bright·​en ˈbrī-tᵊn How to pronounce brighten (audio)
brightened; brightening ˈbrīt-niŋ How to pronounce brighten (audio)

transitive verb

: to make bright or brighter
you brightened my day
: 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
ˈbrīt-nər How to pronounce brighten (audio)

Example Sentences

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 At Farmersville High School, Steven Nappo’s thoughts are parsed by final exams, graduation and the tragic loss of the young man who brightened the astronomy teacher’s classroom. Jamie Landers, Dallas News, 12 May 2023 This soothing retreat in the former home of an aristocrat has sculptural molding and tiled marble flooring, brightened by sky-blue walls (Farrow & Ball’s Skylight). Rachel Silva, ELLE Decor, 11 May 2023 Best Body Wash Iota Supervitamin Body Wash $23 at Credit: With options to brighten (pineapple), detoxify (algae), or soothe (aloe), these gels give new meaning to the phrase power plants. Women's Health, 9 May 2023 Best for Radiance Ole Henriksen Banana Bright Vitamin C Serum $71 at Ole Henriksen Pros Contains light-reflecting pigments Cons Mild orange scent may be off-putting to some Ole Henriksen’s Banana Bright line is an editor favorite for a mega dose of brightening vitamin C. Iman Balagam,, 6 May 2023 De spotted a star brightening by a factor of a few hundred times for a couple of weeks. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 3 May 2023 This ombré pair brightens it from end to end and draws eyes up. Kelly Allen, House Beautiful, 25 Apr. 2023 This powerful cleaner can make laundry brightening easier with just one simple step. Amber Smith, Discover Magazine, 11 Apr. 2023 Now 67, Stevenson has paid the bills and brightened the world with his fertile imagination and his steady hand for half a century. John Kelly, Washington Post, 4 Apr. 2023 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

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

Dictionary Entries Near brighten

Cite this Entry

“Brighten.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


bright·​en ˈbrīt-ᵊn How to pronounce brighten (audio)
brightened; brightening ˈbrīt-niŋ How to pronounce brighten (audio)
: to make or become bright or brighter

More from Merriam-Webster on brighten

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