dark·​en | \ ˈdär-kən How to pronounce darken (audio) \
darkened; darkening\ ˈdär-​kə-​niŋ How to pronounce darkening (audio) \

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 \ ˈdär-​kə-​nər How to pronounce darkener (audio) \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for darken



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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 One small cloud that darkens your day doesn't mean the sun hasn't risen. Magi Helena, oregonlive, "Horoscope for Dec. 27, 2019: Virgo, time to apologize; Scorpio, accept what comes your way," 27 Dec. 2019 However, a recent Bloomberg report said the US could delist Chinese stocks, which has darkened the prospects for a trade truce in the near future. Jane Li, Quartz, "In its seven decades, Communist China lived through famine, class struggle, and an astonishing economic rise," 30 Sep. 2019 Arthur Jussen, handling the piano solo that runs through the piece, played with jaunty flair that darkened to vehemence. BostonGlobe.com, "BSO and Andris Nelsons open the Symphony Hall season with a sweet, eclectic program - The Boston Globe," 21 Sep. 2019 Hailstones, smartphones and social media worked together on Tuesday to provide a vivid depiction of powerful storms that darkened Washington’s skies, deluged its streets and toppled many trees. Martin Weil, Washington Post, "Evening deluge pelts the District with hail," 20 Aug. 2019 Researchers hope the long, close encounter with the ice will also help them understand small-scale processes that may have an outsize impact, such as the growth of melt pools that darken the ice and absorb heat, hastening the melt. Eli Kintisch, Science | AAAS, "Arctic researchers will lock this ship in ice for a year to study the changing polar region," 20 Aug. 2019 In the meantime, the country’s financial situation has darkened. Jason Horowitz, New York Times, "Italy’s Government Collapses, Turning Chaos Into Crisis," 20 Aug. 2019 But there is one area where the church needs to change faster, as was highlighted by a trial that darkened the otherwise cheerful summer activities in Rochester. Rochester, The Economist, "English cathedrals attract the devout, the dotty and darker forces," 16 Aug. 2019 Their goal is a window that can darken at the flip of a switch to filter out the worst of the glare, while letting just the right amount of sunlight through for comfort. Scientific American, "Windows: No Longer Just for Letting In the Light," 9 Dec. 2019

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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Time Traveler for darken

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for darken

Last Updated

6 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Darken.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/darken?pronunciation&lang=en_us&dir=d&file=darken01. Accessed 19 January 2020.

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More Definitions for darken


How to pronounce darken (audio)

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 How to pronounce darken (audio) \
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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More from Merriam-Webster on darken

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for darken

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with darken

Spanish Central: Translation of darken

Nglish: Translation of darken for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of darken for Arabic Speakers

Comments on darken

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to insert between existing elements

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