\ˈstärk \

Definition of stark 

(Entry 1 of 4)

1a : rigid in or as if in death

b : rigidly conforming (as to a pattern or doctrine) : absolute stark discipline

2 archaic : strong, robust

3 : utter, sheer stark nonsense

4a : barren, desolate

b(1) : having few or no ornaments : bare a stark white room

(2) : harsh, blunt the stark realities of death

5 : sharply delineated a stark contrast



Definition of stark (Entry 2 of 4)

1 : in a stark manner

2 : to an absolute or complete degree : wholly stark naked stark mad


biographical name (1)
\ˈshtärk, ˈstärk \

Definition of Stark (Entry 3 of 4)

Johannes 1874–1957 German physicist


biographical name (2)
\ˈstärk \

Definition of Stark (Entry 4 of 4)

John 1728–1822 American general in Revolution

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Other Words from stark


starkly adverb
starkness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for stark

Synonyms: Adjective

austere, dour, fierce, flinty, forbidding, grim, gruff, intimidating, lowering (also louring), rough, rugged, severe, steely, stern, ungentle

Antonyms: Adjective

benign, benignant, gentle, mild, tender

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Examples of stark in a Sentence


The room was decorated with stark simplicity. the stark reality of death This tragedy serves as a stark reminder of the dangers of drunk driving. There is a stark difference between them. His criticism of the movie stands in stark contrast to the praise it has received from others.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Another of his creations, Mr. A (also created in 1967), wielded a black-and-white business card that represented the stark difference between good and evil, with no gray area in between. David Sims, The Atlantic, "Steve Ditko’s Ordinary People," 10 July 2018 This is typical of the early rounds of the women's tournament, when the stark physical differences between high seeds and everyone else is most glaring and the national powers need not be near their best to achieve blowouts. Tim Sullivan, The Courier-Journal, "Bullying basketball works for Louisville women|Tim Sullivan," 18 Mar. 2018 This year's rankings were the first to break down health outcomes by race, and Gianfranco Pezzino, a senior fellow with the Kansas Health Institute, said that showed stark differences crossing county lines in measures like low-birth-weight babies. Andy Marso, kansascity, "JoCo tops Kansas health rankings again. But not all residents share the benefits | The Kansas City Star," 16 Mar. 2018 Another finds even more stark differences — the public opposes family separation by a 66/27 percent margin, but Republicans favor it, 55/35 percent. Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, "Why Trump Is Using Hostage Tactics on Family Separation," 18 June 2018 For Philip Guster, 38, a marketing program manager at DTE, there was a stark difference between the family's experiences following the birth of Mitchell in 2014 and the birth of Amelia in November. Kristen Jordan Shamus, Detroit Free Press, "US last in paid parental leave, but some Mich. companies stepping up," 14 June 2018 The result is a fraught connection between Philadelphia and these remote Pennsylvania towns, with stark cultural and racial differences. Samantha Melamed,, "Can the rural prison economy survive the era of decarceration?," 7 June 2018 For 12 years, the stark differences between his east side neighborhood and the other half of his Southern California city – the unhealthy chain restaurants and inferior parks, softball fields and other recreation areas – have irritated Juan Carillo. NBC News, "California's Latinos and Asian Americans target city councils with district elections," 3 June 2018 Fans worldwide expressed disbelief at the stark difference between the photo and Li's famously youthful appearance. Jessie Yeung, CNN, "Jet Li tells fans he's 'feeling great' after shocking viral photo," 23 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb

Around the turn of the last century, our place, which is now surrounded by woods, sat stark on a bald hilltop with nary a tree in sight. Vogue, "3 Writers On Living Sustainably In 2018," 21 June 2018 Kruger’s stark, carefully laid out design cleverly turns the façade of an innocuous strip-building into the memory of a Greek temple, the classical style in which art museums were once conventionally built. Christopher Knight,, "Artist Barbara Kruger turns a bland building into a screaming statement. Time to listen up," 14 June 2018 Joslyn Gray is the author of the humor blog stark. raving. Joslyn Gray, Redbook, "Parental Peer Pressure: A Game I Cannot Win," 12 Mar. 2012

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'stark.' 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 stark


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for stark


Middle English, stiff, strong, from Old English stearc; akin to Old High German starc strong, Lithuanian starinti to stiffen — more at stare

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Statistics for stark

Last Updated

4 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for stark

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

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More Definitions for stark



English Language Learners Definition of stark

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: having a very plain and often cold or empty appearance

: unpleasant and difficult to accept or experience

: very obvious : very plain and easily seen



English Language Learners Definition of stark (Entry 2 of 2)

: completely or fully


\ˈstärk \
starker; starkest

Kids Definition of stark

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : barren sense 2, desolate a stark landscape

2 : clear and harsh She faced the stark reality of poverty.

3 : very obvious The differences were stark.



Kids Definition of stark (Entry 2 of 2)

: completely stark naked

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Comments on stark

What made you want to look up stark? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


evasion of direct action or statement

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