adjective, blank·er, blank·est.


verb (used with object)


    draw a blank,
    1. to fail in an attempt; be unsuccessful: We've drawn a blank in the investigation.
    2. to fail to comprehend or be unable to recollect: He asked me their phone number and I drew a blank.

Origin of blank

1300–50; Middle English (noun and adj.) < Anglo-French, French blanc (adj.) < Germanic; compare Old English blanca white horse, Old High German blanch bright, white
Related formsblank·ness, noun

Synonyms for blank

1–4. See empty. 8. dumfounded, confused, astounded. 9. pure, simple, unadulterated; perfect, absolute, unqualified. 11. void, vacancy, emptiness; gap, lacuna, hiatus. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for blank

Contemporary Examples of blank

Historical Examples of blank

  • Robin's pale, blank face had a sick look, a deadly smoothness.

  • I will sign you a blank cheque, which your uncle can fill up with the amount he has stolen.

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

  • The blank astonishment of her face had proved that to him beyond a doubt.

    The Leopard Woman

    Stewart Edward White

  • But Rima, what had she expected that her face wore that blank look of surprise and pain?

    Green Mansions

    W. H. Hudson

  • The cover was blank; it was sealed with a small device, as of a ring seal.

    Night and Morning, Complete

    Edward Bulwer-Lytton

British Dictionary definitions for blank



(of a writing surface) bearing no marks; not written on
(of a form, etc) with spaces left for details to be filled in
without ornament or break; unrelieveda blank wall
not filled in; empty; voida blank space
exhibiting no interest or expressiona blank look
lacking understanding; confusedhe looked blank even after the explanations
absolute; completeblank rejection
devoid of ideas or inspirationhis mind went blank in the exam
unproductive; barren


an emptiness; void; blank space
an empty space for writing in, as on a printed form
a printed form containing such empty spaces
something characterized by incomprehension or mental confusionmy mind went a complete blank
a mark, often a dash, in place of a word, esp a taboo word
short for blank cartridge
a plate or plug used to seal an aperture
a piece of material prepared for stamping, punching, forging, etc
archery the white spot in the centre of a target
draw a blank
  1. to choose a lottery ticket that fails to win
  2. to get no results from something

verb (tr)

(usually foll by out) to cross out, blot, or obscure
slang to ignore or be unresponsive towards (someone)the crowd blanked her for the first four numbers
to forge, stamp, punch, or cut (a piece of material) in preparation for forging, die-stamping, or drawing operations
(often foll by off) to seal (an aperture) with a plate or plug
US and Canadian informal to prevent (an opponent) from scoring in a game
Derived Formsblankly, adverbblankness, noun

Word Origin for blank

C15: from Old French blanc white, of Germanic origin; related to Old English blanca a white horse
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 blank

early 13c., "white, pale, colorless," from Old French blanc "white, shining," from Frankish *blank "white, gleaming," or some other West Germanic source (cf. Old Norse blakkr, Old English blanca "white horse;" Old High German blanc, blanch; German blank "shining, bright"), from Proto-Germanic *blangkaz "to shine, dazzle," extended form of PIE root *bhel- (1) "to shine, flash, burn" (see bleach (v.)).

Meaning "having empty spaces" evolved c.1400. Sense of "void of expression" (a blank look) is from 1550s. Spanish blanco, Italian bianco are said to be from Germanic. Related: Blankly, blankness.


late 14c. as the name of a small French coin; 1550s as "white space in the center of a target," from the same source as blank (adj.). Meaning "empty space" (in a document, etc.) is from c.1570. Meaning "losing lottery ticket" (1560s) is behind the expression draw a blank. The word has been "for decorum's sake, substituted for a word of execration" [OED] from 1854. From 1896 as short for blank cartridge (itself from 1826).


1540s, "to nonplus, disconcert, shut up;" 1560s, "to frustrate," from blank (adj.). Sports sense of "defeat (another team) without allowing a score" is from 1870. Meaning "to become blank or empty" is from 1955. Related: Blanked; blanking.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with blank


In addition to the idiom beginning with blank

  • blank check

also see:

  • draw a blank
  • fill in (the blanks)
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.