Noun. Late 19th century.
Extortion of money by blackmail.
Blackmail is an ugly word, and not one that any self-respecting gentleman criminal would wish to sully himself with. Therefore, it's appropriate that English offers us an alternative in chantage, which, with its smooth syllables and dapper French pronunciation, is altogether more pleasing to the ear, thus making the otherwise invidious business of extortion a little easier on everyone.
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