black·​out | \ ˈblak-ˌau̇t How to pronounce blackout (audio) \

Definition of blackout

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a turning off of the stage lighting to separate scenes in a play or end a play or skit also : a skit that ends with a blackout
b : a period of darkness enforced as a precaution against air raids
c : a period of darkness (as in a city) caused by a failure of electrical power
2 : a transient dulling or loss of vision, consciousness, or memory an alcoholic blackout
3a : a wiping out : obliteration
b : a blotting out by censorship : suppression a news blackout
4 : a usually temporary loss of a radio signal
5 : the prohibition or restriction of the telecasting of a sports event
6 : a time during which a special commercial offer (as of tickets) is not valid usually used attributivelyblackout dates

black out

blacked out; blacking out; blacks out

Definition of black out (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : blot out, erase blacked out the event from his mind
b : to suppress by censorship black out the news
2 : to envelop in darkness black out the stage
3 : to make inoperative (as by a power failure)
4 : to impose a blackout on blacked out the local game

intransitive verb

1 : to become enveloped in darkness
2 : to undergo a temporary loss of vision, consciousness, or memory

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Examples of blackout in a Sentence

Noun the blackouts of World War II She keeps flashlights and candles handy in case of a blackout. He told his doctor he had been experiencing blackouts. Verb had spent most of her adulthood trying to black out memories of a wretched childhood with the delivery of the knockout punch, the screen blacks out, and in the next scene the boxer wakes up in the hospital
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Ahmed’s blackout is meant to obscure information from reaching the public. Jacob Kushner Special Correspondent, Los Angeles Times, "As Ethiopia descends into civil war, civilians by the thousands begin to stream out," 16 Nov. 2020 Hundreds of casualties have been reported despite a media and telecommunications blackout in Tigray. Taylor Luck, The Christian Science Monitor, "Why vision of Ethiopian unity is descending into warfare," 12 Nov. 2020 As a refresher, in 2016, South Australia experienced a near total blackout after a crazy storm brought 80,000 lightning strikes and at least two tornadoes to the area. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, "Elon Musk's Battery Farm Has Been a Total Triumph. Here Comes the Sequel.," 6 Nov. 2020 Fighting in Rakhine state between the Arakan Army and the Tatmadaw has become one of the most serious and intense conflicts in the country, leading to civilian casualties, mass displacement and a prolonged internet blackout. Helen Regan, CNN, "Despite accusations of genocide, Aung San Suu Kyi's party is on track to win another term in Myanmar," 6 Nov. 2020 In these blackout poems, Baer has found a novel use. Chloe Schama, Vogue, "The Instagram Poet for People Who Don't Like Instagram Poets," 2 Nov. 2020 Shortly after, Puerto Rico slipped into a blackout, and eight days passed before Sahid was able to reach his parents again. Stephania Taladrid, The New Yorker, "How Latino Grassroots Organizers Are Fighting to Lift Biden in Florida," 1 Nov. 2020 The hack failed to derail Mr Macron’s candidacy; French law bans campaign reporting in the 44 hours before an election, and the emails were released just before that blackout took effect. The Economist, "The story of Hunter Biden and the diminishing returns to disinformation," 31 Oct. 2020 Louisville's Halloween game against Virginia Tech, set for 4 p.m. Saturday, is officially a blackout. Cameron Teague Robinson, The Courier-Journal, "Louisville football announces blackout with video at haunted Waverly Hills Sanatorium," 29 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb When criminal charges are filed against defendants, courts release unredacted versions of the same records police black out. Ryan Gabrielson, ProPublica, "How Cops Who Use Force and Even Kill Can Hide Their Names From the Public," 31 Oct. 2020 When criminal charges are filed against defendants, courts release unredacted versions of the same records police black out. USA Today, "Marsy’s Law was meant to protect crime victims. It now hides the identities of cops who use force.," 29 Oct. 2020 Price said the two sides have agreed to black out the barcodes on the envelopes to prevent the mail sorter from picking them up. James Barragán, Dallas News, "Errors lead some Dallas County voters to question election office’s ability to handle mail ballots," 5 Oct. 2020 NBCUniversal and Roku have reached a video distribution deal, breaking a months-long impasse that had NBCUniversal threatening to black out its apps on Roku in the 11th hour. NBC News, "NBCUniversal, Roku reach video distribution deal," 18 Sep. 2020 The six-page letter from the Trump-Pence campaign, provided exclusively to Secrets, is demanding that the Democrat stop repeating the article and for the social media platforms to black out the ad. Paul Bedard, Washington Examiner, "Outraged Trump demands Biden, Twitter, and Facebook pull down troop ad," 10 Sep. 2020 If Hughes didn’t black out from that wrenching motion—or break his neck, which Bern thinks is possible—the G forces from the rocket accelerating so violently likely knocked him unconscious. David Howard, Popular Mechanics, ""Mad Mike" Hughes Rejected Science and Chased Fame. It Killed Him.," 30 Aug. 2020 The movement quickly spread to individuals and other groups, who opted to black out their profiles for the day and to post on social media while referencing the movement. Danielle Abril, Fortune, "Everything to know about Blackout Tuesday," 2 June 2020 Among the outlets and labels committing to observing the black out are Def Jam Recordings, Island Records, Warner Music Group, Capitol Records, Sony Music and many more, each with their own plans for honoring the day. Benjamin Vanhoose,, "Music Industry to Stage Blackout Tuesday in Wake of George Floyd Killing: 'The Show Must Be Paused'," 1 June 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'blackout.' 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 blackout


1913, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1824, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

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Time Traveler for blackout

Time Traveler

The first known use of blackout was in 1824

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Statistics for blackout

Last Updated

22 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Blackout.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Nov. 2020.

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More Definitions for blackout


How to pronounce black out (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of blackout

: a period when lights are kept off or are hidden from view to guard against enemy airplane attack in a war
: a period when lights are off because of an electrical power failure
: a sudden and temporary loss of consciousness, vision, or memory


black·​out | \ ˈblak-ˌau̇t How to pronounce blackout (audio) \

Kids Definition of blackout

1 : a period of darkness enforced as a protection against enemy attack by airplanes during a war
2 : a period of darkness caused by power failure
3 : a temporary loss of vision or consciousness


black·​out | \ ˈblak-ˌau̇t How to pronounce blackout (audio) \

Medical Definition of blackout

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a transient dulling or loss of vision, consciousness, or memory an alcoholic blackout — compare grayout, redout
\ (ˈ)blak-ˈau̇t How to pronounce black out (audio) \

Medical Definition of black out (Entry 2 of 2)

: to undergo a temporary loss of vision, consciousness, or memory (as from temporary impairment of cerebral circulation, retinal anoxia, a traumatic emotional blow, or an alcoholic binge) — compare gray out, red out

transitive verb

: to cause to black out

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