• adjective 1 of the very darkest colour owing to the absence of or complete absorption of light. 2 deeply stained with dirt. 3 (of coffee or tea) served without milk. 4 relating to a human group having dark-coloured skin, especially of African or Australian Aboriginal ancestry. 5 characterized by tragedy, disaster, or despair. 6 (of humour) presenting tragic or harrowing situations in comic terms. 7 full of anger or hatred.
• noun 1 black colour or pigment. 2 a member of a dark-skinned people, especially one of African or Australian Aboriginal ancestry. 3 Brit. informal blackcurrant cordial.
• verb 1 make black, especially by the application of black polish, make-up, etc. 2 Brit. dated refuse to handle (goods) or have dealings with (a person or business) as a way of taking industrial action.
— PHRASES black someone’s eye hit someone in the eye so as to cause bruising. black out 1 make (a room or building) dark by extinguishing lights and covering windows. 2 obscure completely. 3 undergo a sudden loss of consciousness; faint. in the black not owing any money. in someone’s black books informal in disfavour with someone. look on the black side informal view a situation from a pessimistic angle.
— DERIVATIVES blackish adjective blackly adverb blackness noun.
— USAGE To refer to African peoples and their descendants, black is the word most generally accepted in Britain today, in preference to coloured or Negro. In the US African American and Afro-American are often used.
— ORIGIN Old English.