View synonyms for dark


[ dahrk ]


, dark·er, dark·est.
  1. having very little or no light:

    The movie projector works much better in a dark room.

  2. radiating, admitting, or reflecting little light:

    A worm bin can be started in a 10-gallon plastic container in a dark color.

    Antonyms: bright

  3. approaching black in hue:

    They stained the wood floor a dark brown.

  4. not pale or fair in skin tone:

    My mother had a dark complexion, but my father's was lighter.

    Synonyms: black, dusky

  5. brunette; brown or black:

    The man is described as 55 to 65 years old, with short gray hair and dark eyebrows.

  6. having brown or black hair:

    She's dark but her children are blond.

  7. (of food or drink, especially coffee beans) roasted, cooked, or toasted until near black in color: often used to describe the process itself:

    That brand of coffee is good, but I can't always find the dark roast.

  8. (of coffee) containing only a small amount of milk or cream:

    We'll have two large coffees—one black, one dark and sweet.

  9. evil; iniquitous; wicked:

    At the film's climax, the protagonist reveals a dark plot to assassinate the king.

  10. gloomy; cheerless; dismal:

    He served as a courier for the Polish resistance during the dark days of World War II.

    Antonyms: cheerful

  11. dealing with subject matter that is shocking, disturbing, or grim:

    This manga is a bit darker than the typical princess novel, as it has some scenes with gore.

  12. sullen; frowning:

    With a dark expression, he demanded to know what she was doing.

    Antonyms: pleasant

  13. hidden; secret.
  14. hard to understand; obscure:

    Among the fragments left us by this poet, many lines are dark in meaning.

    Synonyms: abstruse, recondite

    Antonyms: clear

  15. silent; reticent.
  16. destitute of knowledge or culture; unenlightened.
  17. (of a theater) offering no performances; closed:

    The theaters in this town are dark on Sundays.

  18. Phonetics.
    1. (of an l- sound) having back-vowel resonance; situated after a vowel in the same syllable. Compare clear ( def 24a ).
    2. (of a speech sound) of dull quality; acoustically damped.


  1. the absence of light; darkness:

    I can't see well in the dark.

  2. night; nightfall:

    Please come home before dark.

  3. a color close to black, or something having such a color:

    Black and white photography has lots of darks.

    For best results, wash darks separately from whites.

  4. Archaic. a place that lacks light:

    Imagine diving into the dark of the sea and seeing a face emerge from the watery shadows.

verb (used with object)

  1. to make dark; darken:

    The windows of the car had been darked, making it impossible to see inside.

verb (used without object)

  1. Obsolete. to grow dark; darken.


/ dɑːk /


  1. having little or no light

    a dark street

  2. (of a colour) reflecting or transmitting little light Compare light 1 medium

    dark brown

    1. (of complexion, hair colour, etc) not fair or blond; swarthy; brunette
    2. ( in combination )


  3. gloomy or dismal
  4. sinister; evil

    a dark purpose

  5. sullen or angry

    a dark scowl

  6. ignorant or unenlightened

    a dark period in our history

  7. secret or mysterious

    keep it dark

  8. phonetics denoting an (l) pronounced with a velar articulation giving back vowel resonance. In English, l is usually dark when final or preconsonantal Compare light 1
  9. go dark informal.
    stock exchange (of a company) to remove itself from the register of major exchanges while continuing to trade


  1. absence of light; darkness
  2. night or nightfall
  3. a dark place, patch, or shadow
  4. a state of ignorance (esp in the phrase in the dark )


  1. an archaic word for darken

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Derived Forms

  • ˈdarkness, noun
  • ˈdarkly, adverb
  • ˈdarkish, adjective

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Other Words From

  • non·dark adjective
  • pre·dark adjective

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Word History and Origins

Origin of dark1

First recorded before 1000; (for the adjective) Middle English derk, Old English deorc; (for the noun and verb) Middle English, derivative of the adjective; compare Middle High German terken “to darken, hide”

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Word History and Origins

Origin of dark1

Old English deorc ; related to Old High German terchennen to hide

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Idioms and Phrases

  1. go dark,
    1. to stop communicating, transmitting, or broadcasting:

      Thousands of websites went dark for a day to demonstrate that the bill would ruin the internet as we know it.

      I've tried to reach out, but he's gone dark and there's no contact.

