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 attributively blackout dates

black 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

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of blackout in a Sentence


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.


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
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

In fact, the bedroom should ideally contain just the things that contribute to sound sleep, like comfortable bedding, blackout shades, and white noise machines. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "The Right Way to Clean Your Bedroom So You Can Sleep Better Than Ever," 14 Mar. 2019 Lebanon has been contending with rolling blackouts since the days of its 1975-1990 civil war. Philip Issa, Fox News, "A goodwill gesture over electricity sows discord in Lebanon," 10 Aug. 2018 Blackout Curtains Help your baby catch a few more zzzz’s with blackout curtains or shades. Joanna Linberg, Sunset, "10 Nursery Decor Essentials," 22 Jan. 2018 CPS Energy is warning consumers of the possibility of rolling energy blackouts across Texas as the state nears max capacity energy usage amid freezing temperatures. Rye Druzin, San Antonio Express-News, "CPS Energy warns of possibility of rolling blackouts across Texas as consumers max out state energy system," 17 Jan. 2018 Perhaps most infamously, Pakistan’s government accidentally caused an hours-long global YouTube blackout a decade ago by attempting to censor a trailer for an anti-Islamic film. Casey Newton, The Verge, "A new kind of dark money on Facebook is influencing elections," 18 Oct. 2018 Side effects also vary by drug but can include itching, rash, excessive thirst, frequent urination, nausea and vomiting, an irregular heartbeat, drowsiness, weight changes, blackouts, loss of coordination, and more, according to the NIMH. Korin Miller, SELF, "5 Bipolar Disorder Treatments You Should Know About," 30 Nov. 2018 In recent days, Israel allowed fuel shipments to increase the power supply in Gaza, which suffers from frequent blackouts, and agreed to additional Qatari assistance to allow Hamas to pay the salaries of its thousands of unpaid workers. Fares Akram, The Seattle Times, "Cease-fire takes hold between Israel and Hamas," 13 Nov. 2018 The blackout, which began at midnight last night, marks the first time that HBO has been intentionally blacked out in the history of the channel. Chaim Gartenberg, The Verge, "Dish customers lose HBO in ongoing distribution dispute," 1 Nov. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Scratch or black out all personal information on empty pill bottles or packaging before throwing them away. Alissa Katz, Good Housekeeping, "How to Dispose of Everything, Including Old Cell Phones, Mattresses, and Batteries," 8 Jan. 2019 Every so often, distributors and content producers will come to an impasse, resulting in channels being blacked out for subscribers while the two corporate monoliths sort things out. Chaim Gartenberg, The Verge, "Dish customers lose HBO in ongoing distribution dispute," 1 Nov. 2018 In addition, the 64 pages of records released after a request from The San Diego Union-Tribune are heavily redacted, blacking out names of some of the judges involved in some claims and all details of the allegations that underlay the claims. Greg Moran,, "State court agency has paid more than $800,000 since 2010 to settle legal claims, records show," 5 July 2018 Image The narrator begins to sleep most of the day and sometimes to go on walkabouts while blacked out. Dwight Garner, New York Times, "A Sleeping Beauty Hopes Hibernation Is the Answer to All Life’s Problems," 2 July 2018 Many at the Garden missed the choke in real time; so did Gartland, because the snapping shutter blacked out the viewfinder. Eric Moskowitz,, "A Celtics-Sixers photo for the ages. And the photographer behind the shot.," 7 May 2018 In the Mueller team’s sentencing memo from early December, Mr. Flynn’s help on several investigations is described, but details were blacked out in the court papers. Aruna Viswanatha, WSJ, "Mike Flynn Sentencing Unexpectedly Delayed," 18 Dec. 2018 The Yankees network was blacked out on Comcast during the 2016 season due to a money dispute, for example. Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, "Amazon trying to buy 22 cable TV sports channels, including Yankees network," 20 Nov. 2018 The name of the child was blacked out in the copy obtained by The Associated Press. Ken Ritter, The Seattle Times, "Police: Mother says she hid daughter’s body in duffel bag," 28 Aug. 2018

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.

See More

First Known Use of blackout


1913, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1824, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about blackout

Statistics for blackout

Last Updated

18 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for blackout

The first known use of blackout was in 1824

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for blackout



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

black out

intransitive verb
\ (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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on blackout

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with blackout

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for blackout

Spanish Central: Translation of blackout

Nglish: Translation of blackout for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about blackout

Comments on blackout

What made you want to look up blackout? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a shady place in a garden or forest

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Original Meanings Quiz

  • rembrandt-painting-a-young-scholar-and-his-tutor
  • Which of the following is the earliest known sense of the word awe?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

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