black·​face | \ ˈblak-ˌfās How to pronounce blackface (audio) \

Definition of blackface

: dark makeup worn (as by a performer in a minstrel show) in a caricature of the appearance of a black person also : a performer wearing such makeup

Note: The wearing of blackface by white performers was, from the early 19th through the mid-20th centuries, a prominent feature of minstrel shows and similar forms of entertainment featuring exaggerated and inaccurate caricatures of black people. Its modern occurrence in imitation of such performers is considered deeply offensive.

Examples of blackface in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

The picture in question, on Northam’s yearbook page, shows two people—one in KKK robes, and one in blackface, both brandishing beer cans. Lynn Yaeger, Vogue, "The Week in Washington: “Russia Did Not Help Me!”," 3 Feb. 2019 Burberry's offensive design comes just one week after Gucci received backlash for a turtleneck resembling blackface. Lauren Alexis Fisher, Harper's BAZAAR, "Burberry and Riccardo Tisci Apologize After Sending a Noose Hoodie Down the Runway," 22 Feb. 2019 Senate Majority Leader Thomas Norment served at Virginia Military Institute as managing editor of the 1968 yearbook that included the blackface photos and racial slurs. Jon Kamp, WSJ, "Another Virginia Official Has a Yearbook With Blackface Photos," 7 Feb. 2019 The Today show has already been through several big changes in the past year or so — including when NBC booted Megyn Kelly from the third hour in October for her controversial comments about wearing blackface on Halloween. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "The 'Today' Show Is Getting a Major Makeover After Megyn Kelly's Departure," 5 Dec. 2018 There have also been multiple instances over the years of fraternities and sororities hosting parties during which members wore blackface. Suzannah Weiss, Teen Vogue, "A University of New Mexico Sorority Is Under Investigation After Racist Comments Were Allegedly Made at a Campus Event," 25 Sep. 2018 The Palestinian-American model, who is excessively bronzed in Steven Klein’s cover shot, was accused of wearing blackface. Amanda Arnold, The Cut, "Gigi Hadid Responds to Vogue Italia Blackface Controversy," 3 May 2018 Gigi Hadid recently got some pushback for a cover appearance on Vogue Italia in which she was interpreted as wearing blackface. Morgan Enos, Billboard, "Gigi Hadid Apologizes After Accusations of Blackface on 'Vogue Italia' Cover," 3 May 2018 The black civic organization asks riders of all races to wear blackface during the parade. Todd A. Price,, "Former John Besh Foundation head hired to lead Tales of the Cocktail," 23 Feb. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'blackface.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of blackface

1847, in the meaning defined above

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Last Updated

23 Apr 2019

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Time Traveler for blackface

The first known use of blackface was in 1847

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More from Merriam-Webster on blackface

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with blackface Encyclopedia article about blackface

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