(redirected from blankness)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Encyclopedia.
Related to blankness: blank out

blank canvas

A person or thing that has nothing of substance or permanence within or imprinted upon him, her, or it, such that it can be easily filled with entirely new things. Refers to a painter's canvas that has yet to be painted on. Children's minds are blank canvasses, so we have to be sure to provide them with enriching education and opportunities so as to give them the best possible future. I love moving into a new house and having a blank canvas to make my own! These freshmen are all blank canvasses—we can get them to believe anything we tell them!
See also: blank, canvas

blank look on (one's) face

A facial expression with no emotional articulation, usually implying befuddlement, incomprehension, or being overwhelmed by something. I tried to explain to him why what he did was wrong, but he just sat there staring at me with that blank look on his face. Claire carried a blank look on her face for weeks after the traumatic accident.
See also: blank, face, look, on

that's (someone or something) for you

That trait, characteristic, behavior, etc., is so typical of the way someone or something usually acts, behaves, or operates. Insider trading and horribly unscrupulous backdoor deals? Yep, that's Wall Street for you. A: "I can't believe he cheated on her with several different women while they were together." B: "What a pig. That's men for you."

fill in the blank

1. To provide information or details, usually by actually writing something in a blank space on a test, form, etc. Fill in the blank with what you think is the correct answer.
2. To figure something out; to determine an answer to something that was previously unknown. My parents may not know who dented the car now, but they'll fill in the blank eventually.
See also: blank, fill

a blank cheque

1. Literally, a cheque presented to someone with the amount left blank, so that it can be written out for the desired total. Mom, can you give me a blank cheque so I can fill it out when I buy my school supplies?
2. By extension, the freedom or permission to spend as much money or use as much resources as needed in pursuit of a desire or goal. The company was having a difficult time retaining good employees, so the manager was given a blank cheque to increase salaries and restructure his department. After the fifth murder, the city's police officers were given a blanque cheque to use whatever resources they needed in order to find the serial killer before he struck again.
See also: blank, cheque

a blank check

1. Literally, a check presented to someone with the amount left blank, so that it can be written out for the desired total. Mom, can you give me a blank check so I can fill it out when I buy my school supplies?
2. By extension, the freedom or permission to spend as much money or use as much resources as needed in pursuit of a desire or goal. The company was having a difficult time retaining good employees so the manager was given a blank check to increase salaries and restructure his department. After the fifth murder, the city's police officers were given a blanque check to use whatever resources they needed in order to find the serial killer before he struck again.
See also: blank, check

at point-blank range

In close proximity to a person or thing. Typically used to describe a nearby target in shooting. Be careful when firing at point-blank range!
See also: range

blank out

1. To unexpectedly forget something. Can you remind me of your name? I'm so sorry, but I'm completely blanking out right now!
2. To avoid thinking about or remembering something, often because it is stressful or traumatic. Many trauma victims try to blank out the horrific things that have happened to them.
3. To erase or conceal something (such as text or an image) that one does not want widely disseminated. You should blank out the last paragraph before submitting this paper to your professor. Be sure to black out all the other names on this list before you put it in the employee's file.
See also: blank, out

blank check

freedom or permission to act as one wishes or thinks necessary. He's been given a blank check with regard to reorganizing the workforce. The new manager has been given no detailed instructions about how to train the staff. He just has a blank check.
See also: blank, check

blank something out

1. Lit. to erase something, as on a computer screen. Who blanked out the information that was on my screen? Please blank your password out as soon as you type it.
2. Fig. to forget something, perhaps on purpose; to blot something out of memory. I'm sorry, I just blanked your question out. I blanked out your question. What did you say?
See also: blank, out

draw a blank

1. . Fig. to get no response; to find nothing. I asked him about Tom's financial problems, and I just drew a blank. We looked in the files for an hour, but we drew a blank.
2. Fig. to fail to remember something. I tried to remember her telephone number, but I could only draw a blank. It was a very hard test with just one question to answer, and I drew a blank.
See also: blank, draw

fill in

[for an indentation, hole, etc.] to become full. The scar filled in after a few months. Will this hole in the ground fill in by itself, or should I put some dirt in?
See also: fill

fill in (for someone or something)

Fig. to substitute for someone or something; to take the place of someone or something. I will have to fill in for Wally until he gets back. I don't mind filling in.
See also: fill

Fill in the blanks.

