Definition of blackmail in English:

blackmail

noun

  • 1[mass noun] The action, treated as a criminal offence, of demanding money from someone in return for not revealing compromising information which one has about them:

    ‘they were acquitted of charges of blackmail’
    [as modifier] ‘she recounted the blackmail threats’
    • ‘Detectives called at her home the same day and she was charged with blackmail following a police inquiry.’
    • ‘As well as being able to impose military discipline on members, the organisation can raise millions of pounds through robberies, smuggling, extortion, blackmail.’
    • ‘The two accused appeared in court yesterday on charges of kidnapping, robbery and blackmail.’
    • ‘A 23-year-old man branded the UK's worst spammer has been jailed for six years for a string of offences including blackmail and threatening to kill.’
    • ‘Soon he finds himself caught up in a web of blackmail, corruption, and multiple murders, which start piling up in rapid succession.’
    • ‘He could use bribery, blackmail, and other forms of coercion to keep his dishonored promises in circulation.’
    • ‘The offence of blackmail broadens the current offence of extortion by certain threats.’
    • ‘I refer to a judge who's put himself at grave risk of blackmail, entrapment, compromise and hypocrisy.’
    • ‘I do not trust people to make sound judgments, to take care of the information of others or to be beyond blackmail, corruption or plain greed.’
    • ‘The opportunities for police bargaining, threats, blackmail, and coercion to become an informer are unlimited.’
    • ‘It is, after all, free information usable for blackmail, theft or provoking a crippling system breakdown.’
    • ‘In the ensuing litigation, this was portrayed as blackmail - a serious offence that has a maximum prison term of 14 years.’
    • ‘He was sentenced to eight years and nine months in prison in 1991 for blackmail, robbery and illegal possession of fire arms.’
    • ‘Extortion, blackmail and protection money are part of the daily life of the slums.’
    • ‘It was a stupid thing to say considering the threat of blackmail right there in front of me.’
    • ‘Police treated the approach as blackmail and brought charges against him last October.’
    • ‘Access to highly personal information may also play a role in crimes like bribery and blackmail, and involve individuals both within and outside of government offices.’
    • ‘Other charges for blackmail, witness intimidation and perverting the course of justice were dropped earlier this year.’
    • ‘Charges of blackmail peaked in the inter-war decades of the 1920s and 1930s and have been declining since.’
    • ‘Had he videotaped their escapades with threats of blackmail?’
    extortion, demanding money with menaces, exaction, intimidation
    protection racket, bribery
    wringing, milking, bleeding, bloodsucking
    hush money
    chantage
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    1. 1.1 Money demanded by a person or group engaged in blackmail:
      ‘we do not pay blackmail’
      • ‘Denying the second payment was blackmail, he said their meeting wasn't a big deal or boxing match, but an easy deal.’
      • ‘He had to do a very public confession, because it was shown that he was paying blackmail.’
      • ‘A pox doctor's clerk knew all the personal details of the patients, so he had ample opportunities to supplement his income by blackmail.’
      • ‘He had in fact suggested several times that it might be necessary to pay blackmail to silence the burglars who broke into party headquarters.’
      • ‘He was embezzling in order to pay blackmail over a fight he was involved in, in which a person died.’
      demanding money with menaces, exaction, extraction
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    2. 1.2 The use of threats or the manipulation of someone's feelings to force them to do something:
      ‘some people use emotional blackmail’
      • ‘Nobody wants the horrific slaughterhouse of war or the unbridled blackmail of terrorism but nobody wants to see evil flourish either.’
      • ‘Subsequently peer pressure and blackmail of friendship are often major contributing pull factors.’
      • ‘Clear-sightedness is only possible when one is not distracted by jargon, and psycho-babble or intimidated by emotional blackmail.’
      • ‘There's a tightrope to walk between honesty and hysteria, emotional blackness and emotional blackmail.’
      • ‘Many of us are convinced that the dictator will acquire nuclear weapons fairly soon and subject any nation to nuclear blackmail.’
      • ‘Another topic whose exposure might be threatened is the dictator's use of oil blackmail and bribery in influencing a wide variety of nations.’
      • ‘There was nothing he could do to stop her, except for using the emotional blackmail which she seemed to have become so good at.’
      • ‘The country may continue to be a safe haven for terrorists and use it as bargaining leverage to extract further concessions from us through continuous blackmail.’
      • ‘In other words, we can't afford to properly police copyright laws so we'll try and use emotional blackmail to keep people in line.’
      • ‘Italy's foreign minister described that demand as terrorist blackmail.’
      • ‘I have enough of my own guilt, without this emotional blackmail!’
      • ‘Could it be that folks are wising up to this kind of calculated emotional blackmail?’
      • ‘They accuse the hedge funds of blackmail - holding out and refusing to agree to a deal until they secure a larger payout for themselves - at the expense of other creditors.’
      • ‘It's all a matter of good, solid business practice; a matter of turning a spiritual profit and of responding prudently to spiritual blackmail.’
      • ‘I hope voters everywhere will treat this blackmail with the contempt it deserves.’
      • ‘In cases of forced marriage the force can be emotional blackmail or other forms of psychological pressure.’
      • ‘Five years on, her husband is facing a charge for assault - the culmination of a marriage which descended into emotional blackmail, abuse and violence.’
      • ‘I make statements that I know are deeply hurtful and unfair and essentially commit emotional blackmail.’
      • ‘Some of the man-bashing and emotional blackmail seems a bit of a cop out when sections of the production are effectively dramatic and poetically lyrical.’
      • ‘Unwilling girls might be subjected to threats, ranging from physical violence and being locked up, to subtle emotional blackmail.’

