So far in my studies I've come across three words for darkness: 暗がり, 暗闇, 暗黒.

Is there any difference in meaning/nuance between these three words? This question is related, but I don't think it answers my question.

1 Answer 1


The following thesaurus entry is relevant.

As it says, 暗がり is mainly a dark place while 暗闇 is the state of darkness. For example, whet it blackouts, it becomes 暗闇 but never 暗がり. 暗がり is usually used in contrast to normal (non-dark) places and often implies that people wouldn't notice (what's going on in) the place. 暗がり is a path between buildings, where there is no light, for example.

Also, 暗闇に包まれる means being surrounded by the darkness and 暗がりに包まれる does not work. In this sense, 暗闇 is darkness itself while 暗がり is always a place.

暗黒 is rarely used in daily speech other than in a figurative sense hopeless (大辞泉 #2,#3). It is more often about time than space. Kind of oldish, 暗黒の時代 can be used to describe any time which the speaker finds hopeless. 暗黒の国 sounds like an empire ruled by Satan in some sort of fiction. It still has some connotation of color - even if an anti-America person thinks the US is hopeless, they wouldn't describe the US as 暗黒 because it looks (to me) too colorful for that. Maybe it could work for North Korea (a subjective opinion).

  • 1
    +1: I would like to just add that unlike the other two 暗黒 itself doesn't refer to a place (or time). It's extreme blackness.
    – aguijonazo
    Dec 16, 2023 at 23:10

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