black·​out | \ˈblak-ˌau̇t \

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

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Synonyms & Antonyms for blackout

Synonyms: Noun

faint, insensibility, knockout, swim, swoon, syncope

Synonyms: Verb

blacken, close in, darken, dusk

Antonyms: Verb

brighten, light, lighten

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The supply of liquid energy will help stabilize the grid in South Australia, which suffered a debilitating blackout in 2016. Robert F. Service, Science | AAAS, "Ammonia—a renewable fuel made from sun, air, and water—could power the globe without carbon," 12 July 2018 One of the byproducts of Phoenix’s 21-61 record last season was a virtual news blackout by much of the Valley media. Scott Bordow, azcentral, "Deandre Ayton ready for spotlight as he makes Suns debut Friday in Las Vegas Summer League," 4 July 2018 Four or eight years ago, a July blackout of Univision channels would have been catastrophic. Meg James,, "Univision channels go dark on Dish Network and Sling TV due to contract impasse," 30 June 2018 Horowitz referred to a near communication blackout between Comey and Lynch when Comey reopened the Clinton inquiry 11 days before the election. Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY, "Senate judiciary panel grills Justice inspector general, FBI director on Clinton email probe," 18 June 2018 Nor has the Government proffered any expert analysis, for example. of how those economics could, or would, change assuming a coordinated blackout of both Turner and NBCU. Nilay Patel, The Verge, "The court’s decision to let AT&T and Time Warner merge is ridiculously bad," 15 June 2018 That’s not all: Parts of the island are still in a blackout after the storm knocked out the island’s power grid, and lots of infrastructure still needs to be rebuilt. Brian Resnick, Vox, "What we’ve learned about hurricanes since last year’s devastating season.," 31 May 2018 Security Watch as hackers take over the mouse controls of Ukrainian grid operators, part of a breach that caused a blackout for a quarter million people. Garrett M. Graff, WIRED, "How a Former US Spy Chief Became Trump’s Fiercest Critic," 30 May 2018 Those who left were considered deserters; a virtual blackout of news from the states about them. Dave Clark,, "Tony Pérez book is first about only Cuban Major Leaguer in National Baseball Hall of Fame," 3 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Witness names were blacked out so their claims could not be verified., "URGENT: Hairstylist: Client Named Paddock Said Venue Easy to Attack," 23 May 2018 And in fact, when the administration, or Congress released those, some versions of those memos, some of the portions were blacked out. Fox News, "Nunes and Meadows call for release of FBI text messages," 25 Apr. 2018 The new one, dated June 11, blacks out some details, including times that family members, witnesses and media may arrive at Ely State Prison, 250 miles (402 kilometers) north of Las Vegas. Ken Ritter, The Seattle Times, "Nevada switches drug to be used in 1st execution since 2006," 3 July 2018 Names have been bleeped from audio and blacked out on documents. Ken Ritter, Fox News, "Police release more video from officers at Vegas shooting," 13 June 2018 The video shows Merkley was made to wait at the door, which had its glass panes blacked out, while an employee tried to track down a supervisor. Jeff Manning,, "Jeff Merkley, White House exchange jabs over migrant children detainees," 4 June 2018 Such jury rigged arrangement is a safety code violation virtually guaranteed to leave the neighborhood blacked out in a future hurricane. Michael Weissenstein,, "Puerto Rico grid 'teetering' despite $3.8 billion repair job," 30 May 2018 This time, Mock allegedly pulled a small handgun on the victim upon which the victim momentarily blacked out from fear, The Tallahassee Democrat reported. Howard Cohen And Johanna A. Álvarez, miamiherald, "Publix shopper leaves her cart unattended. Pulling a gun was her next mistake. | Miami Herald," 15 May 2018 But after returning to France, Bourdain blacked out from taking painkillers and anti-inflammatory medicine on an empty stomach. Hillel Italie,, "Anthony Bourdain suicide a reminder of celebrities' distance from us," 8 June 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.

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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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Statistics for blackout

Last Updated

11 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for blackout

The first known use of blackout was in 1824

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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 \

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 \

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 \

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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