AskDefine | Define dark

Dictionary Definition

dark adj
1 devoid or partially devoid of light or brightness; shadowed or black or somber-colored; "sitting in a dark corner"; "a dark day"; "dark shadows"; "the theater is dark on Mondays"; "dark as the inside of a black cat" [ant: light]
2 (used of color) having a dark hue; "dark green"; "dark glasses"; "dark colors like wine red or navy blue" [ant: light]
3 brunet (used of hair or skin or eyes); "dark eyes"
4 stemming from evil characteristics or forces; wicked or dishonorable; "black deeds"; "a black lie"; "his black heart has concocted yet another black deed"; "Darth Vader of the dark side"; "a dark purpose"; "dark undercurrents of ethnic hostility"; "the scheme of some sinister intelligence bent on punishing him"-Thomas Hardy [syn: black, sinister]
5 causing dejection; "a blue day"; "the dark days of the war"; "a week of rainy depressing weather"; "a disconsolate winter landscape"; "the first dismal dispiriting days of November"; "a dark gloomy day"; "grim rainy weather" [syn: blue, depressing, disconsolate, dismal, dispiriting, gloomy, grim]
6 secret; "keep it dark"; "the dark mysteries of Africa and the fabled wonders of the East"
7 showing a brooding ill humor; "a dark scowl"; "the proverbially dour New England Puritan"; "a glum, hopeless shrug"; "he sat in moody silence"; "a morose and unsociable manner"; "a saturnine, almost misanthropic young genius"- Bruce Bliven; "a sour temper"; "a sullen crowd" [syn: dour, glowering, glum, moody, morose, saturnine, sour, sullen]
8 lacking enlightenment or knowledge or culture; "this benighted country"; "benighted ages of barbarism and superstition"; "the dark ages"; "a dark age in the history of education" [syn: benighted]
9 marked by difficulty of style or expression; "much that was dark is now quite clear to me"; "those who do not appreciate Kafka's work say his style is obscure" [syn: obscure]
10 having skin rich in melanin pigments; "National Association for the Advancement of Colored People"; "the dark races"; "dark-skinned peoples" [syn: colored, coloured, dark-skinned]
11 not giving performances; closed; "the theater is dark on Mondays"


1 absence of light or illumination [syn: darkness] [ant: light]
2 absence of moral or spiritual values; "the powers of darkness" [syn: iniquity, wickedness, darkness]
3 an unilluminated area; "he moved off into the darkness" [syn: darkness, shadow]
4 the time after sunset and before sunrise while it is dark outside [syn: night, nighttime] [ant: day]
5 an unenlightened state; "he was in the dark concerning their intentions"; "his lectures dispelled the darkness" [syn: darkness]

User Contributed Dictionary



From deorc


  • /dɑː(r)k/, /dA:(r)k/,
  • Rhymes with: -ɑː(r)k


  1. Having an absolute or (more often) relative lack of light.
    The room was too dark for reading.
  2. In the context of "of colour": Dull or deeper in hue; not bright or light.
    My sister's hair is darker than mine.
    Her skin grew dark with a suntan.
  3. Hidden, secret
    "Meantime we shall express our darker purpose" (Shakespeare, King Lear, i 1).
  4. Without moral or spiritual light; sinister, malign.
  5. Conducive to hopelessness; depressing or bleak
    The Great Depression was a dark time.
  6. Lacking progress in science or the arts; said of a time period
  7. With emphasis placed on the unpleasant aspects of life; said of a work of fiction, a work of nonfiction presented in narrative form or a portion of either
    The ending of this book is rather dark.



having an absolute or relative lack of light
hidden, secret
without moral or spiritual light
not bright or light, deeper in hue


  1. A complete or (more often) partial absence of light.
    Dark surrounds us completely.
  2. Ignorance
    We kept him in the dark.
  3. Nightfall
    It was after dark before we got to playing baseball.


a complete or partial absence of light

Derived terms

Extensive Definition

Darkness (also called lightlessness) is the absence of light. Scientifically it is only possible to have a reduced amount of light. The emotional response to an absence of light has inspired metaphor in literature, symbolism in art, and emphasis.


A dark object reflects fewer visible photons than other objects, and therefore appears dim in comparison. For example, matte black paint does not reflect visible light and appears dark, but white paint reflects all visible light and appears bright. For more information see color. However; light cannot simply be absorbed without limit. Energy, like visible light, cannot be created or destroyed. It can only be converted from one type of energy to another. Most objects that absorb visible light reemit it as infrared light. So, although an object may appear dark, it is likely bright at a frequency that a human being cannot see. For more information see thermodynamics.
A dark area has few, if any, light sources present, making everything hard to see, like at night. Exposure to alternating light and darkness (night and day) has caused several evolutionary adaptations to darkness. When a vertebrate, like a human, is placed in a dark area, its iris dilates, allowing more light to enter the eye and improving night vision.
The scientific definition of light includes the entire electromagnetic spectrum, not just visible light, so it is scientifically impossible to create perfect darkness. For example, all objects radiate heat in the form of infrared light and gamma rays, extremely high frequency light, can penetrate even dense materials.


