black·​leg | \ ˈblak-ˌleg How to pronounce blackleg (audio) , -ˌlāg \

Definition of blackleg

1 : a usually fatal toxemia especially of young cattle caused by a soil bacterium (Clostridium chauvoei)
2 : a cheating gambler : swindler
3 chiefly British : a worker hostile to trade unionism or acting in opposition to union policies : scab

Examples of blackleg in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Herding Sheep with Bill There was no contradicting his calendar Of superstitions – the feast of some saint or other The sheep had to be herded off the mountain, Culled and counted, dipped and Doctored with shots for blackleg. Hartford Courant,, "A Celtic Medley: Poems By James Mele," 11 Mar. 2018

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

First Known Use of blackleg

circa 1722, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of blackleg was circa 1722

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Cite this Entry

“Blackleg.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 May. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of blackleg

British, disapproving : a person who works while other employees are on strike


black·​leg | \ ˈblak-ˌleg, -ˌlāg How to pronounce blackleg (audio) \

Medical Definition of blackleg

: an enzootic usually fatal toxemia especially of young cattle caused by toxins produced by an anaerobic soil bacterium of the genus Clostridium (C. chauvoei synonym C. feseri)

called also black quarter, quarter evil, quarter ill, symptomatic anthrax

— compare black disease, malignant edema

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