from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Being of the color black, producing or reflecting comparatively little light and having no predominant hue.
  • adjective Having little or no light.
  • adjective Of or belonging to a racial group having brown to black skin, especially one of African origin.
  • adjective Of or belonging to an American ethnic group descended from African peoples having dark skin; African-American.
  • adjective Very dark in color.
  • adjective Being a trail, as for skiing, marked with a sign having a black diamond, indicating a high level of difficulty.
  • adjective Soiled, as from soot; dirty.
  • adjective Evil; wicked.
  • adjective Cheerless and depressing; gloomy.
  • adjective Being or characterized by morbid or grimly satiric humor.
  • adjective Marked by anger or sullenness.
  • adjective Attended with disaster; calamitous.
  • adjective Deserving of, indicating, or incurring censure or dishonor.
  • adjective Wearing clothing of the darkest visual hue.
  • adjective Served without milk or cream.
  • adjective Appearing to emanate from a source other than the actual point of origin. Used chiefly of intelligence operations.
  • adjective Disclosed, for reasons of security, only to an extremely limited number of authorized persons; very highly classified.
  • adjective Chiefly British Boycotted as part of a labor union action.
  • noun The achromatic color value of minimum lightness or maximum darkness; the color of objects that absorb nearly all light of all visible wavelengths; one extreme of the neutral gray series, the opposite being white. Although strictly a response to zero stimulation of the retina, the perception of black appears to depend on contrast with surrounding color stimuli.
  • noun A pigment or dye having this color value.
  • noun Complete or almost complete absence of light; darkness.
  • noun Clothing of the darkest hue, especially such clothing worn for mourning.
  • noun A member of a racial group having brown to black skin, especially one of African origin.
  • noun An American descended from peoples of African origin having brown to black skin; an African American.
  • noun Something that is colored black.
  • noun The black-colored pieces, as in chess or checkers.
  • noun The player using these pieces.
  • noun The condition of making or operating at a profit.
  • intransitive verb To make black.
  • intransitive verb To apply blacking to.
  • intransitive verb Chiefly British To boycott as part of a labor union action.
  • intransitive verb To become black.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Possessing in the highest degree the property of absorbing light; reflecting and transmitting little or no light; of the color of soot or coal; of the darkest possible hue; sable; optically, wholly destitute of color, or absolutely dark, whether from the absence or from the total absorption of light: opposed to white.
  • Hence Characterized by the absence of light; involved or enveloped in darkness.
  • Dismal; gloomy; sullen and forbidding: as, a black prospect.
  • Destitute of moral light or goodness; evil; wicked; atrocious: as, black deeds.
  • Calamitous; disastrous; bringing ruin or desolation: as, black tidings; black Friday.
  • Deadly; malignant; baneful: as, a black augury.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English blak, from Old English blæc; see bhel- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English black, blak, from Old English blæc ("black, dark", also "ink"), from Proto-Germanic *blakaz, *blakkaz (“burnt”) (compare Dutch blaken 'to burn', Old High German blah 'black', Old Norse blakkr 'dark', blakra 'to blink'), from Proto-Indo-European *bhleg- (“to burn, shine”) (compare Latin flagare 'to shine', flagrare 'to burn', Ancient Greek φλόξ (phlox) 'flame', Albanian blozë ("soot"), Sanskrit bharga 'radiance'). More at bleach.



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  • "Black, the ultimate noncolor, has supplanted red as the color of power."

    Amy Butler Greenfield, A Perfect Red: Empire, Espionage, and the Quest for the Color of Desire (New York: Harper Collins, 2005), 259.

    October 6, 2017

  • Black and blue both have the same root if you compare the etymologies.

    November 6, 2019