Blackmail Definition

blăkmāl
blackmailed, blackmailing
noun
Extortion of money or something else of value from a person by the threat of exposing a criminal act or discreditable information.
American Heritage
A tribute paid to freebooters and bandits along the Scottish border to assure safety from looting.
Webster's New World
Payment extorted by threatening to disclose information that could bring disgrace or ruin.
Webster's New World
Something of value, especially money, extorted in this manner.
Refused to pay blackmail.
American Heritage
Extortion of such payment.
Webster's New World
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verb
blackmailed, blackmailing
To get or try to get blackmail from.
Webster's New World
To coerce (into doing something) as by threats.
Webster's New World
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.
Wiktionary

Origin of Blackmail

  • 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.

    From Wiktionary

  • From black + mail (“a piece of money”).

    From Wiktionary

  • black mail

    From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition

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