blackmail

noun
black·​mail | \ ˈblak-ˌmāl How to pronounce blackmail (audio) \

Definition of blackmail

1 : a tribute anciently exacted on the Scottish border by plundering chiefs in exchange for immunity from pillage
2a : extortion or coercion by threats especially of public exposure or criminal prosecution
b : the payment that is extorted

Other Words from blackmail

blackmail transitive verb
blackmailer noun

Examples of blackmail in a Sentence

She was a victim of blackmail. The servant extorted blackmail from her employer.
Recent Examples on the Web The blackmail plot that reunites her with her fellow survivors lets Lynskey play desperate and panicked — but also, in moments like Shauna’s heart-to-heart with Taissa (Tawny Cypress) during an impromptu sleepover, achingly tender. Angie Han, The Hollywood Reporter, 21 June 2022 Several Republicans, including GOP Sen. Josh Hawley (Mo), have urged Greitens—who is running for retiring U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt’s seat—to quit the Senate race amid the allegations of abuse, assault and blackmail. Madeline Halpert, Forbes, 20 June 2022 The allegations against Knuth cover the breadth of possibilities, including drug dealing, prostitution, political bribes, police bribes and blackmail. David Reamer, Anchorage Daily News, 5 June 2022 Ukraine’s energy provider, NPC Ukrenergo, which called Mr. Khusnullin’s statement nuclear blackmail, said the real aim was to give Russia electricity leverage over Ukraine and the rest of Europe. New York Times, 19 May 2022 Guo, who was seeking asylum in the United States, was once allied with China’s government elite but was later sought by authorities in Beijing on charges of fraud, blackmail and bribery. Isaac Stanley-becker And Spencer S. Hsu, Anchorage Daily News, 18 May 2022 The far left, representative of only a tiny strand of opinion in the U.S., succeeded in orchestrating a campaign of disinformation, intimidation, moral blackmail and outright violence to create a political climate favorable to its interest. Gerard Baker, WSJ, 9 May 2022 Pornography is produced and circulated among this bunch (and used for blackmail) like it’s no big deal. Caroline Downey, National Review, 13 Mar. 2022 Those genies include the risk of nuclear war itself, the return of nuclear blackmail as a tool of statecraft and the emergence of new incentives for other nations to acquire nuclear arms. Gerald F. Seib, WSJ, 9 May 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'blackmail.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of blackmail

1552, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for blackmail

black + mail entry 4

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Time Traveler for blackmail

Time Traveler

The first known use of blackmail was in 1552

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Dictionary Entries Near blackmail

black maidenhair

blackmail

black maire

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Statistics for blackmail

Last Updated

29 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Blackmail.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/blackmail. Accessed 29 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for blackmail

blackmail

noun
black·​mail | \ ˈblak-ˌmāl How to pronounce blackmail (audio) \

Kids Definition of blackmail

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the act of forcing someone to do or pay something by threatening to reveal a secret
2 : something (as money) obtained by threatening to reveal a secret

blackmail

verb
blackmailed; blackmailing

Kids Definition of blackmail (Entry 2 of 2)

: to threaten to reveal a secret unless something is done (as paying money)

Other Words from blackmail

blackmailer noun

blackmail

noun
black·​mail | \ ˈblak-ˌmāl How to pronounce blackmail (audio) \

Legal Definition of blackmail

: extortion or coercion by often written threats especially of public exposure, physical harm, or criminal prosecution

Other Words from blackmail

blackmail transitive verb
blackmailer \ -​ˌmā-​lər \ noun

History and Etymology for blackmail

originally, payment extorted from farmers in Scotland and northern England, from black + dialectal mail payment, rent

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