\ ˈblak How to pronounce black (audio) \

Definition of black

 (Entry 1 of 6)

1 : having the very dark color of the night sky or the eye's pupil : of the color black (see black entry 2 sense 2) a black sweater a black dog as black as coal
2 Black or less commonly black
a : of or relating to any of various population groups of especially African ancestry often considered as having dark pigmentation of the skin but in fact having a wide range of skin colors Black Americans

Note: Capitalization of Black in this use is now widely established.

b : of or relating to Black people and often especially to African American people or their culture Black literature a Black college Black pride Black studies

Note: Capitalization of Black in this use is now widely established.

3 : dressed in black (see black entry 2 sense 2) playing for the black team
4 : dirty, soiled hands black with grime
5a : characterized by the absence of light a black night
b : reflecting or transmitting little or no light black water
c : served without milk or cream black coffee
6a old-fashioned + literary : thoroughly sinister or evil : wicked When the King heard of this black deed, in his grief and rage he denounced relentless war against his Barons …— Charles Dickens
b : indicative of condemnation or discredit got a black mark for being late
c : heavy, serious the play was a black intrigue
7 : connected with or invoking the supernatural and especially the devil black magic the black arts
8a : very sad, gloomy, or calamitous black despair
b : marked by the occurrence of disaster black Friday
9a : characterized by hostility or angry discontent : sullen black resentment filled his heart
b : distorted or darkened by anger his face was black with rage
10 : having dark skin, hair, and eyes the black Irish
11 chiefly British : subject to boycott by trade-union members as employing or favoring nonunion workers or as operating under conditions considered unfair by the trade union a ship that was declared black by the union
12a of propaganda : conducted so as to appear to originate within an enemy country and designed to weaken enemy morale Black propaganda … is the business of going to elaborate ends to spread half-true, misleading or downright false information to get your enemy in trouble.— Everett G. Martin
b : characterized by or connected with the use of black propaganda Press reports say that in addition to dropping leaflets over urban areas, messages were broadcast over two "black" radio stations, … both of which were operated by the CIA.Strategic Intelligence
13 : characterized by grim, distorted, or grotesque satire black humor
14 : of or relating to covert intelligence operations black government programs
15 : having a very deep or low register (see register entry 1 sense 4b) a bass with a black voice



Definition of black (Entry 2 of 6)

1 : a pigment or dye of the color black : a black pigment or dye especially : one consisting largely of carbon
2 : the achromatic (see achromatic sense 3) color of least lightness characteristically perceived to belong to objects that neither reflect nor transmit light walls painted in black
3 : something that is black: such as
a : black clothing looks good in black
b : a black animal (such as a horse)
c baseball : the narrow, black edge of home plate a pitch on the black [=a pitch that crosses over the very edge of home plate]
4 Black or less commonly black
a : a person belonging to any of various population groups of especially African ancestry often considered as having dark pigmentation of the skin but in fact having a wide range of skin colors

Note: Capitalization of Black in this use is now widely established.

b : african american

Note: Capitalization of Black in this use is now widely established.

Note: Use of the noun Black in the singular to refer to a person is considered offensive. The plural form Blacks is still commonly used by Black people and others to refer to Black people as a group or community, but the plural form too is increasingly considered offensive, and most style guides advise writers to use Black people rather than Blacks when practical.

5 in board games : the pieces of a dark color in a board game for two players (such as chess) black moves second
6 : total or nearly total absence of light the black of night
7 : the condition of making a profit usually used with the operating in the black — compare red sense 6


blacked; blacking; blacks

Definition of black (Entry 3 of 6)

intransitive verb

: to become black (see black entry 1)

transitive verb

1 : to make black blacked his boots
2 chiefly British : to declare (something, such as a business or industry) subject to boycott by trade-union members


biographical name (1)
\ ˈblak How to pronounce Black (audio) \

Definition of Black (Entry 4 of 6)

Hugo LaFayette 1886–1971 American jurist and politician


biographical name (2)

Definition of Black (Entry 5 of 6)

