Definition of stark in US English:



  • 1Severe or bare in appearance or outline.

    ‘the ridge formed a stark silhouette against the sky’
    • ‘Architects are proposing to soften the buildings' stark functional appearance using metal, glass and canopies.’
    • ‘Empire State presents a stark black silhouette of the famous landmark against a featureless white sky with an ominous black cloud or shadow impinging.’
    • ‘At the riverside, hawthorns, oaks, beeches and other trees stand stark and bare.’
    • ‘Its stark outline on the abandoned battlefield offers some protection.’
    • ‘The figures are life-size cut-outs, silhouetted against the stark white walls, which gives them a three-dimensional sculptural quality.’
    • ‘The artist Alessandro Raho usually drapes his subjects in theatrical clothes but with Dame Judy he has opted for a simple white jacket against a stark white background.’
    • ‘The kitchen and bathroom are stark white, very simple and linear, but it creates a nice balance.’
    • ‘Yet despite this, his shots are stark, bare and almost devoid of emotion.’
    • ‘But all around the edge, there were giant oaks and maples, stark, bare and black, and a few pines, as green as ever.’
    • ‘I reckon we have removed about 15 years' growth all at once and the result is a rather stark wall of bare twigs and branches.’
    • ‘In Germany huge swathes of the Black Forest died, leaving the stark outlines of leafless conifers in place of the formerly rich vegetation.’
    • ‘The room was as extravagant and stuffed with furniture as the hall had been stark and bare.’
    • ‘The fence will look truly stark and bare when it's gone, so I shall plant three or four vigorous climbing jasmines along it, water, and retire to a safe distance.’
    • ‘Having a patio garden calls for a bit of ingenuity so a well positioned tub of flowers can soften a very stark and bare corner.’
    • ‘Gray chairs and a dull gray carpet give the visiting area a stark, lifeless appearance.’
    • ‘She's done so through her now trademark silhouettes, large black paper cut-outs set against stark white walls.’
    • ‘The film itself has a more stark and severe look through much of it than the original, but it looks terrific here.’
    • ‘Some of the newer houses and their roadside walls need plant screening to overcome a sometimes stark appearance.’
    • ‘Then the trees finish and ahead, rising to the skyline, is a stark, beautiful and bare valley clad in rough grasses.’
    • ‘The image is almost stark, with the bare stone floor and walls, the simple sweeping plane of the ceiling above, and that remarkable suspended coil of steps.’
    sharply delineated, sharp, sharply defined, well focused, crisp, distinct, obvious, evident, clear, clear-cut, graphic, striking
    desolate, bare, barren, arid, vacant, empty, forsaken, godforsaken, bleak, dreary, gloomy, sombre, depressing, cheerless, joyless, uninviting, miserable, grim, harsh, oppressive, merciless
    austere, severe, bleak, plain, simple, bare, unadorned, unembellished, undecorated, uncomfortable
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    1. 1.1 Unpleasantly or sharply clear; impossible to avoid.
      ‘his position on civil rights is in stark contrast to that of his liberal opponent’
      ‘the stark reality of life for millions of young people’
      • ‘Madhu Oberoi's acceptance of her son's career is in stark contrast to Sarada Nair's initial reaction on learning of her teenage son's desire to join the Armed Forces.’
      • ‘He outlines the stark consequences of industrial relations breakdown, and asks the negotiators to use the holiday break to reflect.’
      • ‘That was the stark choice outlined by City of York council leader Steve Galloway last week when details of next year's central Government grant to councils were announced.’
      • ‘His loyalty to his party is in stark contrast to the actions of his old colleague Brian Sedgemore, the former MP for Hackney South who chose the middle of the election to defect to the Liberal Democrats.’
      • ‘In stark contrast to Copi's consciously sub-literary chaos, Jean Rhys's exquisite novel Wide Sargasso Sea is a profound and thought-provoking artwork.’
      • ‘Yet the stark reality of statistics, and the facts themselves, reveal a quite different story to the one we have come to accept.’
      • ‘However, the ecstatic reception he was given when he touched down at the New Tokyo International Airport in Narita, east of Tokyo, was in stark contrast to his visit to Japan in 1980.’
      • ‘In fact, in stark contrast to his colleagues in the game, he is a model professional who does not smoke, drink or abuse women.’
      • ‘This is in stark contrast to France, which has taken a color-blind approach to immigration, with newcomers expected to adapt to the culture of the host nation.’
      • ‘Dr Hope said on Easter Sunday people were celebrating the triumph of the Resurrection, in stark contrast to the world today which was in ‘turmoil.’’
      • ‘Taoiseach Bertie Ahern's claim in the Dáil that the February marchers were in agreement with government policy is in stark contrast to opinion poll evidence.’
      • ‘His self-sacrifice and idealism are also in stark contrast to the corruption and cynicism evident in modern Ireland.’
      • ‘A battery of psychological tests administered to me at this time tells the story of my mental status in a stark manner that clearly outlines my assets and deficits.’
      • ‘In fact there was a near 100 per cent pass rate in maths and biology, marking these results as being in stark contrast to the failure rates in other schools around the country.’
      • ‘Although slightly worn looking and grubby, they were a stark contrast to the appearance of the slaves they watched quietly shuffle past.’
      • ‘Newcomer Jamie Bell plays Billy with skill and feeling, and the scenes where he vents his frustration through the medium of dance are thrilling and in stark contrast to the film's shadowy backdrop.’
      • ‘But Dr Fox said the decision to release the patients' details stood in stark contrast to Mr Blair's insistence on protecting the medical confidentiality of his own family.’
      • ‘This is in stark contrast to Abbott who in a relatively short life has been through university in Australia and overseas, the seminary, business, journalism and politics.’
      • ‘His evidence in chief stood in stark contrast to his evidence on cross-examination.’
      • ‘In stark contrast to the downbeat results from Kingfisher and Next last week, City analysts expect Tesco to report strong pre-tax profits of £938m in the first half.’
      blunt, bald, bare, simple, straightforward, basic, plain, unadorned, unembellished, unvarnished, harsh, grim
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  • 2attributive Complete; sheer.

