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black box

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noun
  1. any unit that forms part of an electronic circuit and that has its function, but not its components, specified.
  2. any comparatively small, usually black, box containing a secret, mysterious, or complex mechanical or electronic device.
  3. Aeronautics. an electronic device, such as a flight recorder, that can be removed from an aircraft as a single package.
  4. Automotive. a device in an electronic ignition system that generates electrical pulses.
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Origin of black box

First recorded in 1940–45
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for black box

black box

noun
  1. a self-contained unit in an electronic or computer system whose circuitry need not be known to understand its function
  2. an informal name for flight recorder
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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

Word Origin and History for black box

n.

1947, RAF slang for "navigational instruments;" later extended to any sort of apparatus that operates in a sealed container. Especially of flight recorders from c.1964.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

black box in Culture

black box

A crash-resistant steel container that holds instruments that record performance data in airplanes. The data are used to analyze the causes of accidents.

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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.