dark·​en | \ˈdär-kən \
darkened; darkening\ ˈdär-​kə-​niŋ \

Definition of darken 

intransitive verb

1 : to grow dark : become obscured the skies were darkening

2 : to become gloomy his mood darkened

transitive verb

1 : to make dark

2 : to make less clear : obscure the financial crisis darkened the future of the company

3 : taint, tarnish darkened his reputation

4 : to cast a gloom over

5 : to make of darker color

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from darken

darkener \ -​kə-​nər \ noun

Examples of darken in a Sentence

The sky darkened and it started to rain. Her face darkens to a deep red when she gets angry. The wood will darken as it ages. The bad news darkened his mood. The last days of her life were darkened by illness. His mood darkened after he heard the bad news.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

In Melbourne, Australia, 4% of the sun’s diameter will be covered, which means only a sliver of sun will be darkened by the eclipse. Gabby Raymond, Time, "A Partial Solar Eclipse Is Coming on Friday the 13th. That Hasn't Happened in 40 Years," 10 July 2018 Cook tofu and beans, tossing occasionally, until beans look slightly dried out and their skins are darkened, 10–12 minutes. Chris Morocco, Bon Appetit, "Easiest-Ever Grilled Veggie Burgers," 25 June 2018 The assaults typically involve alcohol, a passenger who is asleep, or someone who is sitting in a middle or window seat when the cabin lights are darkened. Lynh Bui, Washington Post, "Sexual assaults on airplanes are increasing, FBI warns summer travelers," 20 June 2018 The shift was made graphic in one telling moment in 1994, when Time magazine editors placed a mug shot of Simpson on their cover that had been deliberately darkened. John Blake, CNN, "The blurring of racial lines won't save America. Why 'racial fluidity' is a con," 11 June 2018 He was not allowed in, and the windows in the massive building holding the children are darkened. Andrew Sullivan, Daily Intelligencer, "Another Glimpse of State Terror in Trump’s America," 8 June 2018 The housing picture was also darkened last November when the Missouri Housing Development Commission voted not to allocate $140 million to the Missouri Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program, an important source of incentive for developers. Bill Turque, kansascity, "KC Council defines affordable housing rents (and it's not $2K a month) | The Kansas City Star," 24 May 2018 The wood had darkened with age and the paint was flaking off. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Restorationist Botches 16th-Century Spanish Statue of Saint," 28 June 2018 People with increasing numbers of skin tags or who notice their skin darkening around the neck and in armpits or groin folds should check with their doctors. Houston Chronicle, "Vicks VapoRub for poison ivy itch," 8 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'darken.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of darken

14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about darken

Statistics for darken

Last Updated

10 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for darken

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for darken



English Language Learners Definition of darken

: to make (something) dark or to become dark or darker in color

: to make (something) less happy or to become less happy


dark·​en | \ˈdär-kən \
darkened; darkening

Kids Definition of darken

1 : to make or grow dark or darker … in three months the long Arctic night that lasted for sixty-six days would darken the top of the world.— Jean Craighead George, Julie of the Wolves

2 : to make or become gloomy Her mood darkened with the news.

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on darken

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


by force of circumstances

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Vocab Quiz

  • the-education-of-achilles-eugne-delacroix
  • Which is a synonym of discomfit?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

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