Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English homepage

Date: 1500-1600
Origin: black + mail 'payment' (11-20 centuries) (from Old Norse mal 'speech, agreement')

blackmail

1 noun
     
blackā€§mail1 [uncountable]
1 when someone tries to get money from you or make you do what they want by threatening to tell other people your secrets
2 when someone tries to make you do what they want by making threats or by making you feel guilty if you do not do it:
She had already tried emotional blackmail (=tried to make him feel guilty) to stop him leaving.

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