Try Our Apps


90s Slang You Should Know

black hole

Astronomy. a theoretical massive object, formed at the beginning of the universe or by the gravitational collapse of a star exploding as a supernova, whose gravitational field is so intense that no electromagnetic radiation can escape.

Black Hole

Also called Black Hole of Calcutta. a small prison cell in Fort William, Calcutta, in which, in 1756, Indians are said to have imprisoned 146 Europeans, only 23 of whom were alive the following morning.
(lowercase) any usually wretched place of imprisonment or confinement. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for black hole
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • From the street, the entrance looks very much like a black hole in the wall.

    Vistas in Sicily Arthur Stanley Riggs
  • I've a mind to give him a taste of me fist for luck when we get out of this black hole!

    The Copper Princess Kirk Munroe
  • Who told you these fellows had carried me off to this black hole?

    The Gypsy Queen's Vow May Agnes Fleming
  • This was also crowded, but it was not the “black hole” of the vessel.

    Black Ivory R.M. Ballantyne
  • His début began on the master's desk; it ended in the black hole.

    The Village Notary Jzsef Etvs
British Dictionary definitions for black hole

black hole

an object in space so dense that its escape velocity exceeds the speed of light
any place regarded as resembling a black hole in that items or information entering it cannot be retrieved
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for black hole

in astrophysics, 1968, probably with awareness of Black Hole of Calcutta, incident of June 19, 1756, in which 146 British POWs taken by the Nawab of Bengal after the capture of Ft. William, Calcutta, were held overnight in punishment cell of the barracks (meant to hold 4 people) and all but 23 perished.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
black hole in Science
black hole  

An extremely dense celestial object whose gravitational field is so strong that not even light can escape from its vicinity. Black holes are believed to form in the aftermath of a supernova with the collapse of the star's core. See also event horizon, See more at star.

Our Living Language  : When a very massive star ends its life in a supernova explosion, the remaining matter collapses in upon itself. If there is enough mass in this collapsed star, it becomes a black hole. A black hole is so dense that its gravitational forces are strong enough to prevent anything that comes close enough to the region known as the event horizon from escaping. Even light cannot escape, since the escape velocity (the velocity needed for an object to escape some larger object's gravitational field) necessary to escape a black hole is greater than the speed of light. Black holes are extremely dense: for the Sun, which has a diameter of about 1,390,000 kilometers (862,000 miles), to be as dense as a black hole, its entire mass would have to be squeezed down to a ball fewer than 3 kilometers (5 miles) across. Some theorists postulate that the material in a black hole may be compressed to a single point of infinite density called a singularity. Because astronomers cannot directly observe a black hole, they infer its existence from the effects of its gravitational pull. For example, when a black hole results from the collapse of one star in a binary star system, it attracts material from the remaining star. This material forms an accretion disk, which compresses and heats up until it emits detectable x-rays. Black holes are thought to reside in the centers of many galaxies, including our own Milky Way.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source
black hole in Culture

black hole definition

In astronomy, an object so massive that nothing, not even light, can escape its gravitation. Black holes were given their name because they absorb all the light that falls on them. The existence of black holes was first predicted by the general theory of relativity. Supermassive black holes have been found in the centers of many galaxies. Stellar black holes are thought to arise from the death of very massive stars. Astronomers expect to find many stellar black holes in the Milky Way.

Note: Figuratively, the term black hole is used to refer to a total disappearance: “They never saw the man again — he might as well have fallen into a black hole.”
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source
Slang definitions & phrases for black hole

black hole

noun phrase

A place where things mysteriously disappear •An extension of the 1960s astro-physics term for a region of such extreme gravitational attraction that not even light can escape; in some minds also perhaps evoking the Black Hole of Calcutta, a prison cell in which some 179 Europeans were kept in 1756, and where most died: Bureaucracy is the great black hole of both modern capitalism and modern socialism/ Banks have found a new black hole for their customers' money: leveraged buyouts (1990s+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
Cite This Source
Idioms and Phrases with black hole

black hole

A wretched prison cell or other place of confinement. For example, The punishment is solitary confinement, known as the black hole. This term acquired its meaning in 1756 with the event known as the Black Hole of Calcutta. On the night of June 20, the ruler of Bengal confined 146 Europeans in a prison space of only 14 by 18 feet. By morning all but 23 of them had suffocated to death. Although historians since have questioned the truth of the story, it survives in this usage.
A great void or abyss. For example, Running a single small newspaper ad to launch a major campaign is useless; it amounts to throwing our money into a black hole. This usage alludes to a region, so named by astronomers, whose gravitational field is so intense that no electromagnetic radiation can escape from it. [ Late 1970s ]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for black hole

Few English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for black

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for black hole