Sir James Whyte 1924–2010 British pharmacologist


geographical name

Definition of Black (Entry 6 of 6)

1 river 101 miles (162 kilometers) long in east central Louisiana flowing south into the Red River
2 or in China Amo \ ˈä-​ˈmō How to pronounce Black (audio) \ or in Vietnam Da \ ˈdä How to pronounce Black (audio) \ river 500 miles (805 kilometers) long in southeastern Asia rising in central Yunnan, China, and flowing southeast to the Red River in northern Vietnam

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Other Words from black


blackish \ ˈbla-​kish How to pronounce Black (audio) \ adjective
blackly adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for black

Synonyms: Adjective

Synonyms: Noun

Antonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Noun

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Examples of black in a Sentence

Adjective a little black dress blends into the night very well Noun The wall was painted in black. a mixture of grays and blacks She was dressed in black. Verb He blacked his boots with polish. Labor union members have blacked the company.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective In Delhi, people toss bits of meat into the air for black kites. New York Times, "Humans Have Been Sharing Food With Animals for Centuries. Why Is That?," 11 May 2021 The RBP Gourmet pizza includes organic red sauce, four cheese, pepperoni, bacon, ham, Italian sausage, mushrooms, black olives, green peppers and onions. Evan Casey, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "RedBrick Pizza is opening a Brookfield location, its second in Wisconsin," 11 May 2021 That introduction gave way to an emotional performance, opening with Alexander laying on John’s piano in a fabulous black lace outfit. Justin Curto, Vulture, "Olly Alexander and Elton John Sexed Up ‘It’s a Sin’ at the Brit Awards," 11 May 2021 The other models include the base S, the mid-level SE, and the SE R-Line which has an appearance package including black wheels. Joey Capparella, Car and Driver, "2022 Volkswagen Tiguan Updates Detailed for U.S. Version," 11 May 2021 The Tiguan gets new 17- to 20-inch multispoke wheels, including eye-catching black 19-inch wheels. Mark Phelan, Detroit Free Press, "This new feature makes the new 2022 VW Tiguan stand out at night," 11 May 2021 On Friday, as Qadiri was being charged and arrested, Homeland Security Investigations agents loaded the sleek black Lamborghini onto a truck. Washington Post, "A man got $5 million in coronavirus aid for ‘sham businesses,’ feds say. He spent it on exotic cars.," 11 May 2021 In 2018, this listening led the band to follow the direction of the producer Dan Carey, who had worked on unconventional albums for the London bands Goat Girl and black midi. Sheldon Pearce, The New Yorker, "Squid Is a Band with No Rules," 11 May 2021 The 19-year-old singer shared during an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show on Tuesday (May 11) that thanks to one fan's creativity, the seven-time Grammy winner decided to transform her green and black locks to platinum blonde. Anna Chan, Billboard, "Billie Eilish Reveals How a Fan Inspired Her to Go Blonde: 'I Don't Know What Came Over Me'," 11 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Net income remaining in the black at $18.2 million, a far cry from last year’s $286 million loss and continuing the company’s profitability streak for another quarter after not making any money for its entire public life up until last year. Warren Shoulberg, Forbes, "Another Strong Quarter For Wayfair Shows Home Furnishings Still Surging," 6 May 2021 And for the first time since the pandemic began, his tallies now put the current cycle’s budget in the black – a turnaround of nearly $1.7 billion since January, and more than $5 billion since July. Robert T. Garrett, Dallas News, "Texas economy has ‘accelerated,’ prompting Comptroller Glenn Hegar to sweeten his revenue outlook," 3 May 2021 Working toward profitability, Grab said its mobility-services business is making money in all its markets, while food delivery is in the black in five of six markets. Fortune, "Southeast Asian ride-hailing app Grab lands $40 billion SPAC deal for U.S. listing," 13 Apr. 2021 The big recording companies are in the black once more, while Apple, Amazon, and Google swim in cash., "As the music streams, artists see but a trickle in profits," 12 Apr. 2021 The fortuneteller, who by went by Della D-Z, was dressed all in black, and dealt three cards. Washington Post, "‘Floyd was my man. But George Floyd is a movement.’," 26 Apr. 2021 Cross, who had never been in trouble with the law, had been walking to a bus stop with a friend when three police officers, dressed head-to-toe in black, jumped out of a squad car, one of them wielding a military-grade assault rifle. Alex Kotlowitz, The New Yorker, "The Killing of Adam Toledo and the Colliding Cycles of Violence in Chicago," 24 Apr. 2021 For the visit, which falls within the official monthlong mourning period following Philip's death, both William and Kate dressed in black to show respect for the late prince. Bianca Betancourt, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kate Middleton Wears a Black Coat Dress for First Royal Engagement Following Prince Philip's Funeral," 21 Apr. 2021 People who were dressed in black fled as the person called 911, police said. Tim Stelloh, NBC News, "Pig's head thrown at former home of Chauvin defense witness," 19 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Moviegoing at the ArcLight Cinemas and Pacific Theatres has faded to black. Maureen Lee Lenker,, "ArcLight Cinemas and Pacific Theatres are closing their doors permanently," 13 Apr. 2021 Cut to black on her arrival and The Father will owe you a percentage of its incoming VOD receipts. Chris Feil, Vulture, "The One Scene That Best Represents Each 2021 Best Picture Nominee," 13 Apr. 2021 But the librarian would always find them and black them out., "CT Poets’ Corner: The prose poetry of Charles Rafferty reflects life’s tiny moments," 18 July 2019 His vision started blacking in from all sides like it was being rubbed out with an eraser. Jacqueline Detwiler, Popular Mechanics, "This Pro Skydiver Was Invincible—Until his Heart Stopped Beating Regularly," 22 June 2018 Each major sports league offers some sort of online viewing option for around $130 a year, with the caveat that local games are blacked out. Jacob Davidson, Southern Living, "7 Streaming TV Packages That Will Let You Cut the Cord For Good," 1 May 2017 Names and several pages of police reports released Wednesday were blacked out. CBS News, "Records reveal Oakland "Ghost Ship" warehouse's troubled past," 8 Feb. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'black.' 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 black


