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

Keep scrolling for more

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)

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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

The sun sets near 10:00 p.m. in Paris in early July, and the sky doesn’t fully darken until 11:00 p.m. If locals are blasé (quite French) about the extra hours of light, enchanted out-of-towners make the most of it. Nicole Phelps, Vogue, "Moncler and MyTheresa Host a Sunset Dinner in Paris to Celebrate Simone Rocha," 8 July 2019 Numerous brands have courted controversy in recent months with design choices that customers complained resembled blackface, the racist practice of darkening one’s complexion with makeup. Kim Willis, USA TODAY, "Italian airline Alitalia 'deeply apologizes' for Obama video showing an actor in blackface," 4 July 2019 Blackface refers to darkening one's complexion using paint or makeup. Jack Guy, CNN, "Italian airline apologizes over Obama blackface video," 4 July 2019 Passersby gathered, cheered them on, and Wigstock was born, a joyous end-of-summer celebration that became an annual Labor Day event through 2001, then 9/11 darkened the mood and the cost of living made New York unaffordable for those on the fringe. Peter Keough, BostonGlobe.com, "Doc Talk: Endless love, film school confidential, kind of a drag," 3 July 2019 That will push the 360-degree sunrise effect farther down toward the horizon, darkening the skies directly above and allowing more stars to shine than in 2017. The Washington Post, The Mercury News, "A 6,000-mile path will experience a total solar eclipse next week. The display won’t be easy to see.," 26 June 2019 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

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

21 Jul 2019

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 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.

Keep scrolling for more

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

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).


an act or instance of editing or removing

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What's that Smell?! Quiz

  • wide eyed dog smelling rose
  • Someone who is hircine smells like a:
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!