dark·​ness ˈdärk-nəs How to pronounce darkness (audio)
: the quality or state of being dark: such as
: the total or near total absence of light
There was almost no light when he opened his eyes again. The darkness of night was thick and for a moment he began to panic again.Gary Paulsen
: the quality of being dark in shade or color
the darkness of the old wooden floor
the darkness of these blues and greens
: dark color or colors
In O'Donnell's paintings, darkness pre-dominates. If there are bright colors, they are painted over a deep-hued ground.Richard Kalina
: the quality of being dark in complexion
Few people know the isolation Owens endured during his childhood in Alexander City, Ala. Other kids teased him mercilessly for the darkness of his skin and his beanpole physique.Jeffri Chadiha
: a gloomy or depressed state or tone
I'm not suicidal, clinically depressed, or bipolar, but I am subject to mood swings. … I've tried a number of different mental techniques, mostly prayer, visualization, and meditation, but nothing has worked to lighten my darkness.Will Manley
And the other darkness was a tremendous sorrow, a deep sadness that her mother was dead and that the princess could, now, only talk to her in her dreams.Kate DiCamillo
What, I wondered, did the good man of the cloth make of the reckless humor, the anger and the darkness of those late works?Russell Banks
: evil
From the same source he drew the picture of a heavenly visitor, a god who comes to earth to impart true knowledge … and save humanity from the powers of darkness.J. Louis Martyn
: a lack of knowledge or enlightenment
In 1492, the intellectual darkness that shrouded Europe for centuries was slowly, almost grudgingly lifting.Bob Fisher

Examples of darkness in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Richard Lewis‘ career has, in some ways, always been defined by his proximity to darkness. Ej Dickson, Rolling Stone, 28 Feb. 2024 Gar-Nay’s Winery in Collins will host an adult-only eclipse party at its winery and is excepting around 4 minutes of total darkness during the eclipse. Detroit Free Press, 26 Feb. 2024 Daylight will give way to sudden darkness for a few brief minutes that day as the orbiting moon will appear as the same size as the sun, completely blocking its light. Eric Lagatta, USA TODAY, 26 Feb. 2024 Ohio will be at the center of a once-in-a-lifetime weather event in just a couple of months, when a sizeable region of North America will be cast in darkness this April. Grace Tucker, The Enquirer, 23 Feb. 2024 Join 14 others in the comments View Comments After one week, lunar night will shroud the landing zone in darkness, plunging the spacecraft into freezing cold. Jackie Wattles, CNN, 22 Feb. 2024 In sonorous, curiously futuristic-sounding voiceovers in the Fon language spoken in Benin, the early 19th century ruler describes thousands of years of darkness in a foreign land after being uprooted like countless others from his place of origin. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, 18 Feb. 2024 Despite the darkness, the album isn’t necessarily bleak. Tess Growney, SPIN, 15 Feb. 2024 The Affordable Alternative Is spending tens of thousands of dollars for a few minutes of darkness and a unique view of the sun worth it? Jamie Carter, Forbes, 15 Feb. 2024 See More

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

Word History


Middle English derknesse, going back to Old English deorcnysse, from deorc dark entry 1 + -nysse -ness

First Known Use

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of darkness was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near darkness

Cite this Entry

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

More from Merriam-Webster on darkness

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!