Etymology: Middle English blak, from Old English blæc; akin to Old High German blah black, and probably to Latin flagrare to burn, Greek phlegein
Date: before 12th century
a. of the color black
(1) very dark in color <his face was black with rage> (2) having a very deep or low register <a bass with a black voice> (3) heavy, serious <the play was a black intrigue> 2. a. having dark skin, hair, and eyes ; swarthy <the black Irish> b. (1) often capitalized of or relating to any of various population groups having dark pigmentation of the skin <black Americans> (2) of or relating to the Afro-American people or their culture <black literature> <a black college> <black pride> <black studies> (3) typical or representative of the most readily perceived characteristics of black culture <trying to sound black> <tried to play blacker jazz> 3. dressed in black 4. dirty, soiled <hands black with grime> 5. a. characterized by the absence of light <a black night> b. reflecting or transmitting little or no light <black water> c. served without milk or cream <black coffee> 6. a. thoroughly sinister or evil ; wicked <a black deed> b. indicative of condemnation or discredit <got a black mark for being late> 7. connected with or invoking the supernatural and especially the devil <black magic> 8. a. very sad, gloomy, or calamitous <black despair> b. marked by the occurrence of disaster <black Friday> 9. characterized by hostility or angry discontent ; sullen <black resentment filled his heart> 10. chiefly British subject to boycott by trade-union members as employing or favoring nonunion workers or as operating under conditions considered unfair by the trade union 11. a. of propaganda conducted so as to appear to originate within an enemy country and designed to weaken enemy morale b. characterized by or connected with the use of black propaganda <black radio> 12. characterized by grim, distorted, or grotesque satire <black humor> 13. of or relating to covert intelligence operations <black government programs> • blackish adjective • blackly adverb • blackness noun II. noun Date: before 12th century 1. a black pigment or dye; especially one consisting largely of carbon 2. the achromatic color of least lightness characteristically perceived to belong to objects that neither reflect nor transmit light 3. something that is black: as a. black clothing <looks good in black> b. a black animal (as a horse) 4. a. a person belonging to any of various population groups having dark pigmentation of the skin b. Afro-American 5. the pieces of a dark color in a board game for two players (as chess) 6. total or nearly total absence of light <the black of night> 7. the condition of making a profit — usually used with the <operating in the black> — compare red III. verb Date: 13th century intransitive verb to become black transitive verb 1. to make black 2. chiefly British to declare (as a business or industry) subject to boycott by trade-union members
New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.