verb

[WITH OBJECT]
  • 1 Demand money from (someone) in return for not revealing compromising information about them:

    ‘they use this fact to blackmail him, trying to force him to vote for their candidate’
    • ‘He used his Mafia links to blackmail politicians and build his influence.’
    • ‘I trudged to my room, all the way muttering about how she would blackmail me with this little bit of information.’
    • ‘If you're being blackmailed by someone, turning around and blackmailing him back is just as illegal as the first crime.’
    • ‘Needless to say, if I ever wanted to make some quick money and blackmail someone, he would be the guy.’
    • ‘One aggressive addict blackmailed him and threatened to harm his daughter, who was away at university.’
    • ‘She's using her police connections to blackmail money out of me.’
    • ‘She was blackmailing people for money, but I didn't find any names or any dirty information, just that.’
    • ‘When the murder victim discovered the affair, he began blackmailing her, thus giving him motivation for carrying out the murder.’
    • ‘That being said, know that if you ever try to blackmail me with this information, I will take you to the Tower myself.’
    • ‘Other gangs have resorted to blackmailing doctors monthly in return for their personal safety.’
    • ‘Mother wouldn't hesitate to blackmail someone for money.’
    • ‘This piece of information isn't enough to blackmail him.’
    • ‘Historically the clan made a living stealing cattle and blackmailing people.’
    • ‘Frank frowned at him and growled slightly, ‘Are you trying to blackmail me, assassin?’’
    • ‘I grilled him until we reached the border, and learned an amazing amount of information that would be useful if I ever wanted to blackmail him.’
    • ‘Once the hackers gain access to systems they download proprietary information, customer databases, and credit card information before trying to blackmail victims.’
    • ‘Taking the witness stand at the trial of the photographer who she claims tried to blackmail her, Diaz revealed that she thinks that she looked good.’
    • ‘It just seemed like they wanted information, and it turned out that blackmailing a student was the easiest way to go about it.’
    • ‘I really don't know why, but I every once in a while I got hold of information I could use to blackmail people.’
    • ‘He was looking for information he might blackmail me with; he knows who I am, who my father is.’
    extort money from, threaten, hold to ransom, milk, bleed
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    1. 1.1 Force (someone) to do something by using threats or manipulating their feelings:
      ‘he had blackmailed her into sailing with him’
      • ‘We are blackmailed into believing the money is needed for education and the elderly, but every year we pay more and receive less.’
      • ‘In order to manipulate and blackmail his boss, Jack beats himself up by making it appear that his boss was responsible.’
      • ‘It is unethical to effectively blackmail a player into giving up his rights with the threat of removal from the team.’
      • ‘But he urged the company to stand firm so potential investors knew employers ‘will not be blackmailed by irresponsible threats from unions’.’
      • ‘Now, the unions have taken over the role of blackmailing the work force.’
      • ‘He continued to avoid answering my question of how he had been blackmailed into going to Italy, and our communications were more letters between friends than anything else.’
      • ‘The liberals use this fact to blackmail him, trying to force him to vote for their candidate.’
      • ‘I didn't see any indication that anyone was being threatened or blackmailed or otherwise induced against their will into serving in this capacity.’
      • ‘Everywhere, workforces are played off against one another and blackmailed into making concessions with the threat that production will be moved.’
      • ‘He used the children to blackmail me; he threatened to take them away from me.’
      • ‘Of course, it is wrong to nag, pressurise, coax, cajole or emotionally blackmail one's offspring into providing grandchildren.’
      • ‘I'm not threatening you or blackmailing you with friendship so that you vote my way.’
      • ‘Because once you allow your nation to be blackmailed by the threat of force, you're doomed.’
      • ‘But he's still our guardians and… he also has control over your medical treatment… he'll threaten me, blackmail me.’
      • ‘Mindy informed her friend that she could remember everything and attempted to blackmail her into leaving John.’
      • ‘We've been blackmailed with this threat for years.’
      • ‘If they are aware of their rights, they are either coerced or emotionally blackmailed into giving up their share in the interest of maintaining harmonious relations with their families.’
      • ‘Do you think any politician would be willing to admit ‘Yes, I was threatened and blackmailed into supporting government policy that I didn't agree with’?’
      • ‘Speakers stressed the difference between the healthy tradition of arranged marriage, where the couple genuinely consent, and forced marriage, where they are threatened or blackmailed by their families.’
      • ‘Maybe I could blackmail her into letting me listen to it by threatening to inform the world of her favourite film.’
      coerce, pressurize, pressure, bring pressure to bear on, bulldoze, force, railroad
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Origin

Mid 16th century (denoting protection money levied by Scottish chiefs): from black + obsolete mail ‘tribute, rent’, from Old Norse mál speech, agreement.

Pronunciation:

blackmail

/ˈblakmeɪl/