This is a word confusion that’s always confused me, and I decided to delve into it after Kristian Knutsen’s story at The Daily Page about an attorney/journalist, Ann E. Fleischli, extorting a bookstore owner.
The original, or base difference, is the average joe blackmails while a politician extorts. Today, the difference is one of revealing something the victim doesn’t want known (blackmail) versus doing harm to someone (extortion).
…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.
|Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Merriam-Webster; Daily Writing Tips; Quick & Dirty Tips; Free Advice: Criminal Law|
|Part of Grammar:|
|Noun; Verb, transitive
Plural for noun: blackmail
Plural for noun: extortion
Encompasses threats made by private persons to gain anything of value. And generally, a thing of value is broadly defined, including not only money and property, but also sexual favors.
The action, treated as a criminal offense, of demanding money from a person in return for not revealing compromising or injurious information about that person
A tribute formerly exacted in the north of England and in Scotland by freebooting chiefs for protection from pillage
Blackmail is considered a form of extortion by in some states and by the feds if it crosses state lines.
The narrow definition refers to the unlawful taking by a government official of money or property—either by threats or simply in return for performing some official act (this has been expanded recently to include private individuals)
Unlawful exaction of money, property, or services through intimidation, coercion, or undue exercise of authority, which may include threats of physical harm, criminal prosecution, destruction of property, improper government action, inaction of the testimony, the withholding of testimony in a legal action, or public exposure
The crime of getting money from someone by the use of force or threats
The act or practice of extorting, especially money or other property
[Slang] A gross overcharge
They were acquitted of charges of blackmail.
We do not pay blackmail.
It was extortional blackmail!
Out of fear, she submitted to Jim’s emotional blackmail.
They are trying to blackmail us with hunger.
The membership felt that they were blackmailed into accepting the changes.
He had blackmailed her into sailing with him.
|He was convicted of trying to extort $1 million from a developer.
He was arrested and charged with extortion.
Six dollars for a cup of coffee is just plain extortion.
The spy had set up a drop for the extortion money.
It was flat out extortion when Fleischli put the bookstore owner down.
|Noun: blackmailer, blackmailers||Adjective: extortionate
Noun: extortioner, extortionist, nonextortion
Verb: extort, extorts, extorted, extorting
|History of the Word:|
|First known use: 1552
I like Maeve Maddox’s explanation better than Apple Dictionary’s, and I’ve blended the two:
Mid-16th century denoting protection money demanded by clan chieftains from Scottish farmers in exchange for leaving them alone.
|First known use: 14th century
Middle English from the late Latin extortio(n-), which is from the Latin extorquere meaning wrest.
C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves?
Pinterest Photo Credits:
Roman Zacharij has released his artwork, Oppression and Extortion, 2008, into the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons. It depicts the “oppression and extortion of Polish state bureaucrats in the western Ukrainian countryside of the Berezhany district during Polish rule in Berezhany lands (1919-1939). The work is located in the Berezhany City Museum in Berezhany, Ternopil oblast in the western Ukraine.”