What does the idiom "be in sb's black books" mean?

be in sb's black books is an idiom used by many writers. When idioms are used in the right place, they open the doors of effective communication and increase your descriptive power. In this way, you will be better understood. The meaning of the expression be in sb's black books is also remarkable in this respect.

Meaning of "be in sb's black books"


The idiom 'be in sb's black books' is used to describe a situation in which someone doesn't agree or approve of a person's actions, or has a feeling of disapproval towards them. It is used as a warning or threat to act or behave in a certain way otherwise there will be consequences. The phrase can be taken figuratively, or literally, to convey a sense of someone's displeasure with another person's behavior.


The phrase 'be in sb's black books' is an idiom derived from the ancient bookkeeping system. In the bookkeeping system, black books were used to keep records of bad debts, which would be written in black ink. This system gave rise to the phrase 'be in sb's black books', which means to be in a state of disfavor or out of favor with someone.


The phrase 'be in sb's black books' is often used to warn someone against doing something that could result in negative consequences. It is a phrase that is used in both informal and formal contexts. For example, a boss may say to their employee "If you don't do what I ask, you'll be in my black books". This phrase can also be used as a joke, when talking about someone's behavior or attitude. For instance, a parent might joke with their child and say "You'd better behave or you'll be in my black books".

Example Sentences

  • "If you're late for work one more time, you'll be in my black books."
  • "You'd better be nice to me, or you'll be in my black books!"
  • "My mom threatened that I'd be in her black books if I didn't clean my room."
  • "I'm already in my dad's black books for forgetting to do my chores."

The meanings of the words in the "be in sb's black books" idiom

Beyond the Literal: Figurative Language in Idioms

Idioms often use figurative language to convey a message that is not meant to be taken literally. For instance, the idiom "bite the bullet" means to endure a painful or difficult situation without complaint, while "hold your horses" means to be patient and wait. Other idioms, like "kick the bucket" or "pop your clogs," use euphemisms to talk about death.


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