Do you know the difference between blackmail and extortion? Unless you are a mafia enforcer, the difference probably isn’t germane to your everyday life, but you might still need to know the difference so that when someone else commits one of these crimes, you will be able to sound intelligent and well-informed while discussing it with your friends and coworkers.
In this post, I will compare blackmail vs. extortion and use each in several example sentences to give you an idea how each word should appear in context. Plus, I will show you a helpful memory tool that makes choosing blackmail or extortion a little easier, at least for writing purposes.
The word extortion originated from Middle English: from late Latin extortio(n- ), from Latin extorquere ‘wrest’. The word blackmail originated in mid-16th century (denoting protection money levied by Scottish chiefs): from black + obsolete mail ‘tribute, rent’, from Old Norse mál ‘speech, agreement’.
Extortion as noun:
Blackmail as noun:
Blackmail as verb:
Extortion or blackmail:
Is it extortion or blackmail? Both of these practices are illegal, but they refer to different acts. Extortion means using illegal methods to get someone to do what you want. Blackmail is a type of extortion that involves threatening to divulge damaging information for a monetary payment. Since blackmail and information both contain the letter I, it should be easy to remember that blackmail involves damaging information.