- The definition of blackmail is the criminal act of demanding a payment from someone by threatening to expose a secret.
- When someone writes you a letter and threatens to expose your extramarital affair to your husband unless you pay $1000, this is an example of blackmail.
- When you are charged with a crime for extorting money by threatening to reveal embarrassing information, the charges are because of an act of blackmail.
blackmail definition by Webster's New World
- Historical a tribute paid to freebooters and bandits along the Scottish border to assure safety from looting
- payment extorted by threatening to disclose information that could bring disgrace or ruin
- the extortion of such payment
Origin: literally , black rent ; from Middle English male, rent, tribute ; from Old English mal, lawsuit, terms ; from Old Norse lawsuit, discussion; influenced, influence in Middle English by Old French maille, a coin
- to get or try to get blackmail from
- to coerce (into doing something) as by threats
- blackmailer noun
blackmail definition by American Heritage Dictionary
- a. Extortion of money or something else of value from a person by the threat of exposing a criminal act or discreditable information.b. Something of value extorted in this manner.
- Tribute formerly paid to freebooters along the Scottish border for protection from pillage.
Origin: black + mail3.
- blackˈmailˌ verb
- blackˈmailˌer noun