black

black

synonyms, antonyms, definitions, examples & translations of black in English

English Online Dictionary. What means black‎? What does black mean?

English

Alternative forms

  • Black (race-related)
  • blk (race-related, online slang)

Etymology

From Middle English blak, black, blake, from Old English blæc (black, dark", also "ink), from Proto-West Germanic *blak, from Proto-Germanic *blakaz (burnt) (compare Dutch blaken (to burn), Low German blak, black (blackness, black paint, (black) ink), Old High German blah (black)), possibly from Proto-Indo-European *bʰleg- (to burn, shine) (compare Latin flagrāre (to burn), Ancient Greek φλόξ (phlóx, flame), Sanskrit भर्ग (bharga, radiance)). More at bleach.

Pronunciation

  • enPR: blăk, IPA(key): /blæk/
  • (UK) IPA(key): /blak/
  • Rhymes: -æk

Adjective

black (comparative blacker or more black, superlative blackest or most black)

  1. (of an object) Absorbing all light and reflecting none; dark and hueless.
  2. (of a place, etc) Without light.
  3. (sometimes capitalized) Belonging to or descended from any of various (African, Aboriginal, etc) ethnic groups which typically have dark pigmentation of the skin. (See usage notes below.)
    • 1975 May, Terry Hodges, in Ebony, page 10:
      I am a young, light-skinned black woman, and truer words were never written of the problem we light-skinned blacks have had to live with. The article explains in-depth what it's like.
  4. (chiefly historical) Designated for use by those ethnic groups.
    black drinking fountain; black hospital
  5. (card games, of a card) Of the spades or clubs suits. Compare red (of the hearts or diamonds suit)
    I was dealt two red queens, and he got one of the black queens.
  6. Bad; evil; ill-omened.
    • 1655, Benjamin Needler, Expository notes, with practical observations; towards the opening of the five first chapters of the first book of Moses called Genesis. London: N. Webb and W. Grantham, page 168.
      ...what a black day would that be, when the Ordinances of Jesus Christ should as it were be excommunicated, and cast out of the Church of Christ.
  7. Expressing menace, or discontent; threatening; sullen.
    He shot her a black look.
    • 1902, John Buchan, The Outgoing of the Tide
      The lassie had grace given her to refuse, but with a woeful heart, and Heriotside rode off in black discontent, leaving poor Ailie to sigh her love. He came back the next day and the next, but aye he got the same answer.
  8. (of objects, markets, etc) Illegitimate, illegal or disgraced.
    • 1866, The Contemporary Review, London: A. Strahan, page 338.
      Foodstuffs were rationed and, as in other countries in a similar situation, the black market was flourishing.
  9. (Ireland, informal) Overcrowded.
  10. (of coffee or tea) Without any cream, milk, or creamer.
    Jim drinks his coffee black, but Ellen prefers it with creamer.
  11. (board games, chess) Of or relating to the playing pieces of a board game deemed to belong to the "black" set (in chess the set used by the player who moves second) (often regardless of the pieces' actual colour).
    The black pieces in this chess set are made of dark blue glass.
  12. (typography) Said of a symbol or character that is solid, filled with color. Compare white (said of a character or symbol outline, not filled with color).
    Compare two Unicode symbols: = "WHITE RIGHT POINTING INDEX"; = BLACK RIGHT POINTING INDEX
  13. (politics) Related to the Christian Democratic Union of Germany.
    After the election, the parties united in a black-yellow alliance.
  14. Clandestine; relating to a political, military, or espionage operation or site, the existence or details of which is withheld from the general public.
    5 percent of the Defense Department funding will go to black projects.
    black operations/black ops, black room, black site
  15. Occult; relating to something (such as mystical or magical knowledge) which is unknown to or kept secret from the general public.
    • 2014, J.R.R. Tolkien, Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (→ISBN), page 168:
      But a hel-rúne was one who knew secret black knowledge – and the association of hell with the dead shows that the gloss in O.H.G. 'necromancia' is very close.
  16. (Ireland, now derogatory) Protestant, often with the implication of being militantly pro-British or anti-Catholic. (Compare blackmouth ("Presbyterian").)
    the Black North (Ulster)
    the Royal Black Institution
    • 1812, Edward Wakefield, An Account of Ireland, Statistical and Political Vol. 2, p. 737:
      There is a district, comprehending Donegal, the interior of the county of Derry, and the western side of Tyrone, which is emphatically called by the people "the Black North," an expression not meant, as I conceive, to mark its greater exposure to the westerly winds, but rather its dreary aspect.
    • 1841 March 20, "Intelligence; Catholicity in Ulster" Catholic Herald (Bengal), Vol. 2 No. 1, p. 27:
      Even in the "black North"—in " Protestant Ulster"—Catholicity is progressing at a rate that must strike terror into its enemies, and impart pride and hope to the professors of the faith of our sainted forefathers.
    • 1886 Thomas Power O'Connor, The Parnell Movement: With a Sketch of Irish Parties from 1843, page 520:
      To the southern Nationalist the north was chiefly known as the home of the most rabid religious and political intolerance perhaps in the whole Christian world; it was designated by the comprehensive title of the 'Black North.'
    • 1914 May 27, "Review of The North Afire by W. Douglas Newton", The Sketch: A Journal of Art and Actuality, volume 86, page t:
      Now April's brother, once also holding a commission in that regiment, was an Ulster Volunteer, her father a staunch, black Protestant, her family tremulously "loyal" to the country whose Parliament was turning them out of its councils.
    • 1985 April, J. A. Weaver, "John Henry Biggart 1905-1979 — A portrait in respect and affection", Ulster Medical Journal, volume 54, number 1, page 1:
      He [Sir John Henry Biggart] was personally amused at having once been called "a black bastard".
    • 2007 September 6, Fintan O'Toole, "Diary", London Review of Books volume 29, number 17, page 35:
      He had been playing Gaelic football for Lisnaskea Emmets, his local team in County Fermanagh, against a team from nearby Brookeborough, when someone from the opposing team called him a ‘black cunt’. ‘Black’, in this case, was a reference not to the colour of his skin but to his religion. It is short for ‘Black Protestant’, a long-standing term of sectarian abuse.
  17. Having one or more features (hair, fur, armour, clothes, bark, etc) that is dark (or black); in taxonomy, especially: dark in comparison to another species with the same base name.
    black birch, black locust, black rhino
    the black knight, black bile
  18. Foul; dirty.