    2. to shut down or stop operating; close, temporarily or permanently:

      The area is so depressed that more than half the restaurants in this county have gone dark in the past five years.

  2. in the dark,
    1. in ignorance; uninformed:

      He was in the dark about their plans for the evening.

    2. in secrecy; concealed; obscure.
  3. keep dark, to keep as a secret; conceal:

    They kept their political activities dark.

More idioms and phrases containing dark

  • in the dark
  • keep someone in the dark
  • leap in the dark
  • shot in the dark
  • whistle in the dark

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Synonym Study

Dark, dim, obscure, gloomy, murky refer to absence or insufficiency of light. Dark implies a more or less complete absence of light: a dark night. Dim implies faintness of light or indistinctness of form (resulting from the lack of light or from imperfect vision): a dim outline. Obscure implies dimness that may arise also from factors that interfere with light or vision: obscure because of haze. Gloomy means cloudy, ill-lighted, dusky: a gloomy hall. Murky implies a thick or misty darkness: murky water.

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Example Sentences

The issue from a search marketing perspective with this new dark mode is that the ads are a bit harder to distinguish from the organic listings.

It is much harder to see the “Ad” label in the Google dark theme than it is in the light theme.

Sometimes my day is crazy and I can’t get outside until it’s dark.

The dark debris deposits along the path, as well as the still-settling clouds of dust, are telltale signs of a landslide, researchers say.

That cultural change has been driven by founders and investors who want to keep their startups stealthy and their competitors in the dark about where their finances are.

He wore white gloves, a dignified long black coat, and matching pants and vest, and he carried a dark walking stick.

I thought about the mother, her fear of the dark, of the harm she feared might come to her daughters.

Then she managed to struggle a mile through dark, rainy woods.

These are dark times for network TV, but experiments like Galavant are the silver lining.

Luke Skywalker is an evil robot who has fallen to the dark side of the force.

Ripperda's eye fell upon the mantle,—it was discoloured a dark red in many places, he nodded his head, and the man withdrew.

He glanced aside, and saw an exceedingly pretty, dark face, which looked vaguely familiar.

Down in his galleries and chambers where it was dark as a pocket Grandfather Mole enjoyed himself thoroughly.

His dark, shining, almost too intelligent eyes looked at Nigel, and looked away.

The seeds of some species are of a dark brown while others are of a lighter shade.


Related Words

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More About Dark

What is a basic definition of dark?

Dark describes something that lacks or has very little light. Dark is the absence of light. Dark also describes something that is depressing or evil. The word dark has several other senses as an adjective, noun, and a verb.

If something is dark, it means that it has no light or has very small amounts of light.

Real-life examples: If you turn the lights off in a room, the room becomes dark. When the sun sets at night, it becomes very dark outside. A dark alley has no streetlights, making it very hard to see anything.

Used in a sentence: He used a flashlight to help him see in the dark cellar. 

In this sense, dark also refers to an absence of light. The dark is the deep blackness such as you see when you close your eyes.

Real-life examples: Many children are afraid of the dark. It is usually a good idea not to wander outside in the dark because of nocturnal animals.

Used in a sentence: The wolf ran into the cave and disappeared into the dark. 

Dark also describes something that is gloomy, depressing, or grim. You probably know some movies or books you would call dark because they don’t have a happy ending or are very depressing.

Real-life examples: The stories of Edgar Allen Poe are usually dark, containing death and sad endings. Horror movies tend to be dark, as they are often full of depressing events and unhappy endings. Dark comedy uses depressing or sad topics to make tragicomedy.

Used in a sentence: We went through some dark days after our friend died. 

Dark can also describe something that is evil or wicked.

Real-life examples: Bad guys perform dark deeds. The heroes of stories will try to stop the dark plots of the villains.

Used in a sentence: The heroine had an exciting sword fight with the dark lord in his evil lair.

Where does dark come from?

The first records of the adjective dark come from before the year 1000. It ultimately comes from the Old English deorc. The first records of the noun and verb senses of dark come from the adjective sense during Middle English.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to dark?

What are some synonyms for dark?

What are some words that share a root or word element with dark

What are some words that often get used in discussing dark?

How is dark used in real life?

Dark is a common word with several different meanings. It most often refers to something that lacks light and makes it hard to see.



Try using dark!

Is dark used correctly in the following sentence?

He slammed his knee against the table because he couldn’t see anything in the dark living room.

Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Idioms from The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.




Darjeelingdark adaptation