What is a Little Black Book?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 14 August 2018
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The "little black book" is a term for an address book, and in the simplest manner, it can merely be a small book in which a person keeps important contact information on friends, family, and business acquaintances. The term more often refers to address books that can reveal information about people’s past boyfriends or girlfriends, as well as potential dates for the future. It’s linked to romance, dating, or sexual escapades. Further, occasionally a "black book" contains the names and numbers of prominent people who have engaged in certain illegal activities, like patronizing prostitutes or escort services. Some court cases, like that of the Hollywood Madam, Heidi Fleiss, deeply concerned people who had celebrity status and were listed in her little black book.

Essentially, the book doesn’t need to be little or black — it's just a list of names and information. The more recent personal digital assistants are probably most likely to be the little black book in the modern dating/romance sense. Additionally, they’re simply practical, easy places to store contact information. The era of actually keeping a physical address book where entries are written by hand is quickly fading, as storing information becomes the work of small or larger computers. Even a cell phone with multiple capacities can be the modern black book, whatever its intent.


With smartphones, users don’t merely have a repository for addresses, names, and numbers — they also have the capacity to email or call anyone on the list directly, simply by selecting his or her name. This certainly speeds up the process of contacting people. Further, people can use some handheld devices to access not only addresses of people but also maps to their homes.

Still, some people keep a handwritten address book if they merely prefer the old manner of keeping addresses. Often, the book is alphabetized, so the user writes addresses in each section. Some of the older style books have removable sheets of paper, resembling a small binder. Users can buy more paper should they fill up a whole alphabet section and need more room to add additional addresses.

Others keep a handwritten address book of the old style because they prefer to keep information private, which is not such an easy thing to do if someone hacks into a computer. Unlike a computer of any size, a physical little black book could be burned should the owner wish to get rid of incriminating evidence. On the other hand, when the book has been a record of romantic conquests, the owner might have no need for it again if he or she is in a committed relationship.


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Post 6

@Oceana – Some people store all their important addresses in their cell phones, too. I just write them down in the little black book of important information that I keep in my filing cabinet, along with phone numbers.

Sure, having phone numbers in your cell phone is great, because all you have to do is push the button to call someone. However, I think it is best to have all of the numbers written down in a physical location, as well. I have had bad luck with losing cell phones in the past, and I would hate for my entire client list to disappear along with my phone.

Once, I dropped my phone and ran over it. The SIM card was destroyed, so there would have been no way to recover those numbers. I was thankful that I had a real little black book to turn to at this time.

Post 5

My cell phone is my little black book. I don't think I have a single phone number written down in ink anywhere.

I know that it is dangerous to depend on a cell phone to hold all the contact information I might ever need. That is why I have memorized the most important numbers, like those of my immediate family and closest friends.

It would be terrible to be in prison or in the hospital and unable to contact anyone to let them know where I was because I didn't know their numbers by heart. My memory is my most valuable little black book.

Post 4

I never really thought about it until I read this article, but I just realized that the little notebook in which I write all my addresses is black! I guess I will always be able to remember which notebook holds the addresses now.

Post 3

I knew a guy whose PDA served as a little black book of girls he either dated or was currently dating. He made the mistake of handing it to me so that I could keep it in my purse while we shot a game of pool, and he forgot I had it.

I did look through it, because at the time, I wasn't entirely sure what it was. I saw a list of girls' names and numbers, and he went so far as to rate them.

I was appalled by this. I returned the PDA and never went out with him again.

Post 2

ShowStopper- It depends on whether you are using it truly as an address book or as more of a dating book. If you are using it as a dating potential book, you will want to write information including address, name, age, phone number and email address.

If you are using it as just an address book, you will to include typical information including name, address and phone number. Some people also write job titles or how they know the person such as co-worker, friend or family member.

Post 1

What information is typically contained in a little black book besides names and addresses?

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