blackface

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

Definition of blackface

1 : dark makeup worn to mimic the appearance of a Black person and especially to mock or ridicule Black people

Note: The wearing of blackface by white performers was, from the early 19th through the mid-20th centuries, a prominent feature of minstrel shows (see minstrel sense 3a) and similar forms of entertainment featuring exaggerated and inaccurate caricatures of Black people. The use of blackface is considered deeply offensive.

2 : a performer wearing blackface : minstrel sense 3a

Examples of blackface in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Sterns and Overshown have been outspoken critics of the song, which was originally performed in blackface and has connections to Confederate Army Commander Robert E. Lee. Dallas News, "DeMarvion Overshown, Caden Sterns claim they were threatened by some alumni during ‘The Eyes of Texas’ protest," 2 Mar. 2021 Attorney General Mark Herring's legacies when 2019 reports revealed that the officials, both white men, wore blackface decades ago. Mica Soellner, Washington Examiner, "Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe launches second bid for 2021 focusing on education investment," 9 Dec. 2020 Chris Rock says he wasn't offended by Jimmy Fallon's 2000 sketch in which the then-Saturday Night Live star wore blackface to impersonate the Black actor. Benjamin Vanhoose, PEOPLE.com, "Chris Rock Says Jimmy Fallon 'Didn't Mean Anything' by Past Blackface Sketch: He's 'a Great Guy'," 17 Sep. 2020 In the parody, Stern wore blackface to play Danson and repeatedly used the N-word. Rachel Yang, EW.com, "Howard Stern responds to resurfaced blackface video where he uses N-word: 'I evolved and changed'," 16 June 2020 Meredith, who is white, then texted a photo of himself in blackface. Anchorage Daily News, "Records show fervent Trump fans fueled US Capitol takeover," 11 Jan. 2021 In 2020, Stern found himself in a bit of controversy, breaking his silence on a 1993 sketch showing the radio shock jock repeatedly using the N-word in blackface resurfaced online. Sara M Moniuszko, USA TODAY, "Howard Stern extends SiriusXM contract, signs on for 5 more years," 9 Dec. 2020 The historically racist blackface makeup was worn by Jane Krakowski's character, Jenna, in two episodes, Vulture reports. Caitlin O'kane, CBS News, "Tina Fey requests "30 Rock" episodes with blackface be removed from streaming platforms," 23 June 2020 Once the child finds out that the Devil is actually that sadistic teen Lubomir down the street in blackface, does being good matter anymore? Washington Post, "I brought my kids to the Devil for Christmas. And they’re fine. Right?," 17 Dec. 2020

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 at sense 1

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The first known use of blackface was in 1847

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Statistics for blackface

Last Updated

5 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Blackface.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/blackface. Accessed 5 Mar. 2021.

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More from Merriam-Webster on blackface

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about blackface

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