To blackmail someone is to use secret information to get something from them, usually money. Blackmailing is a crime.

Blackmail is a type of threat. For example, if a politician's assistant knew the politician was having an affair, the assistant could blackmail the politician by threatening to tell the press. Blackmailers usually want money in return for keeping something a secret, but an employee with dirt on a boss could blackmail the boss to get a promotion. Anyone making threats and demands in return for keeping a secret is engaged in blackmail.

Definitions of blackmail

n extortion of money by threats to divulge discrediting information

Type of:
the felonious act of extorting money (as by threats of violence)

v obtain through threats

Type of:
obtain through intimidation

v exert pressure on someone through threats

blackjack, pressure
Type of:
act upon, influence, work
have and exert influence or effect

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