    ‘he came running back in stark terror’
    • ‘I fell, my horse kicking and eyes rolling in stark terror.’
    • ‘She's a master of surprise, able in the wink of an eye to transport the reader from tranquil normality to stark terror.’
    • ‘I have never seen such stark terror on a man's face.’
    • ‘Traditionally the life of a soldier involves long stretches of boredom punctuated by brief and seemingly unending moments of stark terror.’
    • ‘As she drew the curtain, she revealed a sight that sent stark terror down my spine.’
    • ‘A look of stark terror comes over Ambrosius's face.’
    • ‘Even total depression is preferable to complete stark terror.’
    • ‘Eliza stared up at the older man who was standing by, stark terror and fear in her eyes.’
    • ‘I took in my new surroundings with considerable apprehension, all right - stark terror, which turned quickly to surprise.’
    • ‘Nevertheless, the thought of having my words printed for anyone to read sent stark terror into my heart.’
    • ‘The lion made no answer, the stark terror in his eyes saying everything that needed to be said.’
    • ‘It has given me countless days of joy, a few hours of frustration, a couple minutes of stark terror, and it was even responsible for introducing me to my wife.’
    • ‘This morning, I trudged through the knee-high drifts of wolves to bring you a picture which sums up the stark terror facing this country.’
    • ‘And the moment with the discarded toys coming to life hits with stark terror and reminds us, if only for a moment, of the swarming mummies in Spielberg's great Raiders of the Lost Ark.’
    • ‘The sheer excitement, energy, and also stark terror of that moment must have been nearly overwhelming.’
    • ‘Then, as a group, they cried out in stark terror and rushed away.’
    • ‘One can only imagine the stark terror experienced by these young people during this horrendous event.’
    • ‘She turned her face to the voice, to find an expression of stark terror on her crewman's countenance.’
    • ‘But when Polly - when Polly came out of the window, it was - it was just stark terror on her face.’
    • ‘Christian now looked torn between amusement and stark terror.’
    sheer, utter, complete, absolute, total, pure, perfect, positive, downright, out-and-out, outright
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    1. 2.1rare Completely naked.
      • ‘Slowly..they began to disrobe themselves..till they stood before stark as the day they were born.’
  • 3literary, archaic Stiff, rigid, or incapable of movement.

