dark·​ness | \ ˈdärk-nəs How to pronounce darkness (audio) \

Definition of darkness

: the quality or state of being dark: such as
a : 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
b(1) : 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
(2) : 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
c(1) : 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
(2) : 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
(3) : a lack of knowledge or enlightenment In 1492, the intellectual darkness that shrouded Europe for centuries was slowly, almost grudgingly lifting.— Bob Fisher

First Known Use of darkness

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for darkness

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

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Time Traveler for darkness

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for darkness

Last Updated

20 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Darkness.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/darkness. Accessed 3 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for darkness



English Language Learners Definition of darkness

: a state in which little or no light can be seen : a dark state or condition
: the state of having a color or shade that is closer to black than white
: a state in which information is hidden from most people


dark·​ness | \ ˈdärk-nəs \

Kids Definition of darkness

1 : absence of light The room was in darkness.
2 : night sense 1 We were already in bed when darkness fell.
3 : evil entry 2 sense 1, wickedness The heroes fought the powers of darkness.

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