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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Early accounts say the bird used to be so plenteous that flocks would darken the sky. Story Hinckley, The Christian Science Monitor, "Group effort rules the roost in Wyoming, then Washington intervenes," 10 July 2018 At the end of night performances, the stage lights are darkened for just a moment and, at that moment, everyone in the audience shifts their gaze to the stars before the lights come back on for the curtain call. Carla Minsky, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Travel is Good for the Soul," 10 June 2018 The heat of the nuclear explosion bleaches or darkens the background surface, except for the spot blocked by the person, leaving a corresponding outline. Daily Intelligencer, "This Is What a Nuclear Bomb Looks Like," 12 June 2018 While the impact would have darkened the sky, bringing permanent winter for a number of years, the volcanoes' injection of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere would have produced a rapid swing in the warming direction when the sky cleared. Scott K. Johnson, Ars Technica, "Dinosaur-killing impact + volcanoes kept the Earth hot for 100,000 years," 26 May 2018 In the series, Muholi darkens her skin tone, celebrating her blackness and offering a contrast to the way black women are often depicted in the wider media space. National Geographic, "These Famous Women Artists Changed the World With Their Self-Portraits," 24 May 2018 Summer in the Elks is mercurial: Within minutes, skies darken to the color of lead, bringing sheets of rain and flashes of lightning to the high peaks. The Atlantic, "Is Social Media Luring Hikers Into 'Death Gully'?," 17 May 2018 Buttermilk and white flour darken to nutty golden brown. Ali Bouzari, San Francisco Chronicle, "Housemade: The science behind the skillets at Miss Ollie’s in Oakland," 16 May 2018 Sandy rocks darken into a deep red all the way out to the horizon, where a dark strip of mountains jut skyward. Leah Sottile, Longreads, "Bundyville Chapter One: A War in the Desert," 15 May 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.

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First Known Use of darken

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

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Phrases Related to darken

darken someone's door/doors

Statistics for darken

Last Updated

1 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for darken

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

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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.

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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).


alleviating pain or harshness

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