Blackmail meaning

blăkmāl
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.

noun
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A tribute paid to freebooters and bandits along the Scottish border to assure safety from looting.
noun
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Tribute formerly paid to freebooters along the Scottish border for protection from pillage.
noun
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To coerce (into doing something) as by threats.
verb
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(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.
noun
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(English law) Black rent, or rent paid in corn, flesh, or the lowest coin, as opposed to white rent, which paid in silver.
noun
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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 blackmailto extort money by threats, as of injury to one's reputation.

noun
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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.
verb
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To get or try to get blackmail from.
verb
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Origin of blackmail

  • black mail

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

  • 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