blackmail

noun
black·​mail | \ ˈblak-ˌmāl How to pronounce blackmail (audio) \

Definition of blackmail

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

Other Words from blackmail

blackmail transitive verb
blackmailer noun

Examples of blackmail in a Sentence

She was a victim of blackmail. The servant extorted blackmail from her employer.
Recent Examples on the Web Those genies include the risk of nuclear war itself, the return of nuclear blackmail as a tool of statecraft and the emergence of new incentives for other nations to acquire nuclear arms. Gerald F. Seib, WSJ, 9 May 2022 Polish and Bulgarian leaders accused Moscow of blackmail. Ashifa Kassam, ajc, 28 Apr. 2022 This week the Kremlin abruptly cut off natural gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria, a move European leaders and President Biden call blackmail. ABC News, 1 May 2022 Neither Poland nor Bulgaria has given into the blackmail, despite their dependence on Russian natural gas. Suriya Jayanti, Time, 29 Apr. 2022 Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov also called the suspension blackmail. Yesica Fisch And Jon Gambrell, Anchorage Daily News, 27 Apr. 2022 Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov also called the suspension blackmail. Yesica Fisch And Jon Gambrell, Chicago Tribune, 27 Apr. 2022 Cooper suggests that Aram check in with the firm while the rest of the team interrogates one of Marquez's men, who reveals the blackmail location Marquez planned to be at. Laura Sirikul, EW.com, 23 Apr. 2022 The story is filled with action that plays on the mind and the nerves, including a homosexual affair that may be a scheme of entrapment or blackmail, wild shoot-outs of immense complexity, and elaborate schemes of encryption and coded conversation. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 22 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of blackmail

1552, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for blackmail

black + mail entry 4

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Time Traveler for blackmail

Time Traveler

The first known use of blackmail was in 1552

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Dictionary Entries Near blackmail

black maidenhair

blackmail

black maire

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Statistics for blackmail

Last Updated

24 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Blackmail.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/blackmail. Accessed 27 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for blackmail

blackmail

noun
black·​mail | \ ˈblak-ˌmāl How to pronounce blackmail (audio) \

Kids Definition of blackmail

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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

blackmail

verb
blackmailed; blackmailing

Kids Definition of blackmail (Entry 2 of 2)

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

Other Words from blackmail

blackmailer noun

blackmail

noun
black·​mail | \ ˈblak-ˌmāl How to pronounce blackmail (audio) \

Legal Definition of blackmail

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

Other Words from blackmail

blackmail transitive verb
blackmailer \ -​ˌmā-​lər \ noun

History and Etymology for blackmail

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

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