A point-blank shot is fired from very near its target, and a point-blank statement is blunt and straightforward. During an old-fashioned gun duel, people would settle an argument by shooting at each other point-blank.

The original meaning of point-blank, "close enough to hit the center of the target," definitely comes from French, although its origin is a bit of a mystery. Some think the source is point blanc, "white point," referring to the white circle in the middle of a target. Others believe it stems from de pointe en blanc, "point in empty space," used to describe a test shot fired into the air.

Definitions of point-blank

adj close enough to go straight to the target

point-blank range”
“a point-blank shot”
direct in spatial dimensions; proceeding without deviation or interruption; straight and short

adj characterized by directness in manner or speech; without subtlety or evasion

“a point-blank accusation”
blunt, candid, forthright, frank, free-spoken, outspoken, plainspoken, straight-from-the-shoulder
straightforward in means or manner or behavior or language or action

adv in a direct and unequivocal manner

“I asked him point-blank whether he wanted the job”

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, Vocabulary.com can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.