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

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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

Then Betty brings up Jughead, and Ethel doesn’t think Jughead is into Betty anymore because of their kiss in the bunker (which Betty calls out as blackmail). Jessica Macleish, Teen Vogue, ""Riverdale" Recap Season 3 Episode 7: Why Has No One Noticed Betty Is Missing?," 6 Dec. 2018 The episode illustrates one way the Kremlin has blackmail material over the president. Aaron Rupar, Vox, "Michael Cohen’s plea deal shows that Russia did have something on Trump," 30 Nov. 2018 Scott and Georgina sabotage Rufus and Lily’s wedding also there’s blackmail also Vanya impersonates a prince also Bree and Carter have a backstory? Elizabeth Logan, Glamour, "Every Single Episode of Gossip Girl, Ranked," 19 Sep. 2018 One curious addition was the appearance of Germont’s daughter (Selin Sahbazoglu)—she’s usually represented by a picture—which added force to Germont’s emotional blackmail. Heidi Waleson, WSJ, "‘La Traviata’ at the Met Review: Marvelous Musicality," 5 Dec. 2018 The decision to expel the newspaper came after its publisher, Scott Faughn, paid $50,000 to Al Watkins, the lawyer representing the ex-husband of the woman at the center of allegations against the Missouri governor of blackmail and abuse. Allison Kite, kansascity, "Newspaper booted from press corps over publisher's $50k payment in Greitens case | The Kansas City Star," 14 May 2018 The show is sadly coming to an end in 2017, which means opportunities for said blackmail and deaths are quite limited. Seventeen, "The 20 Greatest TV Teen Dramas of All Time," 4 Dec. 2018 Aware from intelligence intercepts of Kislyak that this statement was false, acting Attorney General Sally Yates then warned the White House that Flynn had misled Pence and could be vulnerable to Russian blackmail. Andrew Prokop, Vox, "Sean Spicer’s book misleads about 2 events Mueller is investigating," 26 July 2018 And then there's the fact that Chic has some pretty decent blackmail on the Coopers involving a dead drug dealer. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "4 Clues That Prove Chic Is Actually Still Alive On "Riverdale"," 4 Oct. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of blackmail

1552, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for blackmail

black + mail entry 1

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Last Updated

15 Mar 2019

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Time Traveler for blackmail

The first known use of blackmail was in 1552

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More Definitions for blackmail

blackmail

noun

English Language Learners Definition of blackmail

: 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

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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