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Idioms and expressions

Namesake of the idiom "black sheep"
  • In the United States, "Black Friday" (the day after Thanksgiving Day, the fourth Thursday in November) is traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year. Many Americans are on holiday because of Thanksgiving, and many retailers open earlier and close later than normal, and offer special prices. The day's name originated in Philadelphia sometime before 1961, and originally was used to describe the heavy and disruptive downtown pedestrian and vehicle traffic which would occur on that day.<ref name="Zimmer">Ben Zimmer, The Origins of "Black Friday," Word Routes (November 25, 2011).</ref><ref name="linguistlist239">Martin L. Apfelbaum, Philadelphia's "Black Friday," American Philatelist, vol. 69, no. 4, p. 239 (January 1966).</ref> Later an alternative explanation began to be offered: that "Black Friday" indicates the point in the year that retailers begin to turn a profit, or are "in the black", because of the large volume of sales on that day.<ref name="Zimmer"/><ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation

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  • "In the black" means profitable. Accountants originally used black ink in ledgers to indicate profit, and red ink to indicate a loss.
  • Black Friday also refers to an particularly disastrous day on financial markets. The first Black Friday (1869), September 24, 1869, was caused by the efforts of two speculators, Jay Gould and James Fisk, to corner the gold market on the New York Gold Exchange.
  • A blacklist is a list of undesirable persons or entities (to be placed on the list is to be "blacklisted").
  • Black comedy is a form of comedy dealing with morbid and serious topics. The expression is similar to black humor or black humour.
  • A black mark against a person relates to something bad they have done.
  • A black mood is a bad one (cf Winston Churchill's clinical depression, which he called "my black dog").<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation

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  • Black market is used to denote the trade of illegal goods, or alternatively the illegal trade of otherwise legal items at considerably higher prices, e.g. to evade rationing.
  • Black propaganda is the use of known falsehoods, partial truths, or masquerades in propaganda to confuse an opponent.
  • Blackmail is the act of threatening someone to do something that would hurt them in some way, such as by revealing sensitive information about them, in order to force the threatened party to fulfill certain demands. Ordinarily, such a threat is illegal.
  • If the black eight-ball, in billiards, is sunk before all others are out of play, the player loses.
  • The black sheep of the family is the ne'er-do-well.
  • To blackball someone is to block their entry into a club or some such institution. In the traditional English gentlemen's club, members vote on the admission of a candidate by secretly placing a white or black ball in a hat. If upon the completion of voting, there was even one black ball amongst the white, the candidate would be denied membership, and he would never know who had "blackballed" him.
  • Black tea in the Western culture is known as "crimson tea" in Chinese and culturally influenced languages (紅 茶, Mandarin Chinese hóngchá; Japanese kōcha; Korean hongcha), perhaps a more accurate description of the color of the liquid.
  • "The black" is a wildfire suppression term referring to a burned area on a wildfire capable of acting as a safety zone.
  • Black coffee refers to coffee without sugar or cream.

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Idioms and expressions
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