black·​ness ˈblak-ˌnəs How to pronounce blackness (audio)
: the quality or state of being black: such as
: black color
Massive pots of oil, shellacked to a profound blackness by seasons of smoke and burnt grease, sit above burning slats of wood that seem to have been salvaged from the wreckage of the last hurricane.Pete Wells
: darkness
As Kit lay wide awake in the blackness, some distant shouts, a snatch of raucous, unrestrained singing such as she had never heard before in Wethersfield, sent her mind back to the days of her childhood.Elizabeth George Speare
: a gloomy or somber feeling, tone, or character
"… Think of me at this hour, in a strange place, labouring under a blackness of distress that no fancy can exaggerate …"Robert Louis Stevenson
or less commonly Blackness
: the fact or state of belonging to a population group that has dark pigmentation of the skin : the fact or state of being Black (see black entry 1 sense 2a)
"In those days, racism and discrimination was overt. … people could see my blackness and would react to that. …"Annette Nelson
: the social and cultural identity and experience of Black people
I, on the other hand, feel it is my blackness (not my skin color so much as the culture that nurtured me) that causes me to open myself, acknowledge my soul and its varied components …Alice Walker
… the social construction of blackness, a social construction whose phenotypic reach I could not escape.Devon W. Carbado
also : representations or expressions of this (as in art or literature)
… a conversation … exploring Blackness and gender identity within fine art and popular culture. Ann Fink

Word History


Middle English blaknesse, from blak black entry 1 + -nesse -ness

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of blackness was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near blackness

Cite this Entry

“Blackness.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Jan. 2023.

More from Merriam-Webster on blackness

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

Commonly Confused Words Quiz

  • vector image of a face with thought expression
  • I went to the ______ store to buy a birthday card.
Spell It

Hear a word and type it out. How many can you get right?

Solve today's spelling word game by finding as many words as you can with using just 7 letters. Longer words score more points.

Can you make 12 words with 7 letters?