A - Z of Black - More Than Just a Colour

2 Conversations

(paragraphs on black to go here)

More Than Just a Colour

A - Adder and All

  • Blackadder is the general name for any one of the four BBC TV sitcoms and a number of one-off specials based around the life of Edmund Blackadder. Each series is set around a particular historical period, and follows the lives of different Edmund Blackadders, each one a direct descendent of the previous incarnation. Rowan Atkinson plays all four of the different Blackadder charaters

  • The All Blacks are New Zealand's national rugby union team. The All Blacks, named after their black strip, are a high ranking team with a winning formula that has seen them champions of Tri-Nations nine times out of the last thirteen years when the Tri-Nations, which include Australia and South Africa rugby union teams began.

    Their winning record stretches back many years; the All Blacks won their first test match against Australia in 1903. More recently, they were named Team of the Year in 2005, 2006 and 2008 by the International Rugby Board (IRB).

B - Bandana, Balling, Berries, Board and Box

  • In the gay leather world of BDSM a black bandana is sometimes used as a secret code to let others know of their preferences. A black bandana hanging from the right rear pocket indicates the wearer has masochist tendencies, while sadists hang theirs from left rear pocket.

  • Blackballing is an ancient anonymous system of voting using black and white balls placed in a covered box. Individuals could be denied membership of a club, secret society or organisation by the placement of black ball(s), effectively blacklisting them. Blackballing can also be used to vote current members out, after an infringement of rules or other transgression. It is a voting system that is believed to be still in practise in the Freemasons.

    The ancient Greeks are thought to be the first to use this form of voting, using light and dark seashells. The seashells, known as ostrakon forms the root of the English word ostracise.

  • Blackberries are an edible fruit produced by prolific bramble bushes. The bramble bush grows in hedgerows and wild areas of open space. Each blackberry consists of a cluster of smaller globular fruits, known as drupelets, around a fibrous central core called the receptacle. They produce a purple juice when squeezed and can be picked for free1. Blackberries are ripe for picking from around July to November, they can be eaten straight from the bush, or used in various recipes or as a preserve.

  • BlackBerrysmart phone...

  • Blackboards are large panels on which one may write or draw with a chalk. Whatever is written or drawn on the blackboard can be erased easily, so it can be reused indefinitely. In older times, these boards, some of which were small hand-held pieces, were made of slate, which explains that they are called 'black' even though they are nowadays rather green or brown.

    Blackboards are often associated with classrooms and mathematicians. Another place where they are commonly found is in pubs or restaurants, where they are used to advertise the ever-changing 'Today's Specials' or 'Beer of the Month', or used for scoring in darts matches. Sometimes, one may also find them covering public toilet walls, where the bored user can express their unbridled creativity or philosophical moods, without preventing the next day's users from doing the same, as it would be cleaned off for the following day.

  • The Black box is the common term for a flight data recorder (FDR), or accident data recorder (ADR). Its primary use is for investigations after an aircraft accident; it was designed and built to be almost indestructible, however for minimum risk it is usually situated in the tail section of an aircraft, the part in which it has the best chance of remaining intact in the event of an accident. Locating the black box, which is actually painted with bright orange heat resistant paint, for high visibility, is often the second priority in an accident, with the rescue of survivors and recovery of bodies being the first. The black box can also be used to monitor the aircraft's performance, and run air safety checks.

C - Cab and Cat

  • Black cabs, also known as Hackney Carriages, are a popular sight in London, where they originated; crawling along with the many red buses2. Although nowadays they are not always black, the cabs can be any colour under the rainbow, and more often than not, have an advertising slogan on the side doors; however, even the most colourful cab, is still technically a black cab.

    There are also a multitude of mini cabs, also known as taxis; the main difference between a black cab and a mini cab, is that you have to telephone to arrange for transportation with a mini cab, where as you can legally hail a black cab on the street.

  • Depending on a person's superstition, or where you live, as it's said a black cat running in front of you means good luck in the UK or bad luck in the USA. To reverse the curse of bad luck, simply walk in a circle, then go backward across the spot where it happened and count to 13, chanting a charm or line from the Bible.

D - Death and Dress

  • The black death took three forms, Bubonic, pneumonic and septicemic, the former being the most common. The bubonic form was identified by the buboes, or enlarged lymph glands around the neck, groin and arm pits. Known by various terms including, the plague, 'the pestilence' or the Great Mortality, coursed through Europe for three years, between 1347 and 1350, spread by Xenopsylla cheopis, or the rat flea, which carried the bacteria, Yersinia pestis. It is believed that 40% of the European population perished from the disease. It started in China and was carried by traders across the then known world. Some argue that the outbreak in the 1340's was almost entirely the septicemic form, as expressed by the term 'the black death' as well as the massive mortality rate, the symptoms and the rapid onset of death.

    The term 'black death' comes from the septicemic form, as the body extremities turn purple then black as the flesh becomes gangrenous and necrotic. Untreated it is fatal.

    The nursery rhyme Ring-a-ring-a-roses is based on the plague; and the expression 'Bless you' when people sneeze came about from the pneumonic form.

