. The same root produced O.E. blac "bright, shining, glittering, pale;" the connecting notions being, perhaps, "fire" (bright) and "burned" (dark). The usual O.E. word for "black" was sweart (see swart
). According to OED: "In ME. it is often doubtful whether blac, blak, blake, means 'black, dark,' or 'pale, colourless, wan, livid.' " Adjective used of dark-skinned people in O.E. The noun in this sense is first attested 1620s (blackamoor is from 1540s; see moor
). Of coffee, first attested 1796. Sense of "dark purposes, malignant" emerged 1580s (e.g. black art). To be in the black (1928) is from the accounting practice of recording credits and balances in black ink.