View synonyms for Black


or black

[ blak ]


  1. the current entry.
    1. relating or belonging to any of the various human populations characterized by dark skin pigmentation, specifically the dark-skinned peoples of Africa, Oceania, and Australia.
    2. relating to or noting the descendants of these populations, without regard for the lightness or darkness of skin tone.
    3. African American:

      The exhibit featured the work of young Black artists from New York.


  1. Often Offensive. (Use as a noun in reference to a person, e.g., “a Black,” is often considered offensive.) the current entry.
    1. a member of any of various dark-skinned peoples, especially those of Africa, Oceania, and Australia.



[ blak ]


  1. Hu·go La·fa·yette [hyoo, -goh laf-ey-, et], 1886–1971, U.S. political official: associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court 1937–71.
  2. (Sir) James Whyte [sur , jeymz, hwahyt, wahyt], 1924–2010, English pharmacologist: Nobel Prize 1988.
  3. Jo·seph [joh, -z, uh, f, -s, uh, f], 1728–99, Scottish physician and chemist.
  4. Shir·ley Tem·ple [shur, -lee , tem, -p, uh, l], Temple, Shirley.



[ blak ]


, black·er, black·est.
  1. being a color that lacks hue and brightness and absorbs light without reflecting any of the rays composing it:

    They labeled the boxes with a black permanent marker.

    Synonyms: ebony, sable, inky, sooty, dusky, dark

    Antonyms: white

  2. characterized by absence of light; enveloped in darkness:

    a black night.

  3. soiled or stained with dirt:

    That shirt was black within an hour.

    Synonyms: dingy, dirty

    Antonyms: clean

  4. a black outlook.

    Synonyms: funereal, mournful, doleful, somber, depressing, sad

    Antonyms: cheerful, hopeful

  5. deliberately harmful; inexcusable:

    a black lie.

  6. boding ill; sullen or hostile; threatening: black looks.

    black words;

    black looks.

    Synonyms: calamitous, disastrous

  7. (of coffee or tea) without milk or cream:

    I take my coffee black.

  8. without any moral quality or goodness; evil; wicked:

    His black heart has concocted yet another black deed.

    Synonyms: villainous, traitorous, treacherous, nefarious, horrible, atrocious, monstrous, infernal, devilish, fiendish, inhuman, sinful

  9. indicating censure, disgrace, or liability to punishment:

    a black mark on one's record.

  10. marked by disaster or misfortune:

    black areas of drought; Black Friday.

  11. wearing black or dark clothing or armor:

    the black prince.

  12. based on the grotesque, morbid, or unpleasant aspects of life: black humor.

    black comedy;

    black humor.

  13. (of a check mark, flag, etc.) done or written in black to indicate, as on a list, that which is undesirable, substandard, potentially dangerous, etc.:

    Pilots put a black flag next to the ten most dangerous airports.

  14. illegal or underground:

    The black economy pays no taxes.

  15. showing a profit; not showing any losses:

    the first black quarter in two years.

  16. deliberately false or intentionally misleading:

    black propaganda.

  17. British. boycotted, as certain goods or products by a trade union.
  18. (of steel) in the form in which it comes from the rolling mill or forge; unfinished.


  1. the color at one extreme end of the scale of grays, opposite to white, absorbing all light incident upon it. Compare white ( def 20 ).
  2. black clothing, especially as a sign of mourning:

    He wore black at the funeral.

  3. Chess, Checkers. the dark-colored men or pieces or squares.
  4. black pigment:

    lamp black.

  5. Slang. black beauty.
  6. a horse or other animal that is entirely black.

verb (used with object)

  1. to make black; put black on; blacken.
  2. British. to boycott or ban.
  3. to polish (shoes, boots, etc.) with blacking.

verb (used without object)

  1. to become black; take on a black color; blacken.


  1. (of coffee or tea) served without milk or cream.

verb phrase

    1. to lose consciousness:

      He blacked out at the sight of blood.

    2. to erase, obliterate, or suppress:

      News reports were blacked out.

    3. to forget everything relating to a particular event, person, etc.:

      When it came to his war experiences he blacked out completely.

    4. Theater. to extinguish all of the stage lights.
    5. to make or become inoperable:

      to black out the radio broadcasts from the U.S.

    6. Military. to obscure by concealing all light in defense against air raids.
    7. Radio and Television. to impose a broadcast blackout on (an area).
    8. to withdraw or cancel (a special fare, sale, discount, etc.) for a designated period:

      The special airfare discount will be blacked out by the airlines over the holiday weekend.



