\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

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

Bertolucci draws heavily on German Expressionism, with its exaggerated, distorted shapes, and the deep, heavy shadows and stark contrasts of film noir. Aja Romano, Vox, "Why Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Conformist still resonates today," 3 Dec. 2018 The stark change wasn’t just personal, but professional—and particularly financial. Julie Zeilinger, Marie Claire, "The Women Who Ran...and Lost," 24 Oct. 2018 Mave’s left arm ended in a cocoon of stark white gauze, a bandage covered the top of her head, and her 10 toes and five fingers were painted bright pink. Nick Turse, Teen Vogue, "The Democratic Republic of Congo Has Humanitarian Crises Leaving Millions of Children In Danger," 14 Nov. 2018 The architects kept the house intentionally minimal with a stark light interior that complements the blunt facade. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "Blocky concrete home hides an airy second level," 8 Nov. 2018 In the oceans The changes in the oceans are just as stark. Scott K. Johnson, Ars Technica, "Mad scientists flip the Earth’s spin in climate models, watch water go nuts," 17 Oct. 2018 Blonde roast is a stunning way to combine shades of darker brown with shades of lighter blonde without an unnaturally stark contrast — think toasted coconut, but with more blending throughout the length of the hair. Marci Robin, Allure, "Blonde Roast Is the Latest Coffee-Inspired Hair-Color Trend for Fall," 14 Oct. 2018 While Wendig notes that this appears to have been Marvel’s call, there are stark similarities and a concerning takeaway: entertainment companies will cave to bad-faith campaigns if the volume is cranked up high enough. Andrew Liptak, The Verge, "Star Wars author Chuck Wendig says he was fired by Marvel over ‘vulgar’ tweets," 12 Oct. 2018 For a farewell ceremony at the Royal Theatre, Brigitte wore a stark white dress with nude pumps. Isabel Greenberg, Harper's BAZAAR, "Princess Mary of Denmark and Brigitte Macron Were Twinning In Red While Meeting in Copenhagen," 30 Aug. 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

13 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

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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More from Merriam-Webster on stark

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with stark

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for stark

Spanish Central: Translation of stark

Nglish: Translation of stark for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of stark for Arabic Speakers

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).


a nest or breeding place

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