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


13th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

History and Etymology for black

Adjective, Noun, and Verb

Middle English blak, from Old English blæc; akin to Old High German blah black, and probably to Latin flagrare to burn, Greek phlegein

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Time Traveler for black

Time Traveler

The first known use of black was before the 12th century

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Statistics for black

Last Updated

14 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Black.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for black



English Language Learners Definition of black

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: having the very dark color of coal or the night sky
: very dark because there is no light
: of or relating to a race of people who have dark skin and who come originally from Africa



English Language Learners Definition of black (Entry 2 of 3)

: the dark color of coal or the night sky
: black clothing
: a person belonging to a race of people who have dark skin : a black person



English Language Learners Definition of black (Entry 3 of 3)

old-fashioned + literary : to make (something) black
British : to refuse to work for or with (a business, employer, etc.) or to buy (goods, services, etc.)


\ ˈblak How to pronounce black (audio) \
blacker; blackest

Kids Definition of black

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : of the color of coal : colored black
2 : very dark a black night
3 often capitalized : of or relating to any peoples having dark skin and especially any of the original peoples of Africa south of the Sahara
4 : of or relating to Americans having ancestors from Africa south of the Sahara
5 : wicked sense 1 a black deed
6 : very sad or gloomy in a black mood
7 : unfriendly sense 1 a black look

Other Words from black

blackish adjective
blackness noun



Kids Definition of black (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : the color of coal : the opposite of white
2 : black clothing He is dressed in black.
3 : a person belonging to a race of people having dark skin
4 : an American having black African ancestors : african-american
5 : total or near total darkness the black of night
6 : the condition of making a profit The company is in the black.


blacked; blacking

Kids Definition of black (Entry 3 of 3)

black out
: to lose consciousness or the ability to see for a short time

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