verb (used with object)

to make black; darken.
to speak evil of; defame: to blacken a person's reputation.

verb (used without object)

to grow or become black.

Origin of blacken

Middle English word dating back to 1250–1300; see origin at black, -en1
Related formsblack·en·er, noun

Synonyms for blacken Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for blacken

Historical Examples of blacken

  • You shall tarnish the memory of our father and blacken the honor of our mother.

    A Son of Hagar

    Sir Hall Caine

  • But already his swollen tongue was beginning to blacken in his mouth.

    Bloom of Cactus

    Robert Ames Bennet

  • Blacken your face and fast really, that the Master of Life may have pity on you and me, and on us all.

    Old Mackinaw

    W. P. Strickland.

  • I will not blacken any man's reputation to further my own interests.

    The Dop Doctor

    Clotilde Inez Mary Graves

  • A woman I was introduced to here in London once tried to blacken it.

    The Dop Doctor

    Clotilde Inez Mary Graves

British Dictionary definitions for blacken



to make or become black or dirty
(tr) to defame; slander (esp in the phrase blacken someone's name)
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

Word Origin and History for blacken

c.1200, "become black or dark;" early 14c., "make black, darken, dye (hair);" see black + -en (1). Figurative sense of "to besmirch" (with dishonor, etc.) is from early 15c. Related: Blackened; blackening.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper