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black +‎ leg


blackleg (countable and uncountable, plural blacklegs)

  1. (uncountable) A fatal cattle disease caused by the soil-borne bacteria Clostridium chauvoei; symptomatic anthrax
  2. (countable) A person who takes the place of striking workers; a scab.
    • 1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 22, in The Mirror and the Lamp:
      In the autumn there was a row at some cement works about the unskilled labour men. A union had just been started for them and all but a few joined. One of these blacklegs was laid for by a picket and knocked out of time.
  3. (countable) A person who cheats in a game, a cheater.
    • 1908, W[illiam] B[lair] M[orton] Ferguson, chapter II, in Zollenstein, New York, N.Y.: D. Appleton & Company, OCLC 731476803:
      I had never defrauded a man of a farthing, nor called him knave behind his back. But now the last rag that covered my nakedness had been torn from me. I was branded a blackleg, card-sharper, and murderer.
  4. (colloquial) A notorious gambler.


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blackleg (third-person singular simple present blacklegs, present participle blacklegging, simple past and past participle blacklegged)

  1. To continue working whilst fellow workers strike.
    • 1939, Philip George Chadwick, The Death Guard, page 154:
      Why was I there, munitioning, blacklegging, slaving as though my bread depended on it?