Blacked Out: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
October 2, 2023

The phrase "blacked out" often creates an image of darkness, lost memories, or temporary loss of consciousness. It's an idiom that we use in various contexts, from healthcare to social events.

In short:

"Blacked out" generally refers to a temporary loss of consciousness, memory, or even electrical power.

What Does "Blacked Out" Mean?

The idiom has several connotations and usages in everyday language:

  • Healthcare: In a medical context, to black out means to lose consciousness temporarily.
  • Memory Loss: When someone says they blacked out, it may imply they have no memory of certain events, usually because of the influence of substances like alcohol.
  • Power Failure: The term is also used to describe situations where electrical power is lost in an area.

In essence, the phrase can be stretched to fit various scenarios but revolves around the loss of something, whether it's light, memory, or consciousness.

Where Does "Blacked Out" Come From?

While the phrase has been adapted for various uses over time, the core idea revolves around a loss of something—be it light, consciousness, memory, or even the free flow of information.

Historical Usage

The idiom has its roots in several domains:

  • War: During World War II, the term "blackout" was used to describe the act of turning off all lights to avoid giving navigational assistance to enemy planes.
  • Medicine: The medical field also adopted the term to describe fainting or periods of unconsciousness.

"It was a city of blacked out streets and anxious hearts,"

- Reporter during World War II.

10 Examples of "Blacked Out" in Sentences

Understanding an idiom like "blacked out" becomes simpler when seen in varied contexts:

  • After working non-stop for 48 hours, she blacked out.
  • From my perspective, if you blacked out the last night, you should go to a doctor.
  • He blacked out during his morning glory run due to dehydration.
  • The town blacked out after the hurricane damaged the power lines.
  • We need to black out the windows for the photography session.
  • She blacked out the offensive language from the manuscript.
  • After an intense evening out, Sarah realized she had blacked out and couldn't remember parts of the night.
  • In some situations, things are just meant to be; even when faced with challenges, some paths become clear while doubts are blacked out.
  • When you believe in your strategy, it's time to double down, ignoring distractions until uncertainties are blacked out.
  • Let's switch gears; if you're feeling dizzy, you might black out, so sit down.

Examples of "Blacked Out" in Pop Culture

Pop culture has its fair share of instances where the idiom has been employed:

  • The TV series Lost has an episode where a character blacks out and loses memory.
  • In the song “Rehab” by Amy Winehouse, she mentions blacking out from excessive drinking.
  • The movie Fight Club uses the concept of blacking out as a pivotal plot point.
  • Stephen King’s book “Under the Dome” features a town that is blacked out due to an impenetrable dome.
  • The video game “Call of Duty: Black Ops 4” has a battle royale mode named "Blackout."

Synonyms: Other/Different Ways to Say "Blacked Out"

There are several synonyms and phrases that convey similar meanings.

  • Fainted: Specifically for loss of consciousness.
  • Passed out: For both loss of consciousness and memory.
  • Power outage: Refers to loss of electrical power.

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "Blacked Out":

  • What does "blacked out" mean?

The term "blacked out" can have multiple meanings depending on the context. It can refer to a temporary loss of consciousness, a gap in memory, the act of censoring media, or even the intentional shutting down of electricity. The meaning changes based on the situation in which it is used.

  • Where did this term originate?

The idiom has several origins. One of the earliest uses was during World War II, where cities would "black out" their lights to protect against enemy bombers. In medical contexts, it describes a temporary loss of consciousness or vision. In modern usage, it can also refer to memory gaps due to substance abuse.

  • Is the idiom used in medical terminology?

Yes, in medical contexts, 'blacked out' is used to describe a temporary loss of consciousness or vision. It often serves as a simplified way to discuss complex symptoms or conditions, such as fainting or experiencing a blackout due to low blood pressure.

  • Can "blacked out" refer to censorship?

Yes, the term can also be applied to situations where information is censored or suppressed. For instance, a government might 'black out' news coverage about a sensitive topic. This usage extends to both media and individual speech.

  • How should I react if someone says they "blacked out"?

Your reaction should depend on the context. If it involves a medical issue, immediate attention may be required. If the person is describing a lapse in memory due to substance use, advising medical consultation is a prudent step.

  • Does medical terminology use this term?

A blackout can be a symptom of a range of medical conditions, some of which may be serious. These could include low blood sugar, dehydration, or even neurological conditions. If someone experiences repeated blackouts, medical advice should be sought immediately.

  • Does the legal context use the term "blacked out"?

Yes, "blacked out" can appear in legal contexts, particularly in relation to DUI (Driving Under the Influence) cases or instances where a person couldn't recall their actions due to intoxication. In such situations, the term can have implications for culpability and consent.

  • Does British and American English use the phrase differently?

The term is generally understood to mean the same thing in both British and American English, although the frequency of its usage may vary. Both cultures recognize its application in medical, social, and historical contexts.

  • Does "blacked out" have a slang meaning?

In modern slang, particularly among younger people, "blacked out" often refers to forgetting what happened during a night of heavy drinking. This slang usage is less formal and often appears in social conversations.

  • How do you use "blacked out" in a sentence?

Using "blacked out" in a sentence requires understanding the context. For medical situations, you might say, "He blacked out and fell down." For historical contexts, you could say, "The city blacked out during the air raid." In terms of censorship, you might mention, "The government blacked out all news about the protest."

Final Thoughts About "Blacked Out"

The idiom "blacked out" is incredibly multifaceted, appearing in diverse contexts from history to pop culture.

  • People commonly use the term to describe a temporary loss of consciousness, memory, or electrical power.
  • Its origins stretch back to significant historical events, such as World War II, and has made its way into various facets of modern life, including healthcare, social situations, and even pop culture.

Understanding the different nuances of 'this term can provide a richer comprehension of the language we use and the cultural or historical background that accompanies it. Incorporating this idiom correctly into conversations can make communication more effective.

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