Black Act a severe law passed in the early 18th century against poaching and trespassing (poachers who blackened their faces were known as blacks).
Black and Tans an armed force recruited by the British government to suppress insurrection in Ireland in 1921, so called from their wearing a mixture of black constabulary and khaki military uniforms. Their harsh methods caused an outcry in Britain and America.
Black Beauty the horse which is the central character in Anna Sewell's eponymous novel (1877); the book tells the story, in autobiographical form, of Black Beauty's (often careless or cruel) treatment by a variety of owners.
black belt a belt worn by an expert in judo, karate, and other martial arts. Also, a person qualified to wear this.
Black Bess supposedly the name of the highwayman Dick Turpin's horse, deriving from the version of Turpin's story given by Harrison Ainsworth in his novel Rookwood (1834).
black bile, in medieval science and medicine, one of the four bodily humours, believed to be associated with a melancholy temperament. Recorded in English from the late 18th century, the term is a translation of Greek melankholia ‘melancholy’, from melas, melan- ‘black’ + kholē ‘bile’, an excess of which was formerly believed to cause depression.
black book an official book bound in black; the distinctive name of various individual books of public note, sometimes referring to the colour of the binding. It is also one in which there is a record of punishments, giving rise to the figurative phrase to be in someone's black books.
black box any complex piece of equipment, typically a unit in an electronic system, with contents which are mysterious to the user; specifically now, a flight recorder in an aircraft.
black cap a cap (actually a small piece of black cloth) formerly worn by a judge when passing sentence of death.
Black Carib a language derived from Island Carib with borrowings from Spanish, English, and French, spoken in isolated parts of Central America by descendants of people transported from the Lesser Antilles.
black-coat worker a person in a clerical or professional, rather than an industrial or commercial, occupation.
Black Country a district of the Midlands with much heavy industry, traditionally regarded as blackened by the smoke and dust of the coal and iron trades.
Black Death the great epidemic of bubonic plague that killed a large proportion of the population of Europe in the mid 14th century. It originated in central Asia and China and spread rapidly through Europe, carried by the fleas of black rats, reaching England in 1348 and killing between one third and one half of the population in a matter of months. The name is modern, and was introduced in the early 19th century.
black dog a metaphorical representation of melancholy or depression, used particularly by Samuel Johnson to describe his attacks of melancholia. In the 20th century, the term has been associated with Winston Churchill, who used the phrase ‘black dog’ when alluding to his own periodic bouts of depression.
Black Douglas the byname of James Douglas (1286?–1330), Scottish champion and supporter of Robert Bruce, and afterwards of several senior representatives of his branch of the Douglas family.
black economy the part of a country's economic activity which is unrecorded and untaxed by its government.
Black Friar a Dominican friar, named for the black habits worn by the order.
Black Friday a name for various Fridays regarded as disastrous, such as 6 December 1745, when the landing of the Young Pretender was announced in London, and 11 May 1866, which saw a commercial panic at the failure of Overend, Gurney, & Co.
Black Hand a name given to several secret societies or associations, such as a Spanish revolutionary society of anarchists of the 19th century.
Black Hills a range of mountains in east Wyoming and west South Dakota, which includes the sculptured granite face of Mount Rushmore. The Black Hills were considered sacred territory by the Sioux; discovery of gold there in 1874, and the subsequent gold rush, led to war in 1876, and the Battle of Little of Chancery.
black hole a region of space having a gravitational field so intense that no matter or radiation can escape; informally, a place where money or lost items are thought of as going, never to be seen again.
Black Hole of Calcutta a dungeon 6 metres (20 feet) square in Fort William, Calcutta, where perhaps as many as 146 English prisoners were confined overnight following the capture of Calcutta by the nawab of Bengal in 1756. Only 23 of them were still alive the next morning.
black information information held by banks, credit agencies, or other financial institutions about people who are considered bad credit risks.
