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

intransitive verb

: to grow dark : become obscured
the skies were darkening
: to become gloomy
his mood darkened

transitive verb

: to make dark
: to make less clear : obscure
the financial crisis darkened the future of the company
: taint, tarnish
darkened his reputation
: to cast a gloom over
: to make of darker color
darkener 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 No one is in a hurry, and the sunset only becomes more dramatic as the sky darkens. Angela Caraway-Carlton, Miami Herald, 22 Feb. 2024 Photos showed a similar level of banding and darkening, which translated to losing shadow detail. PCMAG, 27 Jan. 2024 Some Fed officials at that December meeting expressed reservations about continuing to raise rates as the global economic mood seemed to be darkening while U.S. inflation remained muted. Bob Fernandez, WSJ, 12 Jan. 2024 But the inflation outlook will darken if the Israel-Hamas war spreads to other countries in the region, threatening global energy supply, or if oil prices — which have barely budged since the Houthis ramped up their attacks — start to rise. Anna Cooban, CNN, 8 Feb. 2024 On a cold overcast night at the edge of the California Delta, members of the Mount Diablo Astronomical Society tilted their faces toward the darkening sky, willing the growing cloud banks to clear. Joan Morris, The Mercury News, 23 Jan. 2024 His latest, and most spellbinding for me, came in September, when at the end of his show the set darkened and a trio of models wearing dresses with glowing terrarium skirts emerged. Nicole Phelps, Vogue, 11 Dec. 2023 The international scene has darkened dramatically in recent years. Hal Brands, Foreign Affairs, 26 Jan. 2024 Recalling bygone personal ambitions, Asteroid City matched social identity to post–World War II national myths since darkened in No Country for Old Men. Armond White, National Review, 19 Jan. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'darken.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near darken

Cite this Entry

“Darken.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/darken. Accessed 2 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


dark·​en ˈdär-kən How to pronounce darken (audio)
darkened; darkening ˈdärk-(ə-)niŋ How to pronounce darken (audio)
: to make or grow dark or darker
the sky darkened
: to make or become gloomy or forbidding
her face darkened in anger
darkener noun

More from Merriam-Webster on darken

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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