Metaphorically speaking, evil, unhappy, negative, gloomy, malicious and otherwise unpleasant. Supposedly, this association comes from the danger posed to primitive peoples by night. More recently, Americans of African descent have attacked this link, arguing that it is racist and derogatory. (This node takes no position in that argument, but merely notes its important position in the culture wars of the last several decades.)

Matisse considered black a color, and saw it as a necessary part of "color orchestration." Kandinsky believed that black represented the absence of color and life, "something extinguished, like a spent funeral-pyre, something motionless, like a corpse." For Ad Reinhardt, black was the ultimate expression of the "theory of negation" that was the subtext of abstraction.

In wildfire terminology, the black is the area the fire has already burned through. This area may contain some-still smoldering debris, but for the most part it is free of any fuels. For this reason, the black is the best place to be if a fire gets a little too crazy. The problem is... it's generally on the other side of the fire and hard to get to. But if you're threatened by a fire and can get to the black without putting yourself in danger, its probably a good idea. Otherwise, its time to deploy your fire shelter and hope for the best

Black was also the pen name of Colin Vearncombe, a British singer / songwriter who had a fairly large hit in 1987 with 'Wonderful Life', a song which manages to be both happy and sad at the same time.

'Wonderful Life' was taken from Colin's 1985 debut album, also called 'Wonderful Life', released on an independent label; he had been recording since 1983 on WEA, without much success, and was on the verge of obscurity when 'Wonderful Life' came along. On the strength of the album he signed to A&M, with whom he had chart success in 1986 (the single 'Sweetest Smile') and 1987 ('Wonderful Life').

Black recorded two further albums for A&M - 'Comedy' and 'Black' without repeating this success, and left the label in 1991. A further album, 'Are we having fun yet', emerged in 1993 on his own record label, again without denting the charts. After this, the name 'Black' was dropped, and Colin continues to release records under his own name. He was born in 1962 in Liverpool and his starsign is Cancer.

A common designation for one of the opponents in various two-player board games (see also white).

While White's pieces are virtually always white or ivory in color, Black's come in black or almost any other color.

Some properties of Black in various games:


Black has the disadvantage of moving second; in master-level play, this can be significant enough that finishing with a draw can be quite satisfactory.

As with checkers, Black's pieces sometimes come in very distracting colors -- particularly incomprehensibly, bright red. You only see this in really cheap (plastic and cardboard) sets. On the other extreme, expensive sets are made of varied materials, with jade being a popular material for Black's pieces. Such sets are mostly decorative, like many grand pianos and telescopes, but even less likely to be used because of excessive ornateness.

Since Black starts with two bishops, one which moves only on light squares and the other only on the dark squares, they are referred to not as black bishops but as light- or dark-squared bishops (since the pieces themselves are the same color).


Black moves first in Go, and this is considered to be a major advantage. Since Go uses a numerical scoring system, this advantage, called komi, is quantified at 5.5 points (using the standard 19x19 game board; I assume it has a smaller value with the smaller boards).


Terrace gives Black the first move. This presumably gives em an advantage similar in nature to that of White in chess; this game being only a few years old as of this writing and thus not extensively studied as the ancient games have been, the exact benefit to Black is probably not as well understood.

black is often used to describe certain government programs or operations that are very close-hold, highly top secret, I'd tell you but then I'd have to kill you, that sort of thing. The Stealth Fighter, for example, was a black project. It was not ackknowledged to exist until many years after it was deployed.

See also Area 51.

KANJI: KOKU kuro (black)

ASCII Art Representation:

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Character Etymology:

Stylized from a pictograph of flames—炎—under a grate—田—with :: marks indicating soot. The soot stands for black.

A Listing of All On-Yomi and Kun-Yomi Readings:

on-yomi: KOKU
kun-yomi: kuro

Nanori Readings:

Nanori: none

English Definitions:

  1. KOKU, kuro: black; dark.
  2. kuro(zumu), kuro(zuku): blacken, darken.
  3. kuro(bamu), kuro(maru): become blackened, become darkened.
  4. kuro(meru): blacken; talk wrong into right.
  5. kuro(raka): blackness, deep black.
  6. kuro(ku) suru: blacken.
  7. kuro(i): black; dark, swarthy, browned; dirty.
  8. kuro(ppoi): dark, blackish.

Character Index Numbers:

New Nelson: 7052
Henshall: 124

Unicode Encoded Version:

Unicode Encoded Compound Examples:

(kokujin): a person of african decent.
(kuroyama): a large crowd, throng of people.
(kuro-shiro): black-and-white; good-and-evil.
(kokushibyou): the black death

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Blacks are also, as many know, a socioeconomic group of people--originally a racial group, but less so now, as black Americans have become distinctly different from African blacks, and more intermingled and interbred with the white American (European-descended) population.