    ‘a human body lying stiff and stark by the stream’
    • ‘It mixed stylised, stark movement, rhythmic ensemble sequences and wonderful characterisation.’
    • ‘A number of babies - I should say about thirty - were laid out there stiff and stark.’
    1. 3.1 Physically strong or powerful.
      ‘the dragoons were stark fellows’
      • ‘Many were powerful, stark and moving but none so beautiful as Yervant Gianikian and Angela Ricci Lucchi's films.’
      • ‘I had never heard a voice like his, or lyrics so stark and powerful.’
      • ‘The similarities between the two men are stark - the same strong jaw, angular features and receding hairline.’
      • ‘Powerful and stark, Scottsboro reminds us of the continuing impact and importance of our country's tradition of dissent.’
      • ‘Plante's memoir, American Ghosts, is no less powerful and no less stark.’
      strong, vigorous, sturdy, tough, powerful, powerfully built, solidly built, as strong as a horse, as strong as a ox, muscular, sinewy, rugged, hardy, strapping, brawny, burly, husky
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  • stark naked

    • Completely naked.

      • ‘Part-time amateur actors will be taking to the stage tonight in their latest production - stark naked.’
      • ‘It's funny how in periods of extreme stress most people seem to have one particular recurring theme in their dreams, it may be dreams about falling, about losing someone they love, or walking down the high street stark naked.’
      • ‘Each worships different deities, with distinctive dress, although some - the naga sadus - go around stark naked.’
      • ‘To play Geoffrey Chaucer in A Knight's Tale, he made his entrance stark naked.’
      • ‘Muriel - ‘tiny and dark’ and stark naked - agreed.’
      • ‘Only a few weeks ago a London jury acquitted a man on a charge of outraging public decency even though he cheerfully admitted that he walked around stark naked, and appeared thus in court.’
      • ‘He knocked at the 85-year-old woman's door at her home in Sheepridge, Huddersfield, stark naked claiming he had been mugged and his clothes stolen.’
      • ‘After a while you can spot criminals so easily that they might as well be stark naked.’
      • ‘When I found it, I discovered I was standing in the corridor outside Nina's room, stark naked, with the need to relieve myself becoming more urgent.’
      • ‘He further noticed, there was a guy who would sit in his room with the door open, stark naked, eating brownies, while standing on his head.’
      completely, totally, utterly, absolutely, downright, dead, entirely, wholly, fully, quite, altogether, simply, thoroughly, truly
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  • stark raving (or staring) mad

    • informal Completely crazy.

      • ‘Sometimes I look at something, and suddenly I'm more convinced than ever that the world has gone absolutely stark raving mad.’
      • ‘If you lived next to some of these sites you would go stark staring mad.’
      • ‘‘The fertility drugs made me feel as if I were stark raving mad,’ Christine remembers.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, Lawrence O'Donnell - in the true spirit of Kerry supporters everywhere - has gone stark raving mad.’
      • ‘The world of advertising has gone stark staring mad.’
      • ‘Assuming, if you will, that I'm not stark raving mad, there clearly has been some sort of change in the way these sorts of comics are written and drawn.’
      • ‘I swear if I had to stay home every day that I would go stark raving mad.’
      • ‘If I don't see Julia soon, I'll go stark staring mad.’
      • ‘The government appears to have gone stark raving mad.’
      • ‘They drove the Dutch stark staring mad over tulips.’
      completely, totally, utterly, absolutely, downright, dead, entirely, wholly, fully, quite, altogether, simply, thoroughly, truly
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Old English stearc ‘unyielding, severe’, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch sterk and German stark ‘strong’.