/ blæk /


  1. BlackSir James (Whyte)19242010MBritishSCIENCE: chemist Sir James ( Whyte ). 1924–2010, British biochemist. He discovered beta-blockers and drugs for peptic ulcers: Nobel prize for physiology or medicine 1988
  2. BlackJoseph17281799MScottishMEDICINE: physicianSCIENCE: chemist Joseph . 1728–99, Scottish physician and chemist, noted for his pioneering work on carbon dioxide and heat



/ blæk /


  1. a member of a human population having dark pigmentation of the skin


  1. of or relating to a Black person or Black people

    a Black neighbourhood



/ blæk /


  1. of the colour of jet or carbon black, having no hue due to the absorption of all or nearly all incident light Compare white
  2. without light; completely dark
  3. without hope or alleviation; gloomy

    the future looked black

  4. very dirty or soiled

    black factory chimneys

  5. angry or resentful

    she gave him black looks

  6. (of a play or other work) dealing with the unpleasant realities of life, esp in a pessimistic or macabre manner

    black comedy

  7. (of coffee or tea) without milk or cream
  8. causing, resulting from, or showing great misfortune

    black areas of unemployment

    1. wicked or harmful

      a black lie

    2. ( in combination )


  9. causing or deserving dishonour or censure

    a black crime

  10. (of the face) purple, as from suffocation
  11. (of goods, jobs, works, etc) being subject to boycott by trade unionists, esp in support of industrial action elsewhere


  1. a black colour
  2. a dye or pigment of or producing this colour
  3. black clothing, worn esp as a sign of mourning
  4. chess draughts
    1. a black or dark-coloured piece or square
    2. usually capital the player playing with such pieces
  5. complete darkness

    the black of the night

  6. a black ball in snooker, etc
  7. (in roulette and other gambling games) one of two colours on which players may place even bets, the other being red
  8. in the black
    in credit or without debt
  9. archery a black ring on a target, between the outer and the blue, scoring three points


  1. another word for blacken
  2. tr to polish (shoes, etc) with blacking
  3. tr to bruise so as to make black

    he blacked her eye

  4. tr (of trade unionists) to organize a boycott of (specified goods, jobs, work, etc), esp in support of industrial action elsewhere


  1. British chemist who in 1756 discovered carbon dioxide, which he called “fixed air.” In addition to further studies of carbon dioxide, Black formulated the concepts of latent heat and heat capacity.



/ blăk /

  1. British pharmacologist who discovered the first beta-blocker, which led to the development of safer and more effective drugs to treat high blood pressure and heart disease. Black also developed a blocker for gastric acid production that revolutionized the treatment of stomach ulcers. He shared with Gertrude Elion and George Hitchings the 1988 Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine.

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Talking about a Black or Blacks is considered offensive and it is better to talk about a Black person , Black people

