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

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Other Words from brighten

brightener \ ˈbrīt-​nər How to pronounce brightener (audio) , ˈbrī-​tᵊn-​ər \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for brighten


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


darken, sadden

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Until the economic outlook outside the U.S. brightens, the sector won’t regain its fizz. Aaron Back, WSJ, "Coke and Pepsi Leave Different Aftertastes," 15 Feb. 2019 Recently, Khloé had an icy blonde makeover ahead of the holiday season, brightening up her usual caramel tones. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Khloé Kardashian Just Dyed Her Hair Pink for the Holidays & You'll Want to Copy Her New Look," 16 Dec. 2018 Boys volleyball players celebrate with the 4-foot-9, 108-pound senior libero, his broad smile brightening the gym and the hearts of everyone. Richard Obert, azcentral, "Arizona high school basketball, volleyball player Brandon Kwan, who stands 4-foot-9, sees no obstacles," 19 Apr. 2018 The company had to pick between the most faithful image, which would keep the shadows intact, or the most detailed one, which brightens the scene so that the camera captures the most information possible. Vlad Savov, The Verge, "Google gives the Pixel camera superhuman night vision," 14 Nov. 2018 Pumpkin is packed with skin-care super ingredients, including alpha hydroxy acids, which help boost cell turnover, along with vitamins A and C, which brighten and promote collagen production. Macaela Mackenzie, Allure, "Summer Fridays Launches the Pumpkin Overtime Face Mask Just in Time for Fall," 4 Sep. 2018 Haspel's confirmation prospects seemed to brighten after Sens. Ronald J. Hansen, azcentral, "Sen. John McCain urges Senate to reject CIA nominee Gina Haspel over torture, morality," 9 May 2018 The ground pre– and post-brightening seemed the same, so that couldn’t have been the issue, either. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, "The deserts of Titan have organic dust storms," 4 Oct. 2018 There wasn’t much in the way of fruit, nor was there a hint of acidity, which would have brightened the flavors and balanced the wine. Alan Goldfarb, The Verge, "Artificial whiskey is coming, and one company is betting you’ll drink up," 23 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.

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First Known Use of brighten

14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

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Statistics for brighten

Last Updated

14 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for brighten

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

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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 How to pronounce brighten (audio) \
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.

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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).


a flaw that causes the downfall of a hero

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