verb (used with object), black·legged, black·leg·ging. British Informal.

verb (used without object), black·legged, black·leg·ging.

British Informal. to return to work before a strike is settled.

Origin of blackleg

1715–25; black + leg; orig. of nonliteral senses unclear; cf. jackleg Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for blackleg

Historical Examples of blackleg

  • Most of these seemed as eager for the race as an English blackleg for the Derby.

    The Quadroon

    Mayne Reid

  • Knave he was,—cheat at cards, blackleg on the turf,—but forgery!

  • He already knows his rival to be a blackguard; in all likelihood he is also a blackleg.

  • I released the blackleg, and he sat helpless in his chair, and glared at us.

    Great Porter Square, v. 2

    Benjamin Leopold Farjeon

  • Could I think of treading in the boots of a blackleg, albeit they never were his own?

British Dictionary definitions for blackleg



Also called: scab British
  1. a person who acts against the interests of a trade union, as by continuing to work during a strike or taking over a striker's job
  2. (as modifier)blackleg labour
Also called: black quarter an acute infectious disease of cattle, sheep, and pigs, characterized by gas-filled swellings, esp on the legs, caused by Clostridium bacteria
plant pathol
  1. a fungal disease of cabbages and related plants caused by Phoma lingam, characterized by blackening and decay of the lower stems
  2. a similar disease of potatoes, caused by bacteria
a person who cheats in gambling, esp at cards or in racing

verb -legs, -legging or -legged

British to act against the interests of a trade union, esp by refusing to join a strike
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 blackleg

"swindler," especially in equestrian events, 1771, from black (adj.) + leg (n.), but the exact signification is uncertain.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper