- 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.
- 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 of blackmailliterally , 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
- 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, especially money, extorted in this manner: refused to pay blackmail.
- Tribute formerly paid to freebooters along the Scottish border for protection from pillage.
Origin of blackmailblack + mail3.
- (archaic) A certain rate of money, corn, cattle, or other thing, anciently paid, in the north of England and south of Scotland, to certain men who were allied to robbers, or moss troopers, to be by them protected from pillage.
- Payment of money exacted by means of intimidation; also, extortion of money from a person by threats of public accusation, exposure, or censure.
- to levy blackmail
- to extort money by threats, as of injury to one's reputation
- to levy blackmail
- (English law) Black rent, or rent paid in corn, flesh, or the lowest coin, as opposed to white rent, which paid in silver.
(third-person singular simple present blackmails, present participle blackmailing, simple past and past participle blackmailed)
- To extort money from (a person) by exciting fears of injury other than bodily harm, such as injury to reputation, distress of mind, false accusation, etc.; as, to blackmail a merchant by threatening to expose an alleged fraud.
The word is variously derived from the tribute paid by English and Scottish border dwellers to Border Reivers in return for immunity from raids and other harassment. This tribute was paid in goods or labour, in Latin reditus nigri "blackmail"; the opposite is blanche firmes or reditus albi "white rent", denoting payment by silver. Alternatively, McKay derives it from two Scottish Gaelic words blathaich, pronounced (the th silent) bl-aich, "to protect" and mal (“tribute, payment”). He notes that the practice was common in the Highlands of Scotland as well as the Borders.