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 The mere mention of the Buckeyes during a Zoom call with reporters Thursday caused the cheery Brown to grow agitated as his face darkened. Rainer Sabin, Detroit Free Press, "Ohio State still the ghost that haunts Michigan football," 22 May 2020 The burning weatherproofs the wood and causes its grain to darken and emerge in a beautiful pattern. Melissa Fletcher Stoeltje, ExpressNews.com, "Out of the coronavirus pandemic, two San Antonio high schoolers learn to embrace ‘dirt therapy’," 21 May 2020 As the prospects in Arkansas darken, Mr. McCready is scheduled to perform in another concert, arranged by the same promoters, and set for Saturday in Pineville, Missouri, about two hours away. Graham Bowley, New York Times, "Officials Move to Block Concert Billed as First Since Virus Hit," 13 May 2020 The decisions come as showrooms are darkened from the spread of the outbreak and as more Americans have been thrown out of work because of the pandemic, increasing the likelihood of recession. Chester Dawson, Bloomberg.com, "Toyota, Honda Extend Auto Plant Shutdowns in U.S. and Canada," 12 May 2020 Without getting too scientific, DHA reacts with the amino acids in the cells on the top layer of your skin to darken them without affecting any of the cells below this layer. Emily Vanschmus, Better Homes & Gardens, "I Just Tried Self Tanner for the First Time, and Here's What I Learned," 24 Apr. 2020 Others piled up their meager belongings to make windbreaks as a storm forecast to drop 10 inches of snow on the city darkened the sky. Trevor Hughes, USA TODAY, "Homeless people forced to stay in makeshift shelters as coronavirus spreads. What they need is real housing," 23 Apr. 2020 Yet as the day darkens to evening, Taylor still has plenty to say. Raisa Bruner, Time, "'I Knew Inevitably It Would Betray You.' James Taylor on Avoiding the Trap of Celebrity," 6 Feb. 2020 But volcanic aerosols can block sunlight and darken lunar eclipses. Katherine Kornei, Science | AAAS, "‘Dark’ lunar eclipse points to medieval volcanic eruptions," 4 May 2020

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

25 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Darken.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/darken. Accessed 1 Jun. 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

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