v. To cause to disappear; to prevent someone or something from communicating or being communicated. Also: black hole, blackhole.

Example Citation:
However, industry analysts have pointed out that economic factors constitute the more compelling reasons that delay 3G. In the midst of the 3G auction mania raging at the turn of the millennium, many operators in forerunning countries found themselves black-holed in the mega-buck bidding.
—Jeff Ooi, "Going, going, gone!," Malaysian Business, May 1, 2002

Earliest Citation:
A few weeks back, the Associated Press reported that, contrary to all the hullabaloo over the burning of black churches, there was no evidence of any spate of arson fires that were racially motivated. How many newspapers picked up this story? Fewer than 10, according to the New York Post's media critic. The Orange County Register, by the way, was one of the papers that ran the AP piece.

The Los Angeles Times wasn't.

You guessed it: It was from talk radio — Ray Briem's afternoon program on KIEV — that I first learned of this black-holing of the AP article that debunked the epidemic of church burnings.
—Harold Johnson, "Dream team: Putnam, Elder, Prager," The Orange County Register, July 29, 1996

A black hole is a celestial object with a gravitational pull so intense that neither matter nor energy — including light — can escape it. The term was invented by the American physicist John Wheeler in 1968 (some sources say 1967). Within a few years, the world's metaphorists had latched on to the phrase and were wielding it willy-nilly to describe everything from large budget deficits to gaping legal loopholes.

Our focus today is on black hole's relatively new career as a verb. In technology circles, to black-hole means to cut off data going to and coming from an address, particularly an address used by a spammer. This sense has been around since 1997. Here's a typical citation:

Being "black holed" is a growing problem for ISPs unfortunate enough to host aggressive spammers, Geller said. In such cases, ISPs block all e-mail bearing the ISP name after the @ sign shared by a notorious spammer, blocking the vast majority of legitimate e-mails from that ISP.
—Patrick Ross, "Independent ISPs Wary of Financial, Legal Burdens of Privacy," Washington Internet Daily, October 12, 2001

But the black-hole verb is also being used in more general senses, as the example and earliest citations show. Thanks to subscriber Erin McKean for inspiring me to post this term.

Related Word: