bright·​en | \ˈbrī-tᵊn \
brightened; brightening\ˈbrīt-​niŋ, ˈbrī-​tᵊn-​iŋ \

Definition of brighten 

transitive verb

1 : to make bright or brighter you brightened my day

2 : to enhance or intensify the flavor of (food) especially by adding an acidic element (such as citrus juice or vinegar) Crisp lemon slices brighten smoky bacon and rosemary-infused trout.— Melissa Roberts-Matar

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from brighten

brightener \ˈbrīt-​nər, ˈbrī-​tᵊn-​ər \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for brighten


buck up, cheer (up), lighten, look up, perk (up)


darken, sadden

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of brighten in a Sentence

He brightened the picture on the television. Flowers can brighten any room. The good news brightened her mood. The sky brightened after the storm. Business prospects brightened last month. Her face brightened in relief when she heard that he was not hurt.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Their bright green foliage with red veins and stems will brighten up your garden beds, too. The Editors, Good Housekeeping, "How to Grow Beets This Fall for a Hearty Autumn Harvest," 21 Aug. 2018 For a more lavish Thanksgiving experience, brighten up the table with pops of metallic. Chanel Vargas, Town & Country, "16 Stylish Thanksgiving Table Decorating Ideas," 6 Aug. 2018 His smiles and laughter would brighten up the world. Hartford Courant,, "Gaetano Pulvirenti," 26 May 2018 These lighter tones will only brighten up your space. Don’t be afraid to mix wood stain colors to add warmth and character. John Inc., Houston Chronicle, "GHBA Remodelers Council: The Top 6 unique kitchen design trends of 2018," 13 May 2018 Celery and parsley brighten the delicate, earthy flavor of the peas, but other herbs can be used instead, such as rosemary or marjoram. Emily Horton, sacbee, "Legumes, vegetables enrich these simple, one-pot pasta dishes | The Sacramento Bee," 17 Apr. 2018 His attitude would brighten for weeks at a time, then descend again into paranoia and anger. Carol Marbin Miller And Kyra Gurney, miamiherald, "Parkland shooter dreamed of killing, covering himself in blood, he told therapist | Miami Herald," 9 Mar. 2018 The mirrored dressers reflect light coming in from the window and brighten the room. Samantha Netkin, House Beautiful, "These 7 Tricks Made My Tiny Apartment Feel 10 Times Bigger," 6 Sep. 2018 Often, dorms can appear dim and dingy, but the wide window between the girls’ beds and the abundant selection cheerful bedding really brightens the room. Katelyn Chef, Teen Vogue, "Mercyhurst University Dorm Decor," 24 Aug. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'brighten.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of brighten

14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about brighten

Statistics for brighten

Last Updated

5 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for brighten

The first known use of brighten was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for brighten



English Language Learners Definition of brighten

: to add more light to (something)

: to make (something) more colorful or cheerful

: to become brighter or more cheerful


bright·​en | \ˈbrī-tᵊn \
brightened; brightening

Kids Definition of brighten

1 : to add more light to Candlelight brightened the room.

2 : to make or become cheerful You brightened my day.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on brighten

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with brighten

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for brighten

Spanish Central: Translation of brighten

Nglish: Translation of brighten for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of brighten for Arabic Speakers

Comments on brighten

What made you want to look up brighten? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


amusing and light sparring with words

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Late Autumn 2018 Words of the Day Quiz

  • frosted-autumn-leaves
  • Which is a synonym of yahoo?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!