- a place in which things are lost never to be seen again
- a prison or place of confinement. Often related to "the black hole of Calcutta"
- in commerce it is used to describe an organization into which large quantities of money is poured but no profit is shown
- a sphere of influence from which things like communication are not forthcoming
- My handbag is a black hole. You can try and find the keys in there but I can’t promise anything.
- My memory is a black hole. I have to write everything important down.
- After the prisoner stabbed a guard he was sent to solitary confinement. It is called the black hole.
- The National Airline has become a massive black hole in the economy.
- The new division of the company has become a financial black hole.
- The new administration has become a black hole.
A black hole is a region in space where gravity is so strong that everything in irretrievably sucked into it, even light. It is thought to have been formed by a collapsing star. Once something has entered its gravitational field it is never able to escape. The term has been in use since 1964. However, it is unclear when people started using it in its figurative form.
The "black hole of Calcutta" refers to a prison in Bengal where 146 European prisoners were confined, in 1756. Only 23 made it out alive. The others suffocated. The story is said to be inaccurate but it has not stopped the idiom from being used.