Word of the Day

Black Friday

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Liz Potter
Written by Liz Potter


the day after the Thanksgiving holiday in the US, when many people start their Christmas shopping

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary

Origin and usage

The proper noun Black Friday is a combination of the adjective ‘black’ and the noun ‘Friday’. It was first used in the 17th century.


The term Black Friday dates back to the early 1600s and has referred to many different events over the centuries, from exams to stock market panics. The current meaning dates from the mid 20th century; the term in this case was originally said to refer to the congestion caused by crowds of eager shoppers and later said to be in reference to the fact that shopkeepers made big profits and so were ‘in the black‘. Whatever the origin, the expression stands out because of its (largely) positive connotations, in contrast to the negative meaning of most days that are labelled ‘black‘, which generally refer to financial crashes of one kind or another. Black Friday has swelled from being a day or perhaps a weekend of shopping to fill a whole week or even longer, with many firms offering deals before Thanksgiving has even occurred. Black Friday is one of the entries that comes into the Macmillan Thesaurus category of ‘Selling events‘. Another is Cyber Monday, which refers to the Monday after Thanksgiving, when there is traditionally a big increase in shopping on the internet. Cyber Monday is the subject of a previous post as well as a BuzzWord article by Kerry Maxwell, written back in the days when online shopping was in its infancy.


You may have heard of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. There’s another day you might want to know about: Giving Tuesday. The idea is pretty straightforward. On the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, shoppers take a break from their gift-buying and donate what they can to charity.
(Bill Gates)

Related Words

Cyber Monday, cybershopping, clearance sale, garage sale

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

About the author

Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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