Black Jew another term for Falasha.
black letter an early, ornate, bold style of type, distinguished from Roman type (which subsequently became established), and still in regular use in Germany.
black magic magic involving the supposed invocation of evil spirits for evil purposes.
Black Maria a police vehicle for transporting prisoners. The term originated (in the mid 19th century) in the US, and the name is said to come from a black woman, Maria Lee, who kept a boarding house in Boston and helped police in escorting drunk and disorderly customers to jail.
black market an illegal traffic or trade in officially controlled or scarce commodities.
black mass a travesty of the Roman Catholic Mass in worship of the Devil.
Black Monday a Monday regarded as unlucky; in particular, Easter Monday (probably so called because Mondays in general were held to be unlucky; the tradition that a day of rejoicing is naturally followed by calamity may also be involved). The name is also given to Monday 19 October 1987, when massive falls in the value of stocks on Wall Street triggered similar falls in markets around the world.
Black Monk a member of the Benedictines, from the black habits worn by Benedictine Orders.
Black Muslim a member of the Nation of Chancery.
Black Panther a member of a militant political organization set up in the US in 1966 to fight for black rights. From its peak in the late 1960s it declined in the 1970s after internal conflict and the arrest of some of its leaders.
Black Pope an informal term for the General of the Jesuits, recorded from the late 19th century.
Black Power a movement in support of rights and political power for black people, especially prominent in the US in the 1960s and 1970s.
Black Prince a name given to Edward, Prince of Wales (1330–76), eldest son of Edward III of England, who was responsible for the English victory at Poitiers in 1356. He predeceased his father, but his son became king as Richard II. The name is recorded from the mid 16th century, but although it has been suggested that it refers either to the colour of his armour or to the savagery of some of his deeds, there is no clear evidence as to the origin.
The Black Prince's ruby is a large red gem which is in fact a spinel with a smaller ruby inserted, now set in the Maltese cross at the front of the British imperial state crown. The jewel was given to the Black Prince by Pedro the Cruel, king of Castile, after the battle of Najéra in 1367; later, it was worn by Henry V at Agincourt in 1415.
Black Rod the chief usher of the Lord Chamberlain's department of the royal household.
Black Sash a women's anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, established in the late 1950s.
Black Saturday a particularly unlucky Saturday; in Scotland, Saturday 10 September 1547, the date of the Battle of Pinkie, where an English army led by the Duke of Somerset defeated the Scots.
Black Sea a tideless almost landlocked sea bounded by Ukraine, Russia, Georgia, Turkey, Bulgaria, and Romania, connected to the Mediterranean through the Bosporus and the Sea of Marmara.
black sheep a member of a family or group who is regarded as a disgrace to it. The term is recorded from the late 18th century.
black spot in Stevenson's Treasure Island (1883), a summons to one regarded as a traitor who is ‘tipped the black spot’.
Black Stone the sacred reddish-black stone built into the outside wall of the Kaaba and ritually touched by Muslim pilgrims.
black stump in Australia, a notional place regarded as the last outpost of civilization (a fire-blackened stump was traditionally used as a marker when giving directions to travellers beyond the limits of settled, and therefore civilized, life). Often in beyond the black stump.
black swan a thing or kind of person that is extremely rare, a rara of Chancery. The phrase is originally from the Satires of the Roman writer Juvenal (ad c.60–c.130).
Black Thursday a particularly unlucky Thursday; in Australia, 6 February 1851, a day on which devastating bushfires occurred in Victoria.
Black Watch a name for the Royal Highland Regiment. In the early 18th century the term Watch was given to certain companies of irregular troops in the Highlands; Black Watch referred to some of these companies raised c.1729–30, distinctive by their dark-coloured tartan.
Black Wednesday a particularly unlucky Wednesday, particularly 16 September 1992, the day on which the UK withdrew sterling from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism as a result of adverse economic circumstances. Conservatives opposed to closer ties with Europe called the day White Wednesday to signal their pleasure at the withdrawal.
