black box


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

Nearby words

  1. black bloc,
  2. black body,
  3. black book,
  4. black bottom,
  5. black bottom pie,
  6. black boy,
  7. black bread,
  8. black bream,
  9. black bryony,
  10. black buffalo

Origin of black box

First recorded in 1940–45 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for black box

black box


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

black box


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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Culture definitions for black box

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.

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.