Definition of dark in English:

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Pronunciation: /dɑːk/


1With little or no light: it’s too dark to see much
More example sentences
  • Oranjestad harbor is well lit if it gets dark before you get there.
  • I've always been like a cave-woman - awake when it's light and asleep as soon as it gets dark.
  • Do what you have to do early, when it gets dark go to bed then wake up early and complete your homework.
black, pitch-black, pitch-dark, inky, jet-black, unlit, unlighted, unilluminated, ill-lit, poorly lit;
starless, moonless, dim, dingy, gloomy, dusky, indistinct, shadowy, shady;
leaden, overcast, sunless
literary crepuscular, tenebrous
rare Stygian, Cimmerian, Tartarean, caliginous
1.1(Of a theatre) closed; not in use: when I came to work here, over half the West End theatres were dark
More example sentences
  • There is no longer a show, the theatre is dark, and The Mirage ironically lives up to its name.
  • The theatre's dark today, which is just as well because the police have just cordoned off the top of Roseberry Avenue with red tape.
  • Because the theatre's dark, it does odd things to the Front of House dept's shifts.
2(Of a colour or object) not reflecting much light; approaching black in shade: dark green
More example sentences
  • Shades of dark green, blue and red designs and grand borders are popular designs on a saree.
  • They wear light blue shirts, dark pants and these black arm badges with IP written on them and the flag.
  • The clouds took on a fiery orange hue and the few open patches that led to the blue sky were a dark purple.
2.1(Of someone’s skin, hair, or eyes) brown or black in colour: dark curly hair
More example sentences
  • She had short dark hair and matching dark eyes and wore black pants with a red tank top under her apron.
  • The dark skinned woman pulled up her sleeve and revealed two scars running up her left wrist.
  • She pulled her dark wavy curls out of her face and anchored her thin frame against Zeeks's side.
brunette, dark brown, auburn, tawny, copper-coloured, coppery, chestnut, chestnut-coloured, jet-black, sable, ebony;
swarthy, sallow, olive, dusky, black, ebony;
tanned, bronzed, suntanned, sunburned;
2.2(Of a person) having dark skin, hair, or eyes: a tall, dark girl both my father and I are very dark
More example sentences
  • The people are dark skinned, their faces pinched, their bodies hunched as though perpetually cold.
  • If a daughter is too dark skinned she may not be able to find a good husband.
  • A dark-complexioned girl is engaged to be married to a dark man much older than her.
3(Of a period or situation) characterized by great unhappiness or unpleasantness: the dark days of the war
More example sentences
  • At the beginning of this campaign I said that this is a dark period for the union, but we would come through it and the union would be stronger.
  • Only a few months ago they prophesied the advent of a new dark age.
  • Clyde Prestowitz told Alison Caldwell that it was a dark day for the World Trade Organisation.
tragic, disastrous, calamitous, catastrophic, cataclysmic, ruinous, devastating;
dire, ghastly, awful, unfortunate, dreadful, horrible, terrible, horrific, hideous, horrendous, frightful, atrocious, abominable, abhorrent, gruesome, grisly, monstrous, nightmarish, heinous, harrowing;
wretched, woeful
literary direful
3.1Deeply pessimistic: a dark vision of the future
More example sentences
  • A folky lament on death and love, it never sounds as dark as its lyrics intend because of tremendous harmonies.
  • Your new book Dr Sweet… is a dark comedy - what is your favourite comedy film or tv series?
  • If you've never seen the film and have a taste for esoteric dark comedies, give this one a spin.
gloomy, dismal, pessimistic, negative, defeatist, downbeat, gloom-ridden, cynical, bleak, grim, fatalistic, black, sombre, drab, dreary;
despairing, despondent, depressed, dejected, demoralized, hopeless, cheerless, joyless, melancholy, glum, lugubrious, Eeyorish, grave, funereal, morose, mournful, doleful, suspicious, distrustful, doubting, alarmist
3.2(Of an expression) angry: Matthew flashed a dark look at her
More example sentences
  • The prince scowled and took on a dark expression that Merlin had not seen before on the cordial coyote.
  • He didn't say anything, a dark expression on his face as he watched his brother.
  • Allison shivered at his words and noticed the dark expressions of her two other companions.
moody, brooding, sullen, dour, glum, morose, sulky, frowning, scowling, glowering, angry, forbidding, threatening, ominous
3.3Suggestive of or arising from evil; sinister: so many dark deeds had been committed
More example sentences
  • The moor evolves from geological hazard into a metaphor for dark thoughts and evil deeds.
  • For some time now, taking hormone replacement therapy has been almost synonymous with embracing the dark forces of evil.
  • A movie which is about dark power and evil, it uses the most powerful of Indian myths to its advantage.
evil, wicked, sinful, immoral, wrong, morally wrong, wrongful, bad, iniquitous;
ungodly, unholy, irreligious, unrighteous, sacrilegious, profane, blasphemous, impious, godless, base, mean, vile;
shameful, discreditable, unspeakable, foul, monstrous, shocking, outrageous, atrocious, abominable, reprehensible, hateful, detestable, despicable, odious, contemptible, horrible, heinous, execrable, diabolical, diabolic, fiendish, vicious, murderous, barbarous, black, rotten, perverted, reprobate, sordid, degenerate, depraved, dissolute, dishonourable, dishonest, unscrupulous, unprincipled
informal crooked, bent, warped, low-down, stinking, dirty, shady
Law  malfeasant
rare dastardly, peccable, egregious, flagitious
4Hidden from knowledge; mysterious: a dark secret
More example sentences
  • The bright facades of present-day Willemstad conceal the dark secrets of offshore finance.
  • Mothers and pushchairs crowd the OK Laundrette, beside the dark mysteries of the Wizard Tattoo Shop.
  • All three protagonists try to piece the clues together in order to unveil the dark mysteries at work.
mysterious, secret, hidden, concealed, veiled, unrevealed, covert, clandestine;
enigmatic, arcane, esoteric, obscure, abstruse, recondite, recherché, inscrutable, impenetrable, opaque, incomprehensible, cryptic;
Military  black
4.1 (darkest) humorous (Of a region) most remote, inaccessible, or uncivilized: he lives somewhere in darkest Essex
More example sentences
  • Mysterious giant beasts may lurk in the darkest depths of the ocean, making whale-like noises that are baffling scientists, it was disclosed today.
  • She escaped the deepest darkest depths of middle England and having tried out London and New York for size currently resides in Glasgow Scotland.
  • I had banished that vile song to the darkest recesses of my soul, and you had to resurrect it.
4.2 archaic Ignorant; unenlightened: he is dark on certain points of scripture
More example sentences
  • I'm not just defending the Wii, I'm defending all gaming consoles from ignorant people. Now here's where you can either remain in your dark ignorant state, or give in to the truth.
  • Science, they say, leading mankind to progress, peace, and tranquility, safeguards bright minds from dark, ignorant times.
  • While Christianity claims to have gradually lifted humanity out of dark ignorance of a dark pre-Christian world, the truth is opposite.
5 Phonetics Denoting a velarized form of the sound of the letter l (as in pull in south-eastern English speech). Often contrasted with clear.
Example sentences
  • English has two allophones for /l/, "light/clearl" and "darkl". I am conducting a study on the distribution of these two allophones.
  • Since L Vocalization is stigmatized, people "moving up" to RP often do not hear the difference between dark L and vocalized L (o), and so substitute light L instead of their vocalized L in words such as pill, milk people.
  • To pronounce the dark 'l' in girl or world, unroll the tongue and press the tip up against the alveolar ridge just behind the teeth.