As a poetic term, darkness can also mean the presence of shadows, evil, or depression.
Darkness can have a strong psychological impact. It can cause depression in people with seasonal affective disorder, fear in nyctophobics, comfort in lygophilics, or attraction as in gothic fashion. These emotions are used to add power to literary imagery.
Religious texts often use darkness to make a visual point. In the Bible, darkness was the second to last plague (Exodus 10:21) and the location of “weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 8:12) The Qur’an has been interpreted to say that those who transgress the bounds of what is right are doomed to “burning despair and ice-cold darkness.” (Nab 78.25) In Greek Mythology, three layers of night surround Tartarus, a place for the worst sinners as far beneath Hades as heaven is high above earth.
The Hindu goddess Kalí (black, dark colored) is also closely associated with darkness and violence. Although she is equally associated with motherhood and benevolence.
In Chinese philosophy Yin is the feminine part of the Taijitu and is represented by a dark lobe.
The use of darkness as a rhetorical device has a long standing tradition. Shakespeare, working in the 16th and 17th centuries, made a character call Satan the “prince of darkness” (King Lear: III, iv) and gave darkness jaws with which to devour love. (A Midsummer Night’s Dream: I, i) Chaucer, a 14th century Middle English writer, wrote that knights must cast away the “workes of darkness.” Dante described hell as “solid darkness stain’d.” Even in Old English there were three words that could mean darkness; heolstor, genip, and sceadu. Heolstor also meant “hiding-place” and became holster, genip meant “mist” and fell out of use like many strong verbs, it is however still used in the Dutch saying "in het geniep" which means secretly, sceadu meant “shadow” and remained in use. The word darkness eventually evolved from the word deorc, which meant “dark”.


Artistically, darkness can also be used to emphasize or contrast with light. See chiaroscuro for a discussion of the uses of such contrasts in visual media.
Color paints are mixed together to create darkness, because each color absorbs certain frequencies of light. Theoretically, mixing together the three primary colors, or the three secondary colors, will absorb all visible light and create black. In practice it is difficult to prevent the mixture from taking on a brown tint.
The color of a point, on a standard 24-bit computer display, is defined by three numbers between 0 and 255, one each for red, green, and blue. Because the absence of light creates darkness, darker colors are closer to (0,0,0).
Pens use darkness, commonly in the form of blue or black ink, to make clear markings on bright paper, commonly white or yellow. Letters displayed on a computer display are also usually created dark, often in the same blue and black colors, on a light background. This difference in brightness levels is called contrast and makes smaller letters readable.
Paintings may use darkness to create leading lines and voids, among other things. These shapes are designed to draw the eye around the painting. Shadows add perspective.

See also


dark in Catalan: Foscor
dark in Czech: Temno
dark in German: Dunkelheit
dark in Spanish: Oscuridad
dark in Esperanto: Mallumo
dark in French: Obscurité
dark in Korean: 어둠
dark in Italian: Oscurità
dark in Luxembourgish: Däischtert
dark in Dutch: Duisternis
dark in Newari: ख्युं
dark in Japanese: 闇
dark in Norwegian Nynorsk: Mørke
dark in Polish: Ciemność
dark in Sicilian: Scuru
dark in Simple English: Darkness
dark in Slovak: Temnota
dark in Finnish: Pimeys
dark in Swedish: Mörker
dark in Chinese: 黑暗