You can figure out the rest.; You can draw a conclusion from that. (Fixed order. See also fill something in.) Mary. What happened at Fred's house last night? Bill: There was a big fight, then the neighbors called the police. Mary: Then what happened? Bill: Fill in the blanks. What do you think? John: They had been lost for two days, then the wolves came, and the rest is history. Jane: Yes, I think I can fill in the blanks.
See also: blank, fill

fill someone in (on someone or something)

to tell someone the details about someone or something. Please fill me in on what happened last night. Please fill in the committee on the details.
See also: fill

fill something in

1. to add material to an indentation, hole, etc., to make it full. You had better fill the crack in with something before you paint the wall. You should fill in the cracks first.
2. Fig. to write in the blank spaces on a paper; to write on a form. (See also Fill in the blanks) Please fill this form in. I will fill in the form for you.
See also: fill

give someone a blank check

 and give a blank check to someone 
1. Lit. to give someone a signed check that lacks only the amount or payment which can be filled in by anyone. Sally sent a blank check to school with Billy to pay for his books.
2. Fig. to give someone freedom or permission to act as one wishes or thinks necessary. He's been given a blank check with regard to reorganizing the workforce. The manager has been given no instructions about how to train the staff. The owner just gave him a blank check. Jean gave the decorator a blank check and said she wanted the whole house done.
See also: blank, check, give

give someone a blank look

 and give someone a blank stare
to look back at someone with a neutral look on one's face. After I told her to stop smoking, she just gave me a blank look and kept puffing.
See also: blank, give, look

one's mind went blank

Fig. someone's mind has experienced total forgetfulness. He knew all his lines in rehearsal, but his mind went blank when he went before an audience.
See also: blank, mind

draw a blank

1. to forget something When Phil asked Lee which airline they were flying on, Lee drew a blank.
2. to be unable to get information Hoover asked the investigators to find out about Byrne, but they drew a blank.
See also: blank, draw

go blank

also blank out
1. to forget He let his mind go blank and kept on walking, thinking about nothing at all.
2. to become unconscious He remembers trying to get up, and then he went blank until he woke up the next morning with a roaring headache.
Usage notes: sometimes used in the form everything went blank (someone became unconscious): I heard a noise behind me, and then everything went blank.
Related vocabulary: black out
3. to stop receiving a television picture There was a popping sound, and then the TV screen went blank.
See also: blank

fill in (for somebody)

to do someone else's job temporarily He discovered his love of acting when he filled in for a sick friend in a college play.
See also: fill

fill somebody in

also fill in somebody
to give someone information that they want or need We filled her in on all the latest family news. I've asked Andy to fill in the marketing team about plans for the fall.
See also: fill

fill in something

also fill something in
1. to give written answers to questions on a computer or on paper Fill in the entire form and then click “submit.” If you have left out a date, first name, or other information, fill it in.
2. to complete a plan or idea That's the basic idea, but we still have a lot of details to fill in.
See also: fill

your mind goes blank

you cannot think of anything to say They asked me about my experience and my mind just went blank.
See also: blank, goes, mind

a blank cheque

as much money to spend as is wanted or needed (not used with the ) We are not giving the redevelopment project a blank cheque. The organizers will be working within a strictly limited budget.
See also: blank, cheque

draw a blank

to be unable to get information, think of something, or achieve something Ask them about the car's performance and you'll draw a blank. We've asked 2000 schools to join the campaign, but so far we've drawn a blank. (= none of them agreed)
See also: blank, draw

fire/shoot blanks

if a man is firing blanks, there is no sperm (= the cells which combine with the female's egg to start life) in his semen (= the liquid produced in the male sexual organs) (usually in continuous tenses) They had a series of fertility tests done and found out that basically Tony was firing blanks.
See also: blank, fire

your mind goes blank

if you are asked a question and your mind goes blank, you cannot think of anything to say I was so nervous during the interview that when I was asked about my experience, my mind went blank.
See at the back of mind, eye candy, blow mind, bring to mind, cast mind back, cross mind, lose mind, prey on mind, read mind, slip mind, speak mind, sticks in the/ mind, mind p's and q's, have a memory like a sieve, Mind step
See also: blank, goes, mind

point blank

1. if you refuse point blank, you refuse completely and will not change your decision He locked himself in the bathroom and refused point blank to come out.
2. if you ask or tell someone point blank about something that could upset or embarrass them, you ask or tell them directly You'll have to ask him point blank whether he took the money or not.
See also: blank, point

at point-blank range

if someone is shot at point-blank range, they are shot from a very short distance away The killers walked into the bar and shot him at point-blank range.
See also: range

blank check

Unrestricted authority, a free hand, as in I'll support most of the chairman's agenda, but I'm not ready to give him a blank check for the company's future . Literally this term signifies a bank check that is signed by the drawer but does not indicate the amount of money, which is filled in by the person to whom it is given. [Late 1800s]
See also: blank, check

