adjective, dark·er, dark·est.

  1. having very little or no light: a dark room.
  2. radiating, admitting, or reflecting little light: a dark color.
  3. approaching black in hue: a dark brown.
  4. not pale or fair; swarthy: a dark complexion.
  5. brunette; dark-colored: dark eyebrows.
  6. having brunette hair: She’s dark but her children are blond.
  7. (of coffee) containing only a small amount of milk or cream.
  8. gloomy; cheerless; dismal: the dark days of World War II.
  9. sullen; frowning: a dark expression.
  10. evil; iniquitous; wicked: a dark plot.
  11. destitute of knowledge or culture; unenlightened.
  12. hard to understand; obscure.
  13. hidden; secret.
  14. silent; reticent.
  15. (of a theater) offering no performances; closed: The theaters in this town are dark on Sundays.
  16. 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 dark place.
  4. a dark color.

verb (used with object)

  1. to make dark; darken.

verb (used without object)

  1. Obsolete. to grow dark; darken.

  1. in the dark,
    1. in ignorance; uninformed: He was in the dark about their plans for the evening.
    2. in secrecy; concealed; obscure.
  2. keep dark, to keep as a secret; conceal: They kept their political activities dark.


  1. having little or no lighta dark street
  2. (of a colour) reflecting or transmitting little lightdark brown Compare light 1 (def. 29), medium (def. 2)
    1. (of complexion, hair colour, etc) not fair or blond; swarthy; brunette
    2. (in combination)dark-eyed
  3. gloomy or dismal
  4. sinister; evila dark purpose
  5. sullen or angrya dark scowl
  6. ignorant or unenlighteneda dark period in our history
  7. secret or mysteriouskeep 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 preconsonantalCompare light 1 (def. 30)
  9. go dark stock exchange informal (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

early 13c., from dark (adj.). Figurative in the dark “ignorant” first recorded 1670s.


Old English deorc “dark, obscure, gloomy; sad, cheerless; sinister, wicked,” from Proto-Germanic *derkaz (cf. Old High German tarchanjan “to hide, conceal”). “Absence of light” especially at night is the original meaning. Application to colors is 16c. Theater slang for “closed” is from 1916.

In addition to the idioms beginning with dark

  • darken someone’s door
  • dark horse

also see:

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