Definition of “blackmail” - English Dictionary

“blackmail” in British English

See all translations

blackmailnoun [ U ]

uk /ˈblæk.meɪl/ us /ˈblæk.meɪl/

C2 the act of getting money from people or forcing them to do something by threatening to tell a secret of theirs or to harm them:

If you are in a position of authority, any weakness leaves you open to blackmail.

More examples

blackmailverb [ T ]

uk /ˈblæk.meɪl/ us /ˈblæk.meɪl/

C2 to get money from someone by blackmail:

They used the photographs to blackmail her into spying for them.

More examples

blackmailer
noun [ C ] uk /ˈblækˌmeɪ.lər/ us /ˈblækˌmeɪ.lɚ/

(Definition of “blackmail” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

“blackmail” in American English

See all translations

blackmailnoun [ U ]

us /ˈblækˌmeɪl/

the act of threatening to harm someone or someone's reputation unless the person does as you say, or a payment made to someone who has threatened to harm you or your reputation if you fail to pay the person:

Reckless behavior made him an easy target for blackmail.
blackmail
verb [ T ] us /ˈblækˌmeɪl/

The guy who blackmailed my father went to jail.

(Definition of “blackmail” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

“blackmail” in Business English

See all translations

blackmailnoun [ U ]

uk /ˈblækmeɪl/ us

a situation in which threats are made to harm a person or organization if they do not do something such as give someone money:

Large corporations can be vulnerable to blackmail demands by computer hackers.

blackmailverb [ T ]

uk /ˈblækmeɪl/ us

to make threats to harm a company or organization if they do not do something you want, such as give you money:

A former executive, seeking damages of $2.5 million, was accused of trying to blackmail the company.

(Definition of “blackmail” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)