What Does Blackmail Someone into Doing Something Mean?

Blackmail Someone Into Something Meaning

Definition: To demand payment in exchange for keeping a secret.

To blackmail someone is an illegal offense. People can be jailed for the act of blackmail on a large scale or for a great sum of money.

Someone who blackmails somebody knows a secret that the other person does not want to get out. The blackmailer will claim to keep that secret in exchange for money or another form of payment. In this way, a blackmailer has the power over someone else to make him or her do what he or she wants.

If someone is blackmailed into doing something, he or she is forced into an action by somebody else in order to keep a secret.

Origin of To Blackmail Someone

someone is trying to blackmail meThe color black is typically associated with evil or negativity. The English word mail comes from a Norse word for an agreement. Put together, the phrase blackmail is an evil agreement.

The phrase blackmail has been in use since the 16th century, when chieftains in the lands between England and Scotland would demand money from people on their land in order to prevent attacks on them.

These people referred to regular rent money as white money and money paid to chieftains to prevent them from attacking as black money. This term evolved into blackmail.

Examples of To Blackmail Someone

someone is blackmailing me what do i doBlackmail is a form of extortion. Someone who is blackmailed into doing something has been forced to do something he or she wants to avoid. This could involve a payment or an action.

For example, if a man knows a secret about a woman in which he is interested, and she does not want that secret to get out, he may blackmail her into dating him by saying,

  • You must go on public dates with me, or I will post your secret online.

This is a common trope in television shows and dramas.

More Examples

  • Also on the payroll were the prostitutes deployed to entrap and blackmail visiting foreign politicians and businessmen. –New York Times
  • President Nixon, during a lengthy meeting in the Oval Office on March 21, 1973, told White House counsel John W. Dean III that “you have no choice but to come up with the $120,000” demanded as blackmail payment by one of the Watergate burglars… –Washington Post


The English phrase to blackmail someone into doing something is to demand payment or action in exchange for keeping a secret.