Meaning of blackface in English:


Pronunciation /ˈblakfeɪs/

See synonyms for blackface on


  • 1mass noun Used to refer to the practice of wearing make-up to imitate the appearance of a black person. The use of such make-up was associated with minstrel shows in the United States from the 1830s until the mid 20th century; it is now regarded as highly offensive.

    ‘he appeared in blackface’
    • ‘blackface minstrels’
    • ‘It seems that the performers were rehearsing in blackface.’
    • ‘The white practice of copying African American mannerisms became so widespread that actors performing in blackface eventually squeezed black theater out of existence.’
    • ‘Most of the rest of the songs, original and traditional, are performed in blackface to illustrate the progress of his minstrel career.’
    • ‘Done up in blackface, Olivier gives a very intelligent reading of the part, providing real conviction to lines that could easily have elicited laughter.’
    • ‘It is not surprising then that Eddie Cantor, the aging, former vaudevillian and radio headliner-turned-television star, performed his most popular musical numbers in blackface.’
    • ‘A minstrel show became four or so men in blackface doing rough and rowdy songs on banjo, fiddle, tambourine and clacking bones, interspersed with japes, skits and dancing.’
    • ‘Two fraternities at the university were suspended as photos of members in blackface were posted on a Web site following a Halloween party.’
    • ‘Although the Jim Crow character as a feature of minstrel shows became popular in the generation before the Civil War, early photographic images of people in blackface are quite rare.’
    • ‘Soon he branches out on his own and progresses quickly from chorus singer to a featured act while appearing in blackface with one of the country's popular minstrel shows.’
    • ‘The high concept involves two young black men donning blackface minstrel makeup, reciting various bits of anachronistic shtick, parodying cruel racial stereotypes of yesteryear.’
    • ‘Whiteface and blackface were not only associated in theatricality; in a more profound sense, they both replicated similar stereotypes.’
    • ‘Soon all blackface performers were known as minstrels.’
    • ‘How had a white dancer in blackface captured a rowdy crowd of laborers?’
    • ‘Significantly, they establish their love for each other through the rehearsals and performance of this blackface play.’
    • ‘He makes an excellent case for the value, integrity, and racial equanimity of blackface minstrel performance.’
    • ‘Alexander believes that Jews did blackface because this type of performance enabled Jews to identify with the sense of exile and loss of home faced by African Americans.’
    • ‘Though Peder and Susie are not wearing blackface, the chronological events of Beret's gaze perform a sort of minstrel act on them.’
    • ‘Al Jolson, the first true multimedia star, got his start as a blackface minstrel.’
    • ‘When fat people are portrayed on film, they're usually played by thin actors in fat suits, a phenomena that's been compared to a modern version of the blackface minstrel show.’
    cosmetics, greasepaint
  • 2A sheep of a breed with a black face.

    ‘In October of 2003, members purchased cheviot rams at the breeding sales and crossed them onto the native blackface Ox Mountain ewes.’
    • ‘Meat from Scotland's famous blackface sheep, one of the country's oldest breeds, can be ordered online.’
    • ‘The sale attracts buyers from all over Ireland because the Mourne blackface has all the qualities required for profitable sheep farming in the difficult years ahead.’
    • ‘Mountain horned blackface sheep make a welcome return to Mayo's premier Show, in Swinford this year.’
    • ‘Foot-and-mouth won't just destroy my livelihood - it would kill off a whole line of blackface sheep that I can trace back over the years.’