The word "blacks" says a lot. Throughout a long and difficult history of domination, oppression, and the dangling tease of freedom, this group of immigrants has struggled to be seen as human by their (equally non-native) brothers and sisters. Pretty much the closest we've gotten is this: To call them by, not the color of their skin, but a stylization of their color; an expression that identifies, not really them, but rather how different they are from us.

The word "blacks" lacks the invective of the word "nigger"; rather than to insult, its aim is simply to trace the borderline, digging it in a little deeper: They're black. We're white. We're as different as different can get; we're all the way on the other side of the spectrum. ...Yeah, whatever.

Considering the gentle, matter-of-fact way the label "blacks' is often delivered, and the damage such thinking does to any effort at real equality, I wonder sometimes if "nigger", while meaner, isn't at least more honest. At least, when using racial slurs, we can't deny that we're drawing lines, and pushing large chunks of humanity over to the other side. But what's a better word? "Black Americans" isn't any better, being essentially the same thing with a graduation cap on. "African Americans" has its master's degree; but a good chunk of them aren't even African, even if they are negroid-appearing. They might be Mexican, Puerto Rican, South American...what we mean by "blacks" is "the dark people", not "the Africans". Half of them are some mix of something by now, anyway, so "continent of origin many generations back" doesn't do it. Hell, four generations back, I'm German. Do I get called anything? Hell no; I'm an American. See?

Then there's "Negro". It's technically correct, since the scientific term for a dark-skinned human with African-looking characteristics is "negroid"--and one could easily see referring to "Occidentals, orientals, Native Americans and Negros" in a friendly public setting -- but then, that word's been totally ruined by those Jim Crow mofos and freaks like the KKK.

Well, somebody else will have to come up with the better word, if there is one; or, even better, we can stop worrying about words and fix the darn problem already. Me, I live in Detroit, and 'round here we don't call "blacks" anything, really. (We tend to call everybody "nigga", but it's equal opportunity slang.) Socially disadvantaged or not, "they"'re about 60% of our population, so you can call "them" names if you, I'm rather sick of it all. Like the oppression of women, the oppression of the dark-skinned -- of immigrants who are easily identifiable, basically -- is just juvenile, and it needs to stop.

Black (?), a. [OE. blak, AS. blaec; akin to Icel. blakkr dark, swarthy, Sw. black ink, Dan. blaek, OHG. blach, LG. & D. blaken to burn with a black smoke. Not akin to AS. blac, E. bleak pallid. 98.]


Destitute of light, or incapable of reflecting it; of the color of soot or coal; of the darkest or a very dark color, the opposite of white; characterized by such a color; as, black cloth; black hair or eyes.

O night, with hue so black! Shak.


In a less literal sense: Enveloped or shrouded in darkness; very dark or gloomy; as, a black night; the heavens black with clouds.

I spy a black, suspicious, threatening cloud. Shak.


Fig.: Dismal, gloomy, or forbidding, like darkness; destitute of moral light or goodness; atrociously wicked; cruel; mournful; calamitous; horrible.

"This day's black fate." "Black villainy." "Arise, black vengeance." "Black day." "Black despair."



Expressing menace, or discontent; threatening; sullen; foreboding; as, to regard one with black looks.

Black is often used in self-explaining compound words; as, black-eyed, black-faced, black-haired, black-visaged.

