What is Little Black Book?

Little Black Book Meaning

Definition: A personal notebook or contacts or journal full of secrets.

As with many English idioms containing the word black, this one refers to something mysterious or even potentially shameful.

People may refer to a journal or part of a journal as their black book or little black book. This means that it is full of personal secrets and private information that might be embarrassing if it were to be shared.

Most often, however, the phrase little black book refers to a list of sexual partners or other personal contacts. Sometimes, it can refer to a list of people who someone dislikes. It is rare for the phrase to refer to other secrets, though it is sometimes used in ways other than these two.

Origin of Little Black Book

define little black book The first use of the phrase came about in the mid-1400s. At that time, it referred to a list of people who had committed crimes or fallen out of favor with leaders.

In 1536, royalty, including Kind Henry VIII, kept a literal black book where the names of people who were sinful were written. This black book was a way of keeping record of who in the kingdom should be punished for their sinful ways.

Examples of Little Black Book

what is a little black book mean The phrase is still used to mean a list of people who are in trouble with someone else, as it was in King Henry VIII’s time. Someone may say,

She’s really gotten herself in his black book now that she’s canceled their plans three times this week.

Now, though, it more commonly references sexual partners. This may derive from the sinful connotations of the phrase. Someone may use the phrase as a euphemism for sexual intercourse, saying,

I have one more name to add to my black book after tonight.

More Examples

  • Hot or not, 1945-style in the Little Black Book […] recorded names and numbers, hair color and beauty rating. –LA Times
  • A University of Wisconsin student accused in a series of sexual assaults kept a black book with women’s names chronicling his “sexual desires,” according to a search warrant in the expanding investigation.New York Post


A little black book is a list of secrets or personal contacts.