black mark

black mark

noun
an indication of failure or censure: His chronic lateness is a black mark against him.

Origin:
1835–45

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World English Dictionary
black mark
 
n
an indication of disapproval, failure, etc

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Dictionary.com's 21st Century Lexicon
Main Entry:  black mark
Part of Speech:  n
Definition:  an indication on one's record of a grievous error, misdeed, or failure; demerit
Example:  Missing that meeting was a black mark against me.
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

black mark

An indication of censure or failure, as in If you refuse to work late, won't that be a black mark against you? This phrase alludes to a literal black mark, such as a cross, that was put next to a person's name, indicating that he or she had incurred a rebuke or penalty of some kind. [Mid-1800s]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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