\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

These are darker, deeper, and more extracted than the California wines, mostly owing to a cooler climate and a longer growing season. Patrick Comiskey, latimes.com, "Why you should be drinking Gamay Noir this summer," 11 July 2018 As his sometimes rocky career path demonstrates, Kavanaugh also has years of experience with Washington’s darker, partisan side, navigating conspiracy theories and congressional roadblocks. Ann E. Marimow, The Seattle Times, "From Clinton to Trump: How Kavanaugh navigated through some of Washington’s biggest scandals," 9 July 2018 But Future’s introspection, no matter how dark and brooding, is not reserved for male artists—or listeners. Hannah Giorgis, The Atlantic, "The Cathartic Symphony of Future’s Beast Mode 2," 6 July 2018 Alex Metcalfe's dark, dreary photography, while admittedly a trial to endure, well befits the gloomy setting. Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter, "'The Lighthouse': Film Review," 4 July 2018 On the other side is a soft cream in a choice of either bronze, nude, or golden (particularly pretty on darker skin). Kathleen Hou, The Cut, "This Is the Best Highlighter of All Time," 2 July 2018 The chocolate that the Mesoamericans ate was dark, grainy and tended to be somewhat bitter. Jeffrey Miller, Smithsonian, "Let Us Tell You S’more About America’s Favorite Campfire Treat," 29 June 2018 Bernard Malamud's 1952 novel, on which the film is based, is much darker (especially the end), but Barry Levinson went for inspiration, and found it. 4. Bill Goodykoontz, azcentral, "The 10 best baseball movies ever (No, not 'Field of Dreams')," 22 June 2018 Beneath its artificial shine lies dark, primeval swampland; a gulf divides the seen from the unseen. The Economist, "Lauren Groff’s short stories pulse with hidden malevolence," 21 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Now, Beim is on a quest to bring other women out of the dark by bringing big data to the womb. Megan Molteni, WIRED, "This Company Wants Your Fertility Data," 13 July 2018 The transition makes me sad — the end of the light, the beginning of the dark. Sam Anderson, New York Times, "New Sentences: From Helen DeWitt’s ‘Some Trick’," 27 June 2018 When a Monster Calls, the often repellent, always terrifying creature of the dark is where Bayona finds his answers. Nicole Sperling, HWD, "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom Director J.A. Bayona Has More Than Dinosaurs on His Mind," 20 June 2018 After spending years celebrating Pride abroad in Tokyo, New York, and London, Casil returned to Guam and made it her mission to bring the island’s Pride celebrations out of the dark. Shawn Waldron, National Geographic, "How These Remote Locations Celebrate LGBTQ Pride," 8 June 2018 Bad dreams seem to peak during the preschool years, when fear of the dark is common. Rachel Spector, Msw, miamiherald, "Here's how to chase away your child's scary dreams | Miami Herald," 25 May 2018 Fear of the dark, of the unknown, even of the arrival of a new sibling all can be addressed through literature. Donna Vickroy, Daily Southtown, "In a world filled with anxiety, picture books can help parents address children's fears," 2 Apr. 2018 But … the part of me that had just learned about strangers in school, the part of me that was scared of the dark … knew that there was something really wrong here. CBS News, "Afraid of the Dark: Texas woman seeks justice in childhood kidnapping, attack," 4 Mar. 2018 Zamora shouted at one point to the few dozen people huddled tightly in the dark on his living room floor. Joshua Partlow, chicagotribune.com, "Inside the church where Nicaraguan paramilitaries laid siege on university students," 14 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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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).


obstinately defiant of authority

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