One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
adjectiveIrish English, English Regional, Scottish, Northern
Early 18th century; earliest use found in Allan Ramsay (1684–1758), poet. Probably from black + French vis face + -ed, with insertion of the medial -a- after blackamoor; compare black-faced. Alternatively, it is conceivable that the word could show a formation from black + advised, although this shows a better formal than semantic fit, unless the original sense of the compound was ‘having bad intentions’. Perhaps compare Older Scots black-fyse, which could show the same second element, French vis.
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