Usage notes

  • In the United States, black typically refers to people of African descent, including indirect African descent via the Caribbean, including those with light skin. In the United Kingdom, black often includes dark-skinned Asians. In Australian, Aboriginal Australians are often referred to as or identify as black. In New Zealand, Maoris are sometimes referred to as or identify as black.
  • Some style guides recommend capitalizing Black in reference to the racial group, while others advise using lowercase (black); lowercase is more common.

Synonyms

  • (dark and colourless): dark; swart; see also Thesaurus:black
  • (without light): dark, gloomy, pitch-black

Antonyms

  • (dark and colourless): white, nonblack, unblack
  • (without light): bright, illuminated, lit

Derived terms

(taxonomy: having dark features):

(other senses):

Related terms

Descendants

  • Bislama: blak
  • Tok Pisin: blak
  • Torres Strait Creole: blaik
  • Dutch: black
  • French: black
  • Greek: μπλάκης (blákis)

Translations

Noun

black (countable and uncountable, plural blacks)

  1. (countable and uncountable) The colour/color perceived in the absence of light, but also when no light is reflected, but rather absorbed.
  2. (countable and uncountable) A black dye or pigment.
  3. (countable) A pen, pencil, crayon, etc., made of black pigment.
  4. (in the plural) Black cloth hung up at funerals.
    • 1625, Francis Bacon, "Of Death", Essays:
      Groans, and convulsions, and a discolored face, and friends weeping, and blacks, and obsequies, and the like, show death terrible.
  5. (sometimes capitalised, countable, often offensive) A member of descendant of any of various (African, Aboriginal, etc) ethnic groups which typically have dark pigmentation of the skin. (See usage notes.)
  6. (informal) Blackness, the condition of belonging to or being descended from one of these ethnic groups.
  7. (billiards, snooker, pool, countable) The black ball.
  8. (baseball, countable) The edge of home plate.
  9. (Britain, countable) A type of firecracker that is really more dark brown in colour.
  10. (informal, countable) Blackcurrant syrup (in mixed drinks, e.g. snakebite and black, cider and black).
  11. (in chess and similar games, countable) The person playing with the black set of pieces.
    At this point black makes a disastrous move.
  12. (countable) Something, or a part of a thing, which is black.
    • 1644, Kenelm Digby, Two Treatises
      the black or sight of the eye
  13. (obsolete, countable) A stain; a spot.
    • 1619, William Rowley, All's Lost by Lust
      defiling her white lawn of chastity with ugly blacks of lust
  14. A dark smut fungus, harmful to wheat.
  15. (US, slang) Marijuana.