See also black hat, men in black, the black ox, penny black, the pot calling the kettle black, two blacks don't make a white.
"black." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. (May 23, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/black
"black." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Retrieved May 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/black
black / blak/ • adj. 1. of the very darkest color; the opposite of white; colored like coal, due to the absence of or complete absorption of light: black smoke. ∎ (of the sky or night) completely dark due to nonvisibility of the sun, moon, or stars, normally because of dense cloud cover: the sky was moonless and black. ∎ deeply stained with dirt: his clothes were absolutely black. ∎ (of a plant or animal) dark in color as distinguished from a lighter variety: Japanese black pine. ∎ (of coffee or tea) served without milk or cream. ∎ of or denoting the suits spades and clubs in a deck of cards. ∎ (of a ski run) of the highest level of difficulty, as indicated by black markers positioned along it. 2. (also Black) of any human group having dark-colored skin, esp. of African or Australian Aboriginal ancestry: black adolescents of Jamaican descent. ∎ of or relating to black people: black culture. 3. fig. (of a period of time or situation) characterized by tragic or disastrous events; causing despair or pessimism: five thousand men were killed on the blackest day of the war. ∎ (of a person's state of mind) full of gloom or misery; very depressed: Jean had disappeared and Mary was in a black mood. ∎ (of humor) presenting tragic or harrowing situations in comic terms: “Good place to bury the bodies,” she joked with black humor. ∎ full of anger or hatred: Roger shot her a black look. • n. 1. black color or pigment: a tray decorated in black and green. ∎ black clothes or material, often worn as a sign of mourning: dressed in the black of widowhood. ∎ darkness, esp. of night or an overcast sky: the only thing visible in the black was the light of the lantern. 2. (also Black) a member of a dark-skinned people, esp. one of African or Australian Aboriginal ancestry: a coalition of blacks and whites against violence. 3. (in a game or sport) a black piece or ball, in particular: ∎ (often Black) the player of the black pieces in chess or checkers. ∎ the black pieces in chess. • v. [tr.] make black, esp. by the application of black polish: blacking the prize bull's hooves. PHRASES: in the black (of a person or organization) not owing any money; solvent.PHRASAL VERBS: black out (of a person) undergo a sudden and temporary loss of consciousness: they knocked me around and I blacked out. black something out 1. (usu. be blacked out) extinguish all lights or completely cover windows, esp. for protection against an air attack or in order to provide darkness in which to show a movie: the bombers began to come nightly and the city was blacked out. ∎ subject a place to an electricity failure: Chicago was blacked out yesterday after a freak flood. 2. obscure something completely so that it cannot be read or seen: the license plate had been blacked out with masking tape. ∎ (of a television company) suppress the broadcast of a program: they blacked out the women's finals on local television. DERIVATIVES: black·ish adj. black·ly adv. black·ness n.
"black." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (May 23, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/black-1
"black." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved May 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/black-1
Hence vbs. black XIII, blacken XIII (see -EN5). Blackamoor Ethiopian, Negro. XVI (orig. black More; see MOOR. Forms with inserted -a-, unexpl., appear XVI). black-ball black ball recording an adverse vote; hence vb. XVIII. blackberry OE. pl. blaceberian. blackguard A. †(coll.) menials, camp-followers, etc. XVI; †vagrants, criminals XVII; B. †man in black, †boot-black, etc. XVI; low worthless character XVIII; orig. meaning and application unknown. blackleg turf swindler XVIII; workman taking the place of one on strike XIX; of unkn. orig. blackmail (hist., orig. Sc.) tribute (see MAIL2) exacted by freebooting chiefs in return for protection XVI; (gen.) payment extorted by intimidation or pressure XIX. blacksmith one who works in ‘black metal’ (i.e. iron). XV.
"black." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. (May 23, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/black-2
"black." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Retrieved May 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/black-2
"black." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. (May 23, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/black-0
"black." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved May 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/black-0