blackmail

noun black·mail \ ˈblak-ˌmāl \
Updated on: 9 Dec 2017

Definition of blackmail

1 : a tribute anciently exacted on the Scottish border by plundering chiefs in exchange for immunity from pillage
2 a : extortion or coercion by threats especially of public exposure or criminal prosecution
b : the payment that is extorted

blackmail

transitive verb

blackmailer

noun

Examples of blackmail in a Sentence

  1. She was a victim of blackmail.

  2. The servant extorted blackmail from her employer.

Recent Examples of blackmail from the Web

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

Origin and Etymology of blackmail

black + 1mail



BLACKMAIL Defined for English Language Learners

blackmail

noun

Definition of blackmail for English Language Learners

  • : the crime of threatening to tell secret information about someone unless the person being threatened gives you money or does what you want

  • : something (such as money) that is received through blackmail


BLACKMAIL Defined for Kids

1

blackmail

noun black·mail \ ˈblak-ˌmāl \

Definition of blackmail for Students

1 : the act of forcing someone to do or pay something by threatening to reveal a secret
2 : something (as money) obtained by threatening to reveal a secret

2

blackmail

verb

Definition of blackmail for Students

blackmailed; blackmailing
: to threaten to reveal a secret unless something is done (as paying money)

blackmailer

noun

Law Dictionary

blackmail

noun black·mail \ ˈblak-ˌmāl \

legal Definition of blackmail

: extortion or coercion by often written threats especially of public exposure, physical harm, or criminal prosecution

blackmail

transitive verb

blackmailer

\-ˌmā-lər\ noun

Origin and Etymology of blackmail

originally, payment extorted from farmers in Scotland and northern England, from black + dialectal mail payment, rent



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