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


gloom, glower, lower (also lour)


brighten, cheer (up), lighten, perk (up)

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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

By the time the young lovers make it to the chapel, the mood in the court — and between them — has darkened significantly. Elena Nicolaou, refinery29.com, "Charlotte Hope Untangles The Web Of Lies In The Spanish Princess Finale," 25 June 2019 By Andrea Sachs | The Washington Post The reports on six deaths, one high-profile shooting, an assault and a fatal car accident over the course of a year have darkened the Dominican Republic’s typically sunny skies. The Washington Post, The Mercury News, "Is it safe to travel to the Dominican Republic?," 13 June 2019 The recent reports on six deaths, one shooting, an assault and a fatal car accident have darkened the Dominican Republic’s typically sunny skies. Andrea Sachs, Washington Post, "Is it safe to travel to the Dominican Republic?," 12 June 2019 Still, worries over trade policy have darkened the outlook for many. Christopher Rugaber, The Seattle Times, "US economists optimistic about growth, worried about tariffs," 1 Oct. 2018 Windshield wipers swiped, rain rattled, dusk was darkened by clouds. Richard Brookhiser, National Review, "Weather Trends," 20 June 2019 The 61-year-old Democrat served nine years as mayor, the last three darkened by a public investigation into ethical lapses and conflicts of interest. Rebecca Lurye, courant.com, "A decade after his corruption scandal broke, Hartford weighs a second chance for Eddie Perez," 17 June 2019 Even with trade tensions and a shaky global environment darkening the U.S. outlook, the risk of a recession still seems low. Justin Lahart, WSJ, "Fed Stimulus Just Ain’t What It Used to Be," 17 June 2019 By the end of the 1700s, scientists had realized that silver chloride and silver nitrate would darken when exposed to light, a photochemical effect that would soon make photography possible. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Scientists found these old photographs contain metallic nanoparticles," 12 June 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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Statistics for darken

Last Updated

7 Jul 2019

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 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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with darken

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for darken

Spanish Central: Translation of darken

Nglish: Translation of darken for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of darken for Arabic Speakers

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