One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A mild form of blackmail without demands for money; exercise of power over a person through possession of compromising information.
2US Law. The threat of revealing government secrets, made by an accused party (especially in cases of espionage) as a strategy to avoid prosecution.
1920s; earliest use found in Osbert Sitwell (1892–1969), writer. Punning alteration of blackmail, after grey.
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