adjective, blank·er, blank·est.
verb (used with object)
- bland-allison act,
- blank cartridge,
- blank check,
- blank cheque,
- blank endorsement,
- blank shell
- to fail in an attempt; be unsuccessful: We've drawn a blank in the investigation.
- to fail to comprehend or be unable to recollect: He asked me their phone number and I drew a blank.
Origin of blank
- to choose a lottery ticket that fails to win
- to get no results from something
Word Origin 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.
draw a blank
Fail to find or remember something, as in He looks familiar but I've drawn a blank on his name. This expression alludes to drawing a lottery ticket with nothing on it (so one cannot win a prize). [Early 1800s]
In addition to the idiom beginning with blank
- blank check
- draw a blank
- fill in (the blanks)