\ ˈdärk \

Definition of dark 

(Entry 1 of 3)

1a : devoid or partially devoid of light : not receiving, reflecting, transmitting, or radiating light a dark room

b : transmitting only a portion of light dark glasses

2a : wholly or partially black dark clothing

b of a color : of low or very low lightness dark blue

c : being less light in color than other substances of the same kind dark rum

3a : arising from or showing evil traits or desires : evil the dark powers that lead to war

b : dismal, gloomy had a dark view of the future

c : lacking knowledge or culture : unenlightened a dark period in history

d : relating to grim or depressing circumstances dark humor

4a : not clear to the understanding

b : not known or explored because of remoteness the darkest reaches of the continent

5 : not fair in complexion : swarthy dark skin

6 : secret kept his plans dark

7 : possessing depth and richness a dark voice

8 : closed to the public the theater is dark in the summer



Definition of dark (Entry 2 of 3)

1a : a place or time of little or no light : night, nightfall get home before dark

b : absence of light : darkness afraid of the dark

2a : a color of low or very low lightness : a dark or deep color usually plural a painter who uses a lot of darks

b darks plural : clothing that is dark colored separated the darks and the lights before starting the laundry

in the dark

1 : in secrecy most of his dealings were done in the dark

2 : in ignorance kept the public in the dark about the agreement

go dark

1 : to become dark The room suddenly went dark.

2a : to stop operating or functioning : to shut down Most Salt Lake City restaurants go dark on Sundays … —Kurt Repanshek Andy Beal was one of 220 million subscribers to Skype … who saw the service go dark on Aug. 16. —Stephen Baker In the end, the heart stops, the cells die, the neurons go dark —Joshua Ferris

b communications : to stop broadcasting or transmitting : to go off-line The roosters were just beginning to crow in that lost hour before dawn when Lt. Col. Steve Russell of the Army's 4th Infantry Division ordered his men to "go dark" and roll their Humvees up to the edge of a lone farmhouse here. —William Booth



Definition of dark (Entry 3 of 3)

intransitive verb

obsolete : to grow dark (see dark entry 1)

transitive verb

: to make dark

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Other words from dark


darkish \ˈdär-kish \ adjective
darkly adverb
darkness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for dark


obscure, dark, vague, enigmatic, cryptic, ambiguous, equivocal mean not clearly understandable. obscure implies a hiding or veiling of meaning through some inadequacy of expression or withholding of full knowledge. obscure poems dark implies an imperfect or clouded revelation often with ominous or sinister suggestion. muttered dark hints of revenge vague implies a lack of clear formulation due to inadequate conception or consideration. a vague sense of obligation enigmatic stresses a puzzling, mystifying quality. enigmatic occult writings cryptic implies a purposely concealed meaning. cryptic hints of hidden treasure ambiguous applies to language capable of more than one interpretation. an ambiguous directive equivocal applies to language left open to differing interpretations with the intention of deceiving or evading. moral precepts with equivocal phrasing

Examples of dark in a Sentence


She sat in the dark room alone. Soon it will be dark enough to see the stars. It was a dark and stormy night. Dark clouds of smoke were coming from the windows. She's wearing a dark suit to the interview. a man wearing dark clothing You've got dark circles under your eyes this morning. dark spots on the skin


He's 12 years old and still afraid of the dark. The burglars hid in the dark between the two buildings. He bought the kids special rings that glow in the dark. We'd better get home before dark. They waited until after dark to begin their escape. He uses lots of darks in his decorating. Wash the lights and the darks separately.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Expert divers guided each boy for several hours, navigating more than two miles of the narrow, twisting, dark and dangerous labyrinth. John Bacon, ajc, "WATCH: Video shows rescued Thai soccer players flashing victory sign from hospital beds," 12 July 2018 Sometime after four in a dark and cold Italian morning, a young woman accompanied a band of men to a duck shoot. Dana Snitzky, Longreads, "Hemingway’s Last Girl," 12 July 2018 The moon will still be mostly dark (and, thus, invisible), so a night in will actually be in line with Friday's lunar energy. refinery29.com, "Friday The 13th Will Be A Hotbed Of Astrological Activity — Should We All Just Stay Home?," 12 July 2018 The soggy rope was crusted with something tiny, dark and solid, like BBs. Tim Prudente, baltimoresun.com, "Explosion of false dark mussels revives hopes for clearer waters and concern for dogs in Anne Arundel County," 11 July 2018 But this new model is something else: a modest family home stacked atop a spiraling series of nightmarish underground structures, all dark and twisted. Katherine Fusco, The Atlantic, "Hereditary and the Monstrousness of Creative Moms," 11 July 2018 To escape, the children must dive through dark, narrow passageways sometimes no more than two-feet (0.6- meter) wide, that have challenged some of the world's leading cave divers. Tassanee Vejpongsa And Kaweewit Kaewjinda, Houston Chronicle, "4 rescued from Thai cave in risky operation; 9 remain inside," 9 July 2018 Anthony Davis has seen darker days in New Orleans: Ugly lottery trips, multiple injury issues, and the awkward firing of former coach Monty Williams. Ben Golliver, SI.com, "2018 NBA Free Agency: The Early Winners And Losers," 5 July 2018 Throughout this time, emergency care was still in its dark days. Paul Seward, STAT, "Emergency departments: the ‘chewing gum and duct tape’ holding together U.S. health care," 3 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The fur of Weddell seals appeared like beautiful patchwork, speckled with splotches of grey on dark-silver skin. Kasha Patel, Smithsonian, "How Data-Gathering Seals Help Scientists Measure the Melting Antarctic," 13 July 2018 That combination forces readers to attune themselves to the narrator’s dark, howling somnia. Walton Muyumba, latimes.com, "Detachment and dreaming in 'My Year of Rest and Relaxation' by Ottessa Moshfegh," 12 July 2018 Arriving late at night on June 24, SEALs wasted no time wading into the dark, uncharted waters; the first team of six dove in at 2 a.m., just hours after their arrival. Time, "Meet the Heroes Who Helped Keep 12 Boys Alive in a Flooded Thailand Cave," 11 July 2018 Lise Crafton and neighbor Paul Spadaro talk about an explosion of dark false mussel growing in Cattail Creek behind their homes in Severna Park on Wednesday, July 11, 2018. Tim Prudente, baltimoresun.com, "Explosion of false dark mussels revives hopes for clearer waters and concern for dogs in Anne Arundel County," 11 July 2018 A year ago, a Hatfield man was dubbed a dark web mastermind who pulled off a brazen $40 million Bitcoin heist. Aubrey Nagle, Philly.com, "ICE protester sues Philly police, young Pa. farmers shake up industry | Morning Newsletter," 11 July 2018 With the world transfixed by the plight of a boys soccer team trapped for more than a week without food inside a dark Thailand cave complex, Tesla’s Elon Musk had an idea. Christopher Carbone, Fox News, "Thai cave rescue: Elon Musk's kid-sized submarine prompts jeers, praise," 10 July 2018 Divers freed the last of 12 young soccer players and their coach from a dark, flooded cave in northern Thailand on Tuesday, capping a daring international rescue mission watched around the world. Phred Dvorak, WSJ, "All 12 Boys and Their Soccer Coach Rescued From Thai Cave," 10 July 2018 Eugenie sported a light blue dress topped with a pillbox hat, while Brooksbank opted for dark suit with a light blue tie to match his fianceé. Temi Adebowale, Town & Country, "A Definitive History of Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank's Relationship," 2 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