  • The sexy black dress hanging in some ladies wardrobes, for that special occasion, is often referred to as their 'little black dress'...more to add

E - Eye

  • A black eye, also known as a shiner, is basically a bruise around the eye, usually caused by an injury to the eye region, cheek, or forehead, which in some cases can cause double black eyes. Swelling and the bruise can be quite rapid, due to blood and other fluids collecting in the space around the eye. Like any bruise, a black eye will heal by itself after a few days.

F - Friday

  • Black Friday is commonly used to refer to the Friday after Thanksgiving, American harvest festival which is celebrated annually on the fourth Thursday in November when eager bargain hunters throng the malls as the retail outlets begin their pre-Christmas promotions. It is said to be one of the busiest shopping days of the year in the USA. The stampede to get the best bargains is a dangerous pursuit, and has in the past caused at least one fatality and numerous injuries.

  • Black Friday has also been used in connection with government financial crisis since 1868. There have been many Black Fridays since then...more to add

G -

  • Black Gold...

H - Hole

  • A black hole is basically gravity gone mad. It isn't actually black and it's not really a hole. The nickname was applied when they were only hypothesised, and they became a staple of science fiction. Now we know that they do actually exist, and basically what they are, a name-change would only confuse matters. The core of the black hole is called the singularity. The opening, where stuff gets sucked in, is called the event horizon. This is where you would be 'spaghettified' if you got so close to a black hole that you couldn't escape its gravitational pull. There are two types of black hole:

    • Supermassive: these lurk at the centre of galaxies, consuming stars for breakfast. We know there is one at the centre of the Milky Way; but it's nothing to worry about as we reside in one of the spiral arms, nowhere near the core. We can 'see' black holes at the centre of other galaxies because the stuff that is being pulled into them by the immense gravitational force speeds up and spews out energy in the form of X-ray radiation as it is torn apart.
    • Remnant of a supernova: a supergiant star, many times bigger than our own Sun, explodes and may eventually collapse to form a black hole. These are the black holes which are invisible, we only know they're there when they are actually feeding.

    Astronomers have worked out that there is a correlation between a galaxy and the supermassive black hole at its core. However, what they don't know is what came first — the galaxy or the black hole. This kind of conundrum is commonly known as the 'chicken and egg syndrome'. Black holes can merge, for example when two (or more) galaxies collide in what is colloquially known as a 'cosmic trainwreck'. The galaxies thrash each other to bits over many millions of years, until they settle down in the form of a brand new galaxy with its stars all orbiting the central black hole, the product of the original two.

I - Ice

  • Black ice, also known as 'clear ice', forms when ground moisture from frost, or light rain freezes, causing a transparent sheet of ice, revealing the colour of the surface below, which on most roads is usually black asphalt, hence the phrase, 'black ice'. Driving conditions can be hazardous as the black ice is almost invisible. Black ice is not confined to roads; it can also appear on pavements during cold weather spells.

J -

  • Black Jet Jewellery...

  • Blackjack...card game

K -

  • Black Knight...

L -

  • Blackleg...

  • Blacklist...

M - Mood

  • Black Magic...

  • Blackmail...

  • Black Market...

  • A black mood was commonly used to describe a general state of major depression, before all the different categories of depression were introduced into the mental health system. Also known as 'the black dog'; this phrase was originally coined by depression sufferer and English writer Samuel Johnson, in the 1780s, and more recently made popular by former British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill, when he was describing his own depression.

N -

  • Black Noise...

O - Operation

  • A black operation, often shortened to a black op, is a covert operation or mission, which is typically illegal, it could include anything from placing a bug on someone's telephone, to kidnap or even assignation. However, the organisation which ordered the operation takes no responsibility and will go to extreme lengths to cover their tracks. The black ops are commonly carried out by military organisations, such as the SAS.

P - Penny and Pudding

  • The Penny Black, which has a black-and-white portrait of Queen Victoria's head in profile, was the world’s first adhesive postage stamp, issued in London, UK in 1840, at the cost of one penny. The stamp has the word 'Postage' along the top, and 'One Penny' along the bottom. Today, the Penny Black has a value of around £3,000 to £4,000 (mint condition) and is highly sought by stamp collectors.

  • Black Pudding, which requires an acquired taste, is not a pudding at all but a large sausage made from boiled pigs blood and fat, which is then bound with barley or oatmeal. Black pudding is served sliced and fried, customary as part of a fry-up breakfast. The most popular place for producing and consuming black pudding in the UK is Lancashire.

    The World Black Pudding throwing Competition is held annually in Bury, Lancashire, the contestants throw black puddings at a row of Yorkshire puddings balanced on a wall, the one who knocks the most off is the winner.

Q -

R - Rod

  • Black Rod, full title Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod is an official in the House of Lords; his duties include security, maintaining order and control of access to the House. However, he is best known for his role in the state opening of the UK parliament each November and after General Elections. He summons the MPs from the House of Commons to the House of Lords. Although they are expecting him they slam the door in his face and he has to knock three times with his ceremonial mace. This is to symbolise the fact that the House of Commons is independent and does not have to take notice of Lords or Queens. The MPs then follow him to the House of Lords to hear the Queen's Speech although they know the way and some of them helped write the speech anyway.