draw a blank

Fail to find or remember something, as in He looks familiar but I've drawn a blank on his name. This expression alludes to drawing a lottery ticket with nothing on it (so one cannot win a prize). [Early 1800s]
See also: blank, draw

fill in

1. Complete something, especially by supplying more information or detail. For example, Be sure to fill in your salary history. It is also put as fill in the blanks, as in We'll rely on Mary to fill in the blanks. Yet another related usage is fill someone in, as in I couldn't attend, so will you fill me in? The first term dates from the mid-1800s; the others from the first half of the 1900s. Also see fill out.
2. Also, fill in for. Take someone's place, substitute for. For example, The understudy had to fill in at the last minute, or I can't come but my wife will fill in for me. Also see fill someone's shoes.
See also: fill

look blank

Be expressionless, appear dumbstruck or overwhelmed. For example, When I asked her how to get to the hospital, she looked blank. [c. 1700]
See also: blank, look

blank on

To forget or fail to remember something; draw a blank on something: I blanked on her name even though we had just been introduced.
See also: blank, on

blank out

1. To erase or cover something so that it cannot be seen or read: Please blank out the incorrect information on this form. I didn't want them to see my letter on the computer screen, so I blanked it out. Some of the words in the document had been blanked out to protect people's privacy.
2. To suddenly forget what one was about to say: My neighbor blanks out on my name every time we meet. I was about to say something important, but I blanked out!
3. To deliberately forget or stop thinking about something, especially something unpleasant: I've blanked out most of those sad memories. The suffering patient tried to blank out the pain.
See also: blank, out

fill in

1. To provide someone with essential or newly acquired information: I didn't receive the information in the mail—could you fill me in? Please fill in the new secretary about our rules.
2. To provide something, especially required information, in written form or on a document: The applicant filled the answers in on the registration form. The students filled in the test forms.
3. To cover completely the bounded surface of something: Fill in all the rectangles on the page with blue ink. The artist filled all the stencils in with pastels.
4. To act as a substitute; stand in: When I was sick, my colleague filled in. The understudy filled in for the sick actor last night.
See also: fill

draw a blank

To fail to find or remember something.
See also: blank, draw
References in periodicals archive ?
There is, first of all--to list the cliches in order--the textbook statement regarding period and chronology: the North German tribes who invaded post-Roman Britain (in numbers we still have not established for certain) fall into the historiographical murk, or relative blankness, of the "Dark Ages," and so our data on society and economy (and slavery's position) are not likely to be plentiful or even apparent.
Hung in demountable panels, its fine lines and texture stand in contrast to the large voids and the blankness of the windows.
Despite the blankness of the surface ice, though, the geophysicist will have little trouble staying awake as her instruments plumb the depths of the alien lake below.
At the same time, the uneven finishes of many of the statues and reliefs, and the disconcerting blankness of the faces of figures such as St.
For more than two decades, the chaos, the degradation and the moral blankness of the West household was on display for everyone to see, says Gordon Burn, author of Happy Like Murderers, a new book on the Wests.
Submitting Chopin's widely anthologized story "Desiree's Baby" to a semiotic and political reading, Peel argues that Desiree's blankness in the story threatens to disrupt semiotic order but nonetheless fails to dislodge any hierarchy of political power: Parker concentrates on the motif of passing and quadroon mistresses in New Orleans in Sidonie de la Houssaye's 1890s novel Les Quarteronnes de la Nouvelle-Orleans and argues that de la Houssaye "both reproduces and subverts the inherited story: the Other may have neither legal nor political power but is still threatening (like the repressed, which can return in unforeseeable ways) as siren and witch.
Or just about anyplace where power inconsistencies--from brownouts to earthquakes to outages--can make a monitor bleep into blankness.
He kept his face impassive in his despair, and out of this blankness one felt the rage of Blue Guerilla as a hard, unending pain.
Having grown up without a father, for example, he had his own "take" on the ravages of the Vietnam War: "'Glory' is an inadequate substitute, a pale abstraction, compared to the enduring, baffling blankness of a missing parent.
But the last time I asked if he would cooperate with the same examiner next time, he rolled up his eyes, stuck his fingers in his mouth, and looked past my ear, pretending blankness.
Not since the day cancer struck like a missile and left this gregarious character with the oddest sensation: blankness.
Warhol's trademark blankness, I think, belies a deeply political artist.
Morris railed against capitalism and yet he established a ship in central London bearing his family name, and Warhol's trademark blankness, I think, belies a deeply political artist.
Reed's music had that room: a lot of repetition, empty spaces, terseness, intuition, blankness, bluntness, talking as singing.