\ ˈblak How to pronounce black (audio) \

Definition of black

 (Entry 1 of 6)

1 : of the color black (see black entry 2 sense 2) a black sweater a black dog as black as coal
2 or Black
a : of or relating to any of various population groups having dark pigmentation of the skin black Americans
b : of or relating to African American people or their culture black literature a black college Black pride Black studies
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]
4a : a person belonging to any of various population groups having dark pigmentation of the skin
b : african american

Note: Use of the noun black in the singular to refer to a person is considered offensive. The plural form blacks is commonly used to refer to black people as a group or community.

a position supported by both blacks and whites blacks and other people of color
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 theoperating 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 Amo (audio) \ or in Vietnam Da \ ˈdä How to pronounce Da (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 blackish (audio) \ adjective
blackly adverb
blackness noun

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 SIX MONTHS ago prospects looked dire for many historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs): around 100 institutions, mostly in the South, which together boast 290,000 students. The Economist, "Historically back Why is interest growing in America’s black colleges and universities?," 19 Sep. 2020 Police checked the building but weren't able to collect any evidence because of black dust, ash and smoke damage, the report said. Erik S. Hanley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "After a fire displaced residents of an apartment complex in Cudahy, some returned to find their units burglarized," 19 Sep. 2020 Absorbing sunlight, the balloon’s black skin then heats up the air inside, providing float gas. Robert Zubrin, National Review, "Might We Find Life on Venus?," 19 Sep. 2020 In fact, the black robes judges wear leave little room for stylistic innovation. Anna Moeslein, Glamour, "Read Every Word of Ruth Bader Ginsberg's 2012 Glamour Woman of the Year Speech," 19 Sep. 2020 Daoud also placed black eyeliner on the star's bottom waterline to add even more drama and definition. Kaleigh Fasanella, Allure, "Miley Cyrus Debuted the Coolest Glittery Disco Eye Look Ahead of the iHeartRadio Music Festival," 19 Sep. 2020 She was last seen wearing a blue hooded sweatshirt, a Chicago Bears hat, blue jeans, a blue button down shirt and a black hair covering. Deanese Williams-harris,, "FBI seeks woman dubbed ‘serial bank robber’ after 4 heists in Chicago, Summit," 18 Sep. 2020 The results showed that 52% of black people live in the suburbs, as do 60% of Hispanics and 62% of Asian Americans. Paul Bedard, Washington Examiner, "Racist? Under Trump, black people and Hispanics join suburbs and home ownership up," 18 Sep. 2020 The man has been described as White, in his 20s or 30s, between 5 feet 10 inches and 6 feet tall, with black hair in a military style cut, and a slim, muscular build. Karen Kucher, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Oceanside police seeking suspect in sexual assault, string of indecent exposure incidents," 16 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Will Rondale Moore, the conference’s most exciting player, get back in gold and black after an August opt-out? Teddy Greenstein,, "10 takeaways from the Big Ten schedule release, including Nebraska taking one in the teeth and Ohio State getting a favorable draw," 19 Sep. 2020 The store's black-and-white cat, Jenny, is also missing. Nisa Khan, Detroit Free Press, "Cat goes missing after fire rips through downtown Detroit shoe store," 18 Sep. 2020 The brand also has 100% cotton masks ($25 for 5; in tie-dye print, as well as in solid black and grey. Amber Brenza,, "These Everlane 100% Human Face Masks Are Super Cute—And They Don't Hurt My Ears Like Other Masks Do," 18 Sep. 2020 Visitors walk into a kind of box, and are surrounded on three sides by a half-dozen black-and-white, backlit kitchen scenes depicting life during six eras between 1790 and today. Mark Jenkins, Washington Post, "In Alexandria, two art installations memorialize men and women who lived under exploitation," 17 Sep. 2020 People wear the black and silver Spurs jerseys and just blend right into the street. Bruce Selcraig,, "3 million miles after he started, San Antonio VIA bus driver retired with perfect safety record," 16 Sep. 2020 The governor-general is Dame Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George, whose badge depicts a white-skinned angel stomping on a prostrate black-skinned Satan. The Economist, "Bajan bye-bye Barbados decides to dump the queen," 16 Sep. 2020 He was last seen wearing a white T-shirt and black and yellow checkered pants, according to TV station CBS42. Elaine Aradillas,, "Missing Ala. College Student Found Dead Nearly 1 Week After Mother Pleaded: 'I Want My Child Back’," 15 Sep. 2020 Cozy up with a Fendi statement scarf in eye-catching black and yellow that’s guaranteed to keep you pleasantly toasty. WSJ, "The Five Accessories You Need This Fall," 14 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb His only goal is to bring the purple and black back to the playoffs. Andy Yamashita, The Denver Post, "C.O. to CO: Owings arrives with new swing and versatility," 18 July 2020 The women then all turn to look at Lisa Rinna in shock before the trailer fades to black. Robyn Merrett,, "Denise Richards Claims Brandi Glanville Told Her She's Had Sex with Someone Else on RHOBH," 29 July 2020 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

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

22 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Black.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for black


How to pronounce Black (audio)

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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