S - Sheep and Shuck

  • Black sheep, there is one of these in almost every family; the one that doesn’t conform to what society considers as acceptable behaviour and causes embarrassment to the family. The term black sheep originated from the occasional birth of a lamb with black fleece3, as opposed to the regular white fleece.

  • The nursery rhyme, Baa, Baa Black Sheep has in recent times caused some controversy, with a couple of nurseries in Oxfordshire re-phrasing the children's rhyme to Baa Baa Rainbow Sheep. They were however a tiny minority, and no action was taken in the mainstream UK education system, any advice to do so was ridiculed.

  • The Black Shuck, also known as 'Old Shuck' is the name of a supposedly ghostly black dog, which haunts the coastline of Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk. It is believed the word 'shuck' comes from the old English word scucca, meaning demon. The sightings of the black shuck are said to date back to pre-Viking times, it may be one of Great Britain's oldest phantoms.

    As with most legends, there are various conflicting descriptions. Some have described the shuck being a large shaggy dog, the size of a small calf or as big as a horse; with red eyes, as big as sauces, or greens eyes, or just one eye. Sometimes referred to as a bad omen, as after sighting the black shuck, the person suffers the death of a friend or relative. While other tales say the black shuck acted as an escort for ladies, ensuring their safe travel. Although most sightings were nothing more than a frightening experience.

T - Tan and Tie

  • Black and Tan refers to an alcoholic drink, known as a beer cocktail, comprising of a blend of ale and stout, or sometimes lager and stout. To make Black and Tan, firstly pour half a pint of ale or lager into a pint glass, and then, using the back of a spoon, held against the glass, very gently pour the stout on to the top of the ale or lager, so that the stout sits on the top, serve and enjoy.

  • Black tie is a dress code indicating that the event will be a formal one. A man will be expected to wear a dinner jacket, which is customary black, as well as black trousers and a white shirt or a dark suit, and of course a black tie, traditionally a bow tie. Ladies would be expected to dress conservatively in a black or dark coloured cocktail dress or an evening gown.

U -

  • Black Ultraviolet Light...

V - Velvet

  • Black velvet is a cocktail drink made with stout and champagne4, or as in the 'poor man's version', cider, preferably white cider. The black velvet is made of 50% of each ingredient, both should be chilled. Using a champagne flute, or a pint glass if using cider, half fill with the champagne or cider; next you need to bend a table spoon, not your best silver, so that it resembles a ladle, and then use this to very gently pour the stout into the bent spoon so that it overflows and slowly runs on top of your champagne or cider, the end result should be that the stout sits on top of your champagne or cider, serve and enjoy.

    Black velvet is believed to have originated in Brooks’s Club, London, during the mourning of Prince Albert in 1861. Apparently, a steward at the club decided that the champagne should also be in mourning, and so added stout to it, thereby creating the black velvet.

W - Wednesday and Widow Spider

  • Black Wednesday refers to 16th September 1992, when the British Conservative government failed to keep sterling above its agreed lower limit. The government was therefore forced to withdraw the Pound Sterling from European Exchange Rate Mechanism; at the cost of approximately £3.4 billion...(why the dots, is there more to add)

  • The Black Widow spider, which can be found in throughout the USA but primarily in the south of the country. This is one case in which the female of the species is definitely deadlier than the male, as female Black Widows are extremely venomous5 and are about double the size of the males. However, the belief, from which the name originates, that the females eat the males after mating is generally inaccurate, though it is not unknown. Black Widows are solitary and any other form of approach from any other spider would probably lead to their being eaten. Female Black Widows will hatch about 100 young but they eat each other and only a small number will survive.

X -

  • X is the new black...(post 97)

Y -

  • Black and Yellow ladybird...

Z - Zodiac

  • The Black Zodiac is a set fictional zodiac signs created by an entertainment company for their 2001 remake of the 1960 film Thir13en Ghosts, also known as, 13 Ghosts and Thirteen Ghosts. Each of the invented zodiac signs represents the ghost of a character in the ghost hunting horror film.

1 Providing you do not trespass on any one's land.2Though, unfortunately, not the withdrawn Routemasters.3Black fleece was not commercially viable, as it could not be dyed.4White wine can be used instead of champagne.5Though they are rarely fatal to humans due to the small amount of venom injected from a bite.

Bookmark on your Personal Space



Infinite Improbability Drive

Infinite Improbability Drive

Read a random Edited Entry


h2g2 Entries

External Links

Not Panicking Ltd is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


h2g2 is created by h2g2's users, who are members of the public. The views expressed are theirs and unless specifically stated are not those of the Not Panicking Ltd. Unlike Edited Entries, Entries have not been checked by an Editor. If you consider any Entry to be in breach of the site's House Rules, please register a complaint. For any other comments, please visit the Feedback page.

Write an Entry

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a wholly remarkable book. It has been compiled and recompiled many times and under many different editorships. It contains contributions from countless numbers of travellers and researchers."

Write an entry
Read more