from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Bare or blunt: "His language has become increasingly stark, to the point of sounding strident” ( Robert Pear).
  • adj. Complete or utter; extreme: stark poverty; a stark contrast.
  • adj. Harsh; grim: "faced with that stark future” ( Robert C. McFarlane). "[They] found it hard to accept such a stark portrait of unrelieved failure” ( W. Bruce Lincoln).
  • adv. Utterly; entirely: stark raving mad.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Hard, firm; obdurate.
  • adj. Severe; violent; fierce (now usually in describing the weather).
  • adj. Strong; vigorous; powerful.
  • adj. Stiff, rigid.
  • adj. Hard in appearance; barren, desolate.
  • adj. Complete, absolute, full.
  • adv. starkly; entirely, absolutely
  • v. To stiffen.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Stiff; rigid.
  • adj. Complete; absolute; full; perfect; entire.
  • adj. Strong; vigorous; powerful.
  • adj. Severe; violent; fierce.
  • adj. Mere; sheer; gross; entire; downright.
  • adv. Wholly; entirely; absolutely; quite.
  • transitive v. To stiffen.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Stiff; rigid, as in death.
  • Stubborn; stiff; severe.
  • Stout; stalwart; strong; powerful.
  • Great; long.
  • Entire; perfect; utter; downright; sheer; pure; mere.
  • Wholly; entirely; absolutely: used with a few particular adjectives, as stark dead, stark blind, stark drunk, stark mad, stark naked, rarely with other adjectives.
  • To make stark, stiff, or rigid, as in death.
  • Naked; bare.

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

  • adj. devoid of any qualifications or disguise or adornment
  • adv. completely
  • adj. without qualification; used informally as (often pejorative) intensifiers
  • adj. complete or extreme
  • adj. providing no shelter or sustenance
  • adj. severely simple


Middle English, stiff, severe, strong, from Old English stearc.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English stark, starc, from Old English stearc, starc ("stiff, rigid, obstinate, stern, severe, hard, harsh, rough, strong, violent, impetuous, not soft, not bending, unyielding, stiff-necked, attended with hardship, vehement, having the mind strengthened, stouthearted, courageous, determined, bold, brave, cruel"), from Proto-Germanic *starkaz, *starkuz (“stiff, strong”), from Proto-Indo-European *(s)terg- (“rigid, stiff”). Cognate with Eastern Frisian sterc ("strong"), Dutch sterk ("strong"), Low German sterk ("strong"), German stark ("strong"), Danish stærk ("strong"), Swedish stark ("strong"), Icelandic sterkur ("strong"). Related to starch. (Wiktionary)
From Middle English starken, from Old English stearcian ("to stiffen, become hard, grow stiff or hard"), from Proto-Germanic *starkōnan, *starkēnan (“to stiffen, become hard”), from Proto-Indo-European *(s)terg- (“rigid, stiff”). Cognate with German erstarken ("to strengthen"). (Wiktionary)



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  • A contranym: both fullness ("completeness, exemplary") and emptiness ("lacking").

    August 2, 2008