early 13c., "white, pale, colorless," from Old French blanc "white, shining," from Frankish *blank "white, gleaming," or some other Germanic source (compare Old Norse blakkr, Old English blanca "white horse;" Old High German blanc, blanch; German blank "shining, bright"), from Proto-Germanic *blangkaz "to shine, dazzle," extended form of PIE root *bhel-(1) "to shine, flash, burn," also "shining white."
Meaning "having empty spaces" evolved c. 1400. Sense of "void of expression" (a blank look) is from 1550s. Spanish blanco, Italian bianco are said to be from Germanic. Related: Blankly, blankness.
late 14c. as the name of a small French coin; 1550s as "white space in the center of a target," from the same source as blank (adj.). Meaning "empty space" (in a document, etc.) is from c. 1570. Meaning "losing lottery ticket" (1560s) is behind the expression draw a blank. The word has been "for decorum's sake, substituted for a word of execration" [OED] at least since 1854 (for compound words, blankety-blank), from the use of blank lines in printing to indicate where such words or the letters forming the bulk of them have been omitted. From 1896 as short for blank cartridge (itself from 1826).
1540s, "to nonplus, disconcert, shut up;" 1560s, "to frustrate," from blank (adj.) in some sense. Sports sense of "defeat (another team) without allowing a score" is from 1870 (blank (n.) as "a score of 0 in a game or contest" is from 1867). Meaning "to become blank or empty" is from 1955. Related: Blanked; blanking.
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