from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • transitive & intransitive verb To make or become bright or brighter.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To grow bright or more bright; become less dark or gloomy: literally or figuratively.
  • To make bright or brighter in any manner; shed light on; make to shine; increase the luster of.
  • To dispel gloom from; cheer; make gay or cheerful: as, to brighten prospects.
  • To make illustrious or more distinguished; heighten the splendor of; add luster to.
  • To make acute or witty; sharpen the faculties of.
  • To add brilliancy to the colors of (prints, etc.), by boiling them in a solution of soda.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb To make bright or brighter; to make to shine; to increase the luster of; to give a brighter hue to.
  • transitive verb To make illustrious, or more distinguished; to add luster or splendor to.
  • transitive verb To improve or relieve by dispelling gloom or removing that which obscures and darkens; to shed light upon; to make cheerful.
  • transitive verb To make acute or witty; to enliven.
  • intransitive verb To grow bright, or more bright; to become less dark or gloomy; to clear up; to become bright or cheerful.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • verb transitive To make bright or brighter in color
  • verb transitive To add luster or splendor to
  • verb transitive (figuratively) To make more cheerful and pleasant; to enliven
  • verb intransitive To grow bright, or more bright in color; to clear up
  • verb intransitive To become brighter or more cheerful in mood

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • verb become clear
  • verb make lighter or brighter


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Anglo-Saxon beorhtan. bright +‎ -en


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  • I've never before seen this use of "brighten" to mean something like ameliorate:

    "They drank linden tea to brighten a cold or tame the nerves." The Zookeeper's Wife, pg 21

    I like the synonym "ameliorate" because this use of brighten was in the context of linden honey and its uses.

    March 31, 2009