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Sensitive Note

Black may be capitalized when used in reference to people, as a sign of respect. The case for capitalizing the initial letter ( Black ) is further supported by the fact that the names of many other ethnic groups and nationalities use initial capital letters, e.g., Hispanic. Black as an adjective referring to a person or people is unlikely to cause negative reactions. As a noun, however, it does often offend. The use of the plural noun without an article is somewhat more accepted (home ownership among Blacks ); however, the plural noun with an article is more likely to offend (political issues affecting the Blacks ), and the singular noun is especially likely to offend (The small business proprietor is a Black ). Use the adjective instead: Black homeowners, Black voters, a Black business proprietor. In the United States, there is a complex social history for words that name or describe the dark-skinned peoples of sub-Saharan Africa and their descendants. A term that was once acceptable may now be offensive, and one that was once offensive may now be acceptable. Colored, for example, first used in colonial North America, was an appropriate referential term until the 1920s, when it was supplanted by Negro. Now colored is perceived not only as old-fashioned but offensive. It survives primarily in the name of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), an organization formed when the word was not considered derogatory. Describing someone as a person of color, however, is not usually offensive. That term, an inclusive one that can refer to anyone who is not white, is frequently used by members of the Black community. Using “of color” can emphasize commonalities in nonwhite lives. However, when referring to a group of people who are all Black, it is more appropriate to be specific. Failure to explicitly reference blackness when it is exclusively appropriate, generalizing “Black” to “of color,” can be a form of erasure. Negro remained the overwhelming term of choice until the mid-1960s. That decade saw a burgeoning civil rights movement, which furthered a sense that Negro was contaminated by its long association with discrimination as well as its closeness to the disparaging and deeply offensive N-word. The emergence of the Black Power movement fostered the emergence of Black as a primary descriptive term, as in “Black pride.” By the mid-1970s Black had become common within and outside the Black community. But Negro has not entirely disappeared. It remains in the names of such organizations as the United Negro College Fund, people still refer to Negro spirituals, and some older Black people continue to identify with the term they have known since childhood. So Negro , while not offensive in established or historical contexts, is now looked upon in contemporary speech and writing as not only antiquated but highly likely to offend. During the 1980s, many Americans sought to display pride in their immigrant origins. Linguistically, this brought about a brief period of short-form hyphenated designations, like Italo-Americans and Greco-Americans. The Black community also embraced the existing term Afro-American, a label that emphasized geographical or ethnic heritage over skin color. The related label, African American, also saw an increase in use among activists in the 1970s and 1980s. African American was even more widely adopted in the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s after high-profile Black leaders advocated for it, arguing, as Jesse Jackson did, that the term brought “proper historical context” and had “cultural integrity.” While African American has not completely replaced Black in common parlance, it works both as a noun and as an adjective. This shifting from term to term has not been smooth or linear, and periods of change like the late 1960s were often marked by confusion as to which term was appropriate. The 1967 groundbreaking film Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, about a young interracial couple hoping that both sets of parents will accept their plans to marry, reflects the abundance of terminological choices available at the time. Various characters talk of a “colored girl,” a “colored man,” a “Negro,” and “Black people.” The N-word appears once, used disparagingly by one Black character to another. African American had not yet made it into the mix.

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Derived Forms

  • ˈblackish, adjective
  • ˈblackishly, adverb
  • ˈblackness, noun
  • ˈblackly, adverb

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Other Words From

  • black·ish adjective
  • black·ish·ly adverb
  • black·ish·ness noun
  • non·black adjective noun
  • un·blacked adjective
  • well-blacked adjective

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Word History and Origins

Origin of Black2

First recorded before 900; Middle English blak, Old English blæc; cognate with Old High German blah- (used only in compounds); akin to Old Norse blakkr “black,” blek “ink”; from Germanic blakaz, past participle of blakjan “to burn,” from a root meaning “to shine, flash, burn”

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Word History and Origins

Origin of Black1

Old English blæc ; related to Old Saxon blak ink, Old High German blakra to blink

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Idioms and Phrases

  1. black and white,
    1. print or writing:

      I want that agreement in black and white.

    2. a monochromatic picture done with black and white only.
    3. a chocolate soda containing vanilla ice cream.
    4. Slang. a highly recognizable police car, used to patrol a community.
  2. black or white, completely either one way or another, without any intermediate state.
  3. in the black, operating at a profit or being out of debt ( in the red ):

    New production methods put the company in the black.

More idioms and phrases containing Black

  • dirty (black) look
  • in the red (black)
  • look black
  • paint black
  • pot calling the kettle black

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Example Sentences

Cars piled up at intersections under blacked-out stoplights.

Despite requests from Wilkinson’s attorneys and The Post to limit redactions, large swaths of the documents were blacked out.

She filmed herself toughing out her symptoms, which included an intense migraine, a 104-degree fever, and almost blacking out while taking the test.

Bekele started to ask the paramedics what happened to his wife and children but blacked out before he could get the words out.

The woman “did not consent to any of this conduct” and “blacked out for a few minutes from the fear,” according to the lawsuit.

The world that Black Dynamite lives in is not the most PC place to be in.

Music is a huge part of the tone of Black Dynamite overall—going back to the original 2009 movie on which the series is based.

How far has Congress really evolved on race when in 50 years it has gone from one black senator to two?

Even the arguably more democratic House is only at 10 percent black members.

But in the case of black women, another study found no lack of interest.

Suddenly, however, he became aware of a small black spot far ahead in the very middle of the unencumbered track.

The lady in black was reading her morning devotions on the porch of a neighboring bathhouse.

The lady in black, creeping behind them, looked a trifle paler and more jaded than usual.

A little black girl sat on the floor, and with her hands worked the treadle of the machine.

Under the long lashes of low lids a pair of eyes black and insolent set off the haughty lines of her scarlet lips.


Related Words

Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Idioms from The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.




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