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 When in doubt, a dash of neon can brighten any dreary wintery-mix-kind-of-day. Roxanne Adamiyatt, Town & Country, 5 Jan. 2023 Accessories in vivid hues brighten up a midcentury-modern bedroom. Kate Mcgregor, ELLE Decor, 21 Dec. 2022 Add a little vodka, a small squeeze of lemon to brighten it up and please do not forget the bubbles. Aly Walansky, Forbes, 19 Dec. 2022 As the days grow impossibly short and deeply dark, the holiday spirit can brighten our spirits and soothe our souls. Globe Columnist,, 17 Dec. 2022 The days are getting darker and colder, so brighten them up with some quality hot cocoa mix. Mark Stock, Men's Health, 14 Dec. 2022 To brighten it up, Parkinson used the same mirrored tile from Ann Sacks that’s above the sink in the kitchen, Caesarstone for the backsplash, and a Grothouse walnut countertop. Carisha Swanson, House Beautiful, 15 Nov. 2022 Try wiring together your favorite materials to make a garland for the fireplace and line it with fairy lights to brighten it up. Kaitlyn Keegan, Hartford Courant, 10 Nov. 2022 The enzymatic dog toothpaste is meant to remove tartar and plaque from your dog's teeth, whiten and brighten them, improve gum health, and freshen his breath. Amber Smith, Discover Magazine, 19 Oct. 2022 See More

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.

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 26 Jan. 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

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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

Challenging Words You Should Know

  • hedgehog reading a book
  • Often used to describe “the march of time,” what does inexorable mean?
Spell It

Hear a word and type it out. How many can you get right?

Solve today's spelling word game by finding as many words as you can with using just 7 letters. Longer words score more points.

Can you make 12 words with 7 letters?