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Egyptian darkness, Erebus, Gothicism, Stygian, ableptical, abominable, abstruse, adiaphanous, age of ignorance, amaurotic, amoral, amorphous, amorphousness, apocalyptic, arcane, arrant, atramentous, atrocious, bad, baleful, baneful, barbarism, base, beamless, beetle-browed, benighted, benightedness, benightment, bereft of light, black, black as coal, black as ebony, black as ink, black as midnight, black as night, black-browed, black-skinned, blackish, blackness, blamable, blameworthy, bleak, blear, bleared, bleary, blind, blurred, blurry, bodeful, boding, brown, brunet, cabalistic, caliginous, castellatus, censored, cheerless, cirrose, cirrous, classified, clear as mud, close, closed, closemouthed, cloud-flecked, clouded, cloudy, coal-black, coaly, color-blind, colored, complicated, concealed, confused, conscienceless, corrupt, corrupted, criminal, crooked, cryptic, cumuliform, cumulous, damnable, dark age, dark as night, dark as pitch, dark-colored, dark-complexioned, dark-skinned, darkish, darkling, darkness, darkness visible, darksome, dead of night, deep, deep black, dejected, devilish, devious, dim, dim-sighted, dire, dirty, discreet, disgraceful, dishonest, dishonorable, dismal, doleful, doomful, doubtful, dour, drab, drear, drearisome, dreary, dubious, dull, dumpish, dun, dusk, dusky, ebon, ebony, eclipsed, enigmatic, esoteric, evasive, evil, evil-starred, execrable, eyeless, faint, fateful, feeble, felonious, filmy, fishy, flagitious, flagrant, fog, fogginess, foggy, foreboding, foul, fraudulent, frowning, funebrial, funereal, fuzziness, fuzzy, gloom, gloominess, gloomy, glowering, glum, grave, gray, grim, grum, grumly, half-seen, half-visible, hazy, heathenism, heavy, heinous, hellish, hemeralopic, hermetic, hidden, hush-hush, ignorance, ignorant, ill, ill-boding, ill-defined, ill-fated, ill-got, ill-gotten, ill-lighted, ill-lit, ill-omened, ill-starred, immoral, impenetrable, impervious to light, improper, in darkness, in the dark, inauspicious, incomprehensible, inconspicuous, indefinite, indeterminate, indeterminateness, indirect, indistinct, indistinctness, indistinguishable, infamous, iniquitous, ink-black, inky, insidious, intense darkness, intransparent, intricate, jetty, joyless, knavish, knotty, latent, lenticularis, lightlessness, low, low-profile, lowering, mammatus, melancholy, melanian, melanic, melanistic, melano, melanotic, melanous, menacing, merely glimpsed, midnight, mind-blind, mist, mistiness, misty, monstrous, moodish, moody, moonlessness, mopey, moping, mopish, morose, mournful, muddy, mumbo jumbo, mumpish, murk, murkiness, murky, mysterious, mystic, mystical, mystification, mystifying, naughty, nebulous, nefarious, night, night-black, night-clad, night-cloaked, night-dark, night-enshrouded, night-filled, night-mantled, night-veiled, nightfall, nigrescent, nigrous, nimbose, not kosher, nubilous, nyctalopic, obfuscated, obfuscation, obscurantism, obscuration, obscure, obscure darkness, obscured, obscurity, occult, occulted, of evil portent, ominous, opacity, opaque, out of focus, overcast, overclouded, paganism, pale, peccant, perplexity, pessimistic, pitch-black, pitch-dark, pitch-darkness, pitchy, pitchy darkness, portending, profound, puzzling, questionable, rank, raven, raven-black, rayless, recondite, reprehensible, reprobate, restricted, roiled, roily, rotten, sable, sad, satanic, saturnine, savagery, scandalous, scowling, secret, secretive, semivisible, shadowy, shady, shameful, shameless, shapeless, shapelessness, shifty, sightless, sinful, sinister, slippery, sloe, sloe-black, sloe-colored, smothered, sober, solemn, somber, sombrous, sorrowful, spiritually blind, squally, stark blind, starless, starlessness, stifled, stone-blind, stormy, stratiform, stratous, subfusc, sulky, sullen, sunless, sunlessness, suntanned, suppressed, surly, suspicious, swart, swarth, swarthiness, swarthy, tar-black, tarry, tenebrious, tenebrose, tenebrosity, tenebrous, tenebrousness, the palpable obscure, threatening, thunderheaded, top secret, total darkness, transcendent, tricky, triste, turbid, ulterior, unbreatheable, uncertain, unclarity, unclear, unclearness, uncommunicative, unconscienced, unconscientious, unconscionable, undefined, under security, under wraps, underhand, underhanded, undiscerning, undisclosable, undisclosed, undivulgable, undivulged, unenlightened, unenlightenment, unethical, unfathomable, unfavorable, unforgivable, unfortunate, unilluminated, unlighted, unlit, unlucky, unobserving, unpardonable, unperceiving, unplain, unplainness, unprincipled, unpromising, unpropitious, unrecognizable, unrevealable, unrevealed, unsavory, unscrupulous, unseeing, unspeakable, unspoken, unstraightforward, untellable, untold, untoward, unutterable, unuttered, unwhisperable, unworthy, vague, vagueness, velvet darkness, vicious, vile, villainous, visionless, weak, weariful, wearisome, weary, wicked, without remorse, without shame, wrong
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