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[dahr-kuh n] /ˈdɑr kən/
verb (used with object)
to make dark or darker.
to make obscure.
to make less white or clear in color.
to make gloomy; sadden:
He darkened the festivities by his presence.
to make blind.
verb (used without object)
to become dark or darker.
to become obscure.
to become less white or clear in color.
to grow clouded, as with gloom or anger.
to become blind.
darken someone's door, to come to visit; make an appearance:
Never darken my door again!
Origin of darken
1250-1300; Middle English derknen. See dark, -en1
Related forms
darkener, noun
undarken, verb (used with object)
well-darkened, adjective
4. depress, dispirit, blacken, deject. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for darken
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • She was not sure he had even mentioned the theatre, but the mere possibility was enough to darken her sky.

    The Reef Edith Wharton
  • She walked softly to the window and adjusted the shade to darken the office.

    All Day September Roger Kuykendall
  • Use no sugar, and no allspice in the vinegar as it would tend to darken the onions.

  • If there be no sulphur in the hair, they will not darken it.

  • Stretches of pine woods behind, shutting in from the great outer world, and soon to darken into evening gloom.

    Eli Heman White Chaplin
  • They swarm like our locusts; they darken the earth as our buffaloes darken the plains.

    The Buffalo Runners R.M. Ballantyne
  • Yet it goes hard with you that you should darken one side, when with both open you can scarce tell a horse from a mule.

    The White Company Arthur Conan Doyle
  • It already begins to darken; and we must have clear daylight for such a purpose.

    The Cliff Climbers Captain Mayne Reid
  • There are often clouds of sand in Arabia which darken the air and form dangerous whirlwinds.

    Buffon's Natural History, Volume II (of 10) Georges Louis Leclerc de Buffon
British Dictionary definitions for darken


to make or become dark or darker
to make or become gloomy, angry, or sad: his mood darkened
(usually used with a negative) darken someone's door, to visit someone: never darken my door again!
Derived Forms
darkener, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for darken

c. 1300, "to make dark;" late 14c., "to become dark," from dark (adj.) + -en (1). The more usual verb in Middle English was simply dark, as it is in Chaucer and Shakespeare, and darken did not predominate until 17c. The Anglo-Saxons also had a verb sweorcan meaning "to grow dark." To darken someone's door (usually with a negative) is attested from 1729.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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