black·​en ˈbla-kən How to pronounce blacken (audio)
blackened; blackening ˈblak-niŋ How to pronounce blacken (audio)

intransitive verb

: to become dark or black
the sky blackens

transitive verb

: to make black
: defame, sully
blackened her reputation
ˈblak-nər How to pronounce blacken (audio)

Examples of blacken in a Sentence

Fire had blackened the field. The sky blackened as the storm approached. Their false accusations failed to blacken my reputation. a presidency blackened by scandal
Recent Examples on the Web The midday gray blackening, then brightening, on account of a remote and veiled disk of sun and moon. John Penner, Los Angeles Times, 6 Apr. 2024 Eclipse glasses were made out of shards of clear glass blackened over a candle. Olivia B. Waxman, TIME, 5 Apr. 2024 The hood of the vehicle was largely disintegrated, the windows blown out and the doors blackened. Mikhail Klimentov, Washington Post, 3 Apr. 2024 Videos posted on Instagram and geolocated by NBC News show large-scale destruction — the hospital’s special surgery building has been totally destroyed; walls have been bombed out and blackened, windows have been shattered. NBC News, 2 Apr. 2024 The spices form a charred crust when seared in a hot skillet or on the grill, hence the name blackened. Lynda Balslev, The Mercury News, 12 Feb. 2024 At the core of the traditional mas form is satire, from its name to the act of blackening one’s skin. Melissa Noel, Essence, 13 Feb. 2024 There was a cook there who marinated catfish filets in a spicy concoction, then grilled and blackened them. Dan Rodricks, Baltimore Sun, 5 Jan. 2024 However, the restaurant is particularly renowned for its mullet, a fish best enjoyed fried or blackened with a side of cheese grits. Usa Today Network, USA TODAY, 15 Feb. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'blacken.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English blaknen, blakenen, from blak black entry 1 + -n, -en -en entry 2

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

Time Traveler
The first known use of blacken was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near blacken

Cite this Entry

“Blacken.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


black·​en ˈblak-ən How to pronounce blacken (audio)
blackened; blackening ˈblak-(ə-)niŋ How to pronounce blacken (audio)
: to make or become dark or black
: to hurt the reputation of
blackener noun

More from Merriam-Webster on blacken

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