His background is a bit more freewheeling, but also dark: his father, a schoolteacher, is kind and supportive, while his mother, who suffered a traumatic brain injury years before, has a penchant for shedding her clothes in public. refinery29.com, "On Chesil Beach Review: Can You Have Love Without Sex?," 16 May 2018 Full Coverage Concealer, $5, available in nine shades that match light to dark skin tones, plus three color-correcting hues. Brooke Shunatona, Cosmopolitan, "The 30 Best Concealers That Will Completely Cover Your Acne," 22 Mar. 2016 Heavy Metal Flea Market isn't so literal; the event begins with metal as its starting-off point and explore everything from monster-movie culture to clothing to dark mystical stuff. John Petkovic, cleveland.com, "Now That's Class and Beachland Ballroom to host music-themed flea markets," 7 Dec. 2017 Fun and dark all at once, the song is a feel-good revenge tune with powerful elements. Tamar Herman, Billboard, "20 K-Pop Songs for Your Halloween Playlist by BTS, BIGBANG, EXO & More," 31 Oct. 2017 Living humans come packaged in a wide range of hues — from pale and freckly in Ireland to dark brown in southern India, Australia and New Guinea. Carl Zimmer, New York Times, "Genes for Skin Color Rebut Dated Notions of Race, Researchers Say," 12 Oct. 2017 At McClellan, the air tankers work from 8 a.m. to dark if conditions allow. Hudson Sangree, sacbee, "Air tankers circle nonstop between Santa Rosa and Sacramento to fight wildfires," 12 Oct. 2017 So, when a draft letter suggesting a softening of his views began circulating among members of Congress this week, Mexicans expressed a range of reactions, from welcome relief to cool, wonky reason to dark mistrust. Kirk Semple And Paulina Villegas, New York Times, "Mexico Welcomes Possible U.S. Shift on Nafta, but Mistrust of Trump Persists," 31 Mar. 2017 Heavy Metal Flea Market isn't so literal; the event begins with metal as its starting-off point and explore everything from monster-movie culture to clothing to dark mystical stuff. John Petkovic, cleveland.com, "Tater Tots & Beer Festival, Heavy Metal Flea Market hit Cleveland," 8 June 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'dark.' 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 dark


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

History and Etymology for dark


Middle English derk, from Old English deorc; akin to Old High German tarchannen to hide


see dark entry 1


see dark entry 1

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Learn More about dark

Statistics for dark

Last Updated

12 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for dark

The first known use of dark was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for dark



English Language Learners Definition of dark

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: having very little or no light

: not light in color : of a color that is closer to black than white

of a color : having more black than white : not light



English Language Learners Definition of dark (Entry 2 of 2)

the dark : a state in which no light can be seen

: a place where little or no light can be seen

: the time of day when night begins : the time when the sky becomes dark for the night


\ ˈdärk \
darker; darkest

Kids Definition of dark

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : without light or without much light a dark closet

2 : not light in color My dog has a dark coat.

3 : not bright and cheerful : gloomy Don't look on the dark side of things.

4 : arising from or characterized by evil The villain revealed his dark side.



Kids Definition of dark (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : absence of light : darkness I'm not afraid of the dark.

2 : a place or time of little or no light We got home before dark.

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Comments on dark

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


the setting in which something occurs

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