1 (the dark) The absence of light in a place: Carolyn was sitting in the dark
More example sentences
  • It was quite normal to go into someone's study and find two people sitting on a bed together in the dark.
  • He's had a nightlight for a few months now - we gave in to his growing unease of being in the dark.
  • Parents in Oldham are now being urged to be on their guard and not let their children out alone in the dark.
darkness, blackness, absence of light, gloom, gloominess, dimness, dullness, murk, murkiness, shadowiness, shadow, shade, shadiness, dusk, twilight, gloaming
rare tenebrosity
1.1 [mass noun] Nightfall: I’ll be home before dark
More example sentences
  • This pyrotechnical extension to the Great Wall glowed eerily under dark of night as the fire climbed up and over dunes.
  • In morning dark, Bradson was woken by the mosque singer, as he had been each morning he had been in this Sasak village.
  • Working from dawn until dark can become the breeding ground toward poor health in both mind and body.
night, night-time, darkness, hours of darkness;
nightfall, evening, twilight, sunset
2A dark colour or shade, especially in a painting: lights and darks are juxtaposed arbitrarily to create a sense of shallow relief
More example sentences
  • Brian sees the world in black and white, and Caravaggio painted in lights and darks.
  • Using basic unmixed colors, right next to higher contrasting colors, Kinley adequately communicates darks and lights.
  • Kehoe's broad brushstrokes reduce the surfaces and modeling of her subjects to angular planes of lights and darks.



