- any payment extorted by intimidation, as by threats of injurious revelations or accusations.
- the extortion of such payment: He confessed rather than suffer the dishonor of blackmail.
- a tribute formerly exacted in the north of England and in Scotland by freebooting chiefs for protection from pillage.
- to extort money from (a person) by the use of threats.
- to force or coerce into a particular action, statement, etc.: The strikers claimed they were blackmailed into signing the new contract.
Origin of blackmail
Examples from the Web for blackmail
Plus, his known drug dealings certainly made him vulnerable to blackmail.The Deal With Serial’s Jay? He’s Pissed Off, Mucks Up Our Timeline
December 31, 2014
Americans are giving in to North Korean blackmail—and it will only get worse.The Sony Hack and America’s Craven Capitulation To Terror
December 19, 2014
Back in England, Hitchcock made the transition from silents to sound with Blackmail, Britain's first talkie.Alfred Hitchcock’s Fade to Black: The Great Director’s Final Days
December 13, 2014
VanDyke confirmed the attack on his website, writing that SEA had emailed him a blackmail threat.The Kardashian Look-Alike Trolling for Assad
Noah Shachtman, Michael Kennedy
October 17, 2014
The more accomplished students took classes in safe-cracking, burglary, blackmail, and confidence games.Meet 'The Queen of Thieves' Marm Mandelbaum, New York City's First Mob Boss
J. North Conway
September 7, 2014
She had been convicted of blackmail, and she made no pretense even of innocence.
If it's blackmail, Mr. Irwin, why don't you consult the police?
Ida has gone to warn her now in case she tries to blackmail you.People of Position
Stanley Portal Hyatt
But there's no blackmail when you only take what belongs to you.
But it shouldn't be blackmail, if silence is the price of getting what really belongs to you.
- the act of attempting to obtain money by intimidation, as by threats to disclose discreditable information
- the exertion of pressure or threats, esp unfairly, in an attempt to influence someone's actions
- to exact or attempt to exact (money or anything of value) from (a person) by threats or intimidation; extort
- to attempt to influence the actions of (a person), esp by unfair pressure or threats
Word Origin and History for blackmail
1550s, from black (adj.) + Middle English male "rent, tribute," from Old English mal "lawsuit, terms, bargaining, agreement," from Old Norse mal "speech, agreement;" related to Old English mæðel "meeting, council," mæl "speech," Gothic maþl "meeting place," from Proto-Germanic *mathla-, from PIE *mod- "to meet, assemble" (see meet (v.)). From the practice of freebooting clan chieftains who ran protection rackets against Scottish farmers. Black from the evil of the practice. Expanded c.1826 to any type of extortion money. Cf. silver mail "rent paid in money" (1590s); buttock-mail (Scottish, 1530s) "fine imposed for fornication."
1852, from blackmail (n.). Related: Blackmailed; blackmailing.