Black act, the English statute 9 George I, which makes it a felony to appear armed in any park or warren, etc., or to hunt or steal deer, etc., with the face blackened or disguised. Subsequent acts inflicting heavy penalties for malicious injuries to cattle and machinery have been called black acts. -- Black angel Zool., a fish of the West Indies and Florida (Holacanthus tricolor), with the head and tail yellow, and the middle of the body black. -- Black antimony Chem., the black sulphide of antimony, Sb2S3, used in pyrotechnics, etc. -- Black bear Zool., the common American bear (Ursus Americanus). -- Black beast. See Bete noire. -- Black beetle Zool., the common large cockroach (Blatta orientalis). -- Black and blue, the dark color of a bruise in the flesh, which is accompanied with a mixture of blue. "To pinch the slatterns black and blue." Hudibras. -- Black bonnet Zool., the black-headed bunting (Embriza Scheniclus) of Europe. -- Black canker, a disease in turnips and other crops, produced by a species of caterpillar. -- Black cat Zool., the fisher, a quadruped of North America allied to the sable, but larger. See Fisher. -- Black cattle, any bovine cattle reared for slaughter, in distinction from dairy cattle. [Eng.] -- Black cherry. See under Cherry. -- Black cockatoo Zool., the palm cockatoo. See Cockatoo. -- Black copper. Same as Melaconite. -- Black currant. Bot. See Currant. -- Black diamond. Min. See Carbonado. -- Black draught Med., a cathartic medicine, composed of senna and magnesia. -- Black drop Med., vinegar of opium; a narcotic preparation consisting essentially of a solution of opium in vinegar. -- Black earth, mold; earth of a dark color. Woodward. -- Black flag, the flag of a pirate, often bearing in white a skull and crossbones; a signal of defiance. -- Black flea Zool., a flea beetle (Haltica nemorum) injurious to turnips. -- Black flux, a mixture of carbonate of potash and charcoal, obtained by deflagrating tartar with half its weight of niter. Brande & C. -- Black fly. Zool. (a) In the United States, a small, venomous, two-winged fly of the genus Simulium of several species, exceedingly abundant and troublesome in the northern forests. The larvae are aquatic. (b) A black plant louse, as the bean aphis (A. fabae). -- Black Forest [a translation of G. Schwarzwald], a forest in Baden and Wurtemburg, in Germany; a part of the ancient Hercynian forest. -- Black game, or Black grouse. Zool. See Blackcock, Grouse, and Heath grouse. -- Black grass Bot., a grasslike rush of the species Juncus Gerardi, growing on salt marshes, and making good hay. -- Black gum Bot., an American tree, the tupelo or pepperidge. See Tupelo. -- Black Hamburg (grape) Bot., a sweet and juicy variety of dark purple or "black" grape. -- Black horse Zool., a fish of the Mississippi valley (Cycleptus elongatus), of the sucker family; the Missouri sucker. -- Black lemur Zool., the Lemurniger of Madagascar; the acoumbo of the natives. -- Black list, a list of persons who are for some reason thought deserving of censure or punishment; -- esp. a list of persons stigmatized as insolvent or untrustworthy, made for the protection of tradesmen or employers. See Blacklist, v. t. -- Black manganese Chem., the black oxide of manganese, MnO2. -- Black Maria, the close wagon in which prisoners are carried to or from jail. -- Black martin Zool., the chimney swift. See Swift. -- Black moss Bot., the common so-called long moss of the southern United States. See Tillandsia. -- Black oak. See under Oak. -- Black ocher. See Wad. -- Black pigment, a very fine, light carbonaceous substance, or lampblack, prepared chiefly for the manufacture of printers' ink. It is obtained by burning common coal tar. -- Black plate, sheet iron before it is tinned. Knight. -- Black quarter, malignant anthrax with engorgement of a shoulder or quarter, etc., as of an ox. -- Black rat Zool., one of the species of rats (Mus rattus), commonly infesting houses. -- Black rent. See Blackmail, n., 3. -- Black rust, a disease of wheat, in which a black, moist matter is deposited in the fissures of the grain. -- Black sheep, one in a family or company who is unlike the rest, and makes trouble. -- Black silver. Min. See under Silver. -- Black and tan, black mixed or spotted with tan color or reddish brown; -- used in describing certain breeds of dogs. -- Black tea. See under Tea. -- Black tin Mining, tin ore (cassiterite), when dressed, stamped and washed, ready for smelting. It is in the form of a black powder, like fine sand. Knight. -- Black walnut. See under Walnut. -- Black warrior Zool., an American hawk (Buteo Harlani).

Syn. -- Dark; murky; pitchy; inky; somber; dusky; gloomy; swart; Cimmerian; ebon; atrocious.


© Webster 1913.

Black (?), adv.

Sullenly; threateningly; maliciously; so as to produce blackness.


© Webster 1913.

Black, n.


That which is destitute of light or whiteness; the darkest color, or rather a destitution of all color; as, a cloth has a good black.

Black is the badge of hell, The hue of dungeons, and the suit of night. Shak.


A black pigment or dye.


A negro; a person whose skin is of a black color, or shaded with black; esp. a member or descendant of certain African races.


A black garment or dress; as, she wears black; pl. (Obs.)

Mourning garments of a black color; funereal drapery.

Friends weeping, and blacks, and obsequies, and the like show death terrible. Bacon.

That was the full time they used to wear blacks for the death of their fathers. Sir T. North.


The part of a thing which is distinguished from the rest by being black.

The black or sight of the eye. Sir K. Digby.


A stain; a spot; a smooch.

Defiling her white lawn of chastity with ugly blacks of lust. Rowley.

Black and white, writing or print; as, I must have that statement in black and white. -- Blue black, a pigment of a blue black color. -- Ivory black, a fine kind of animal charcoal prepared by calcining ivory or bones. When ground it is the chief ingredient of the ink used in copperplate printing. -- Berlin black. See under Berlin.


© Webster 1913.

Black, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Blacked ; p. pr. & vb. n. Blacking.] [See Black, a., and cf. Blacken.]


To make black; to blacken; to soil; to sully.

They have their teeth blacked, both men and women, for they say a dog hath his teeth white, therefore they will black theirs. Hakluyt.

Sins which black thy soul. J. Fletcher.


To make black and shining, as boots or a stove, by applying blacking and then polishing with a brush.


© Webster 1913.

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