dark·​en ˈdär-kən How to pronounce darken (audio)
darkened; darkening ˈdär-kə-niŋ How to pronounce darken (audio)

intransitive verb

: to grow dark : become obscured
the skies were darkening
: to become gloomy
his mood darkened

transitive verb

: to make dark
: to make less clear : obscure
the financial crisis darkened the future of the company
: taint, tarnish
darkened his reputation
: to cast a gloom over
: to make of darker color
darkener noun

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web The prospect of a second winter of bombardments adds to a darkening mood here. Ian Lovett, WSJ, 13 Nov. 2023 The darkening outlook has led industry groups to ask the federal government for relief. Joseph Lawler, Washington Examiner, 23 Oct. 2023 If the skin begins to darken too much, tent the turkey loosely with aluminum foil. Sean Sherman, San Diego Union-Tribune, 1 Nov. 2023 Jia spoke with alarm of the trend in relations between the world’s two most powerful countries—of the Chinese balloon that was shot down in American territory, of U.S. export controls on technology, of a darkening mood in Beijing. Evan Osnos, The New Yorker, 23 Oct. 2023 The apples will have broken down even more in this time, and will have darkened to a deep amber color thanks to the spices. Pam Lolley, Southern Living, 9 Sep. 2023 Almost immediately, the economic outlook began to darken. David J. Lynch, Washington Post, 4 Sep. 2023 For sharks that also frequent the shallower parts of the sea, their tapeta can darken during the day to deal with the brighter conditions – sort of like donning a pair of sunglasses. Katie Liu, Discover Magazine, 26 Oct. 2023 However, because only 6% of the moon will be darkened this time, the effect will be very subtle. Meghan Overdeep, Southern Living, 26 Oct. 2023 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of darken was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near darken

Cite this Entry

“Darken.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/darken. Accessed 28 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition


dark·​en ˈdär-kən How to pronounce darken (audio)
darkened; darkening ˈdärk-(ə-)niŋ How to pronounce darken (audio)
: to make or grow dark or darker
the sky darkened
: to make or become gloomy or forbidding
her face darkened in anger
darkener noun

More from Merriam-Webster on darken

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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