1. Black and white
To take everything into consideration and oversimplify something. To judge everything as either one way or the other, good or bad.
- Our boss always thinks that everything is straightforward, but he doesn’t realise that this whole situation is not as black and white as he thinks!
2. Put something down in black and white
To write or have something written down on paper for confirmation or evidence
- I don’t understand why you don’t believe me! Look, it’s written here in black and white!
3. Black as night
Somewhere very dark, when it is hard to see anything
- We had another power cut last night; it was as black as night in our house. We didn’t even have any candles!
4. Black and blue
Used to describe something that is badly bruised
- John’s face was black and blue after the
5. Black eye
A bruise near one’s eye
- Fred came home with a horrible black eye today, but he won’t tell us what
6. Black out
This means to, either darken by putting out or dimming the lights, or to lose consciousness.
- We had a huge black out here last night, the whole town was out of power for about 7 hours!
- I don’t know what happened to him, he just blacked out! Maybe he banged his head.
7. Black as a skillet
Used to describe something that is very dirty, black with dirt
- My hands and clothes were as black as a skillet, and I was only halfway through cleaning your garage!
8. Black market
A term used for places where goods are illegally bought and sold for a profit.
- Jerry used to sell cigarettes from South America on the black market!
9. Blackball someone
To exclude or ostracise someone socially, reject them
- Their company has been blackballed ever since that scandal was all over the newspapers. No one wants to do business with them anymore.
10. Blacklist someone
To write someone’s name on a list if they break any rules, and ban them from having the opportunity to take part again
- “I was in a lot of debt a while ago, and was unable to pay it all back, so I’ve been blacklisted. I’m not allowed to get a mortgage in my own name.
11. Pot calling the kettle black (shorten version: pot kettle black)
This is used when the person who hypocritically criticises or accuses someone else is as guilty as the person he or she criticises or accuses
- She kept telling me that I shouldn’t do that, but that’s like the pot calling the kettle black, as she does it herself too!
12. Blackmail someone
To extort or take money from someone by using their secrets against them and threatening to reveal it to others
- He has been blackmailing me for months with some
photosthat I didn’t know he had. I need someone to help me stop him!
13. In someone’s black books
To be in disgrace or in disfavour with someone
- After that argument yesterday, I assure you he will be in a lot of people’s black books for quite some time!
14. Black tie event/affair
A formal event where male guests wear black bow ties with tuxedos or
- The award’s ceremony will be a black tie event, so I’ll have to buy a
smartsuit. My wife is going to wear her purple ball gown.
15. Black sheep
Used to describe a person who is the ‘odd one out’ of a group, and doesn’t fit in with others around them. This could also be used to talk about someone who is a disgrace or embarrassment to their group.
- I have always been the black sheep in my family, I have a completely different personality to all of them, and we don’t even look the same!
16. In the black
Meaning successful or profitable
- Their company has been in the black ever since the new CEO took over, and changed it all around!
17. Pitch black
Another term for somewhere that is very dark, and you are unable to see anything
- I was afraid to go downstairs, the whole house was pitch black, and very quiet.