Usage notes

  • Use of the noun black to refer to a person is often considered offensive, especially in the singular, and several guides and dictionaries recommend against its usage. It is more appropriate to use "a Black person" or "Black people" in the place of "a Black" or "the Blacks", respectively.
  • See the usage notes in the adjective section regarding the capitalization and scope of the term.

Synonyms

  • (colour or absence of light):
    • blackness
  • (person):
    • (standard) African American (in the US), Afro-American (in the US), person of African descent
    • (usually derogatory or historical): Negro, colored
    • (derogatory): coon, darkie or darky, nigger

Antonyms

  • (colour, dye, pen): white

Derived terms

Descendants

  • Japanese: ブラック (burakku)
  • Volapük: bläg

Translations

Verb

black (third-person singular simple present blacks, present participle blacking, simple past and past participle blacked)

  1. (transitive) To make black; to blacken.
    • 1859, Oliver Optic, Poor and Proud; or, The Fortunes of Katy Redburn, a Story for Young Folks [6]
      "I don't want to fight; but you are a mean, dirty blackguard, or you wouldn't have treated a girl like that," replied Tommy, standing as stiff as a stake before the bully.
      "Say that again, and I'll black your eye for you."
    • 1911, Edna Ferber, Buttered Side Down [7]
      Ted, you can black your face, and dye your hair, and squint, and some fine day, sooner or later, somebody'll come along and blab the whole thing.
    • 1922, John Galsworthy, A Family Man: In Three Acts [8]
      I saw red, and instead of a cab I fetched that policeman. Of course father did black his eye.
  2. (transitive) To apply blacking to (something).
    • 1853, Harriet Beecher Stowe, The Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin [9]
      [] he must catch, curry, and saddle his own horse; he must black his own brogans (for he will not be able to buy boots).
    • 1861, George William Curtis, Trumps: A Novel [10]
      But in a moment he went to Greenidge's bedside, and said, shyly, in a low voice, "Shall I black your boots for you?"
    • 1911, Max Beerbohm, Zuleika Dobson [11]
      Loving you, I could conceive no life sweeter than hers — to be always near you; to black your boots, carry up your coals, scrub your doorstep; always to be working for you, hard and humbly and without thanks.
  3. (Britain, transitive) To boycott, usually as part of an industrial dispute.
    • 2003, Alun Howkins, The Death of Rural England (page 175)
      The plants were blacked by the Transport and General Workers' Union and a consumer boycott was organised; both activities contributed to what the union saw as a victory.

Synonyms

  • (make black): blacken, darken, swarten
  • (boycott): blackball, blacklist; see also Thesaurus:boycott

Derived terms

Translations

See also


  • monochrome
  • Appendix:Word formation verb -en noun -ness

References

  • black at OneLook Dictionary Search
  • black in Keywords for Today: A 21st Century Vocabulary, edited by The Keywords Project, Colin MacCabe, Holly Yanacek, 2018.
  • black in The Century Dictionary, New York, N.Y.: The Century Co., 1911.

Further reading

  • black on Wikipedia.Wikipedia
  • Black on Wikisource.Wikisource

French

Etymology

Borrowed from English black.

Pronunciation

  • IPA(key): /blak/

Adjective

black (plural blacks)

  1. relating to a black person or culture
    Synonym: noir

Noun

black m or f (plural blacks)

  1. black person
    Synonym: noir

Middle English

Adjective

black

  1. Alternative form of blak

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This article based on an article on Wiktionary. The list of authors can be seen in the page history there. The original work has been modified. This article is distributed under the terms of this license.