the darkest hour is just before the dawn

proverb When things seem to be at their worst they are about to start improving.
Example sentences
  • She understood that the harshest suffering precedes the redemption, that the darkest hour is just before the dawn.
  • They say that the darkest hour is just before the dawn and in this case it is true.
  • So take heart, the darkest hour is just before the dawn.

in the dark

In a state of ignorance: the player is still in the dark about his future
More example sentences
  • The reader is not allowed to be in the dark as to why Indonesia became so important, for instance.
  • It also provides a handy pointer to The Camel-Toe Report for anyone still in the dark.
  • Naturally, no more did appear and the American public has been kept in the dark ever since.
unaware of, ignorant of, in ignorance of, oblivious to, uninformed about, unenlightened about, unacquainted with, unconversant with
rare nescient of

keep something dark

British Keep something secret: you’ve kept your plans very dark

a shot (or stab) in the dark

An act whose outcome cannot be foreseen; a guess: their experiments were little more than shots in the dark
More example sentences
  • I'll whisper this in case it is too much of a shot in the dark but I believe West Indies will win at least one Test in England.
  • It is a shot in the dark, but nothing ventured, nothing gained.
  • The Oxford Declaration was not a shot in the dark or an isolated incident.
guess, random guess, wild guess, surmise, supposition, conjecture, speculation, theorizing



Pronunciation: /ˈdɑːkɪʃ/
Example sentences
  • The suspect was in a dark short-sleeved shirt, darkish trousers, dark baseball cap with white motif on the front.
  • It's a darkish area, so it needs to be lit up like fireworks.
  • His hair, darkish brown fading to grey, flies upwards in tufts.


Pronunciation: /ˈdɑːksəm/
adjective ( literary)
Example sentences
  • Love is like to when rere-mice, too early flush'd by a cat out of a darksome, noisome cave, behold the sun in all its noon glory.
  • I am referring to holy scripture, which seemed darksome because it was not understood… So I sent these lamps to enlighten blind and dense understandings.
  • Bad souls they consign to a darksome, stormy abyss, full of punishments that know no end.


Old English deorc, of Germanic origin, probably distantly related to German tarnen 'conceal'.

  • The origins of dark are mysterious, although it may be related to German tarnen ‘to conceal’. Ideas of secrecy and mystery are behind such phrases as to keep someone in the dark and a dark secret. Also mysterious is the Dark Lady, the anonymous woman to whom Shakespeare dedicated a number of his sonnets. Although there have been various suggestions as to who she was, the lady has never been certainly identified. A dark night of the soul is a period of great depression or soul-searching. The phrase was used by F. Scott Fitzgerald, author of The Great Gatsby, in 1936: ‘In a real dark night of the soul it is always three o'clock in the morning.’ It originated in the title of a poem by the Spanish mystic and poet St John of the Cross (1542–91), Noche oscura, ‘Dark Night’, which was rendered by a Victorian translator as ‘Dark Night of the Soul’. One of the most famous opening lines in literature is ‘It was a dark and stormy night’, which begins Paul Clifford (1830) by the British novelist and politician Lord Edward Bulwer-Lytton. Today his name is a byword for bad writing, and there is an annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest for bad writing in the USA, but in his lifetime he was a successful writer who also became a reforming MP.

Words that rhyme with dark

arc, ark, Bach, bark, barque, Braque, Clark, clerk, embark, hark, impark, Iraq, Ladakh, Lamarck, lark, macaque, marc, mark, marque, narc, nark, Newark, park, quark, sark, shark, snark, spark, stark, Vlach

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: dark

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