Dark Ages

Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search
See also: dark ages


Alternative forms[edit]


The phrase appears in writing of the English Reformation by Richard Sibbes (1620) and by George Abbot (1624), the archbishop of Canterbury. Both authors use it to refer to the period of papal supremacy before the Reformation. The earliest citation in Oxford English Dictionary is dated 1687. Use is specific to English therefore not likely to be from Latin.

Proper noun[edit]

the Dark Ages

  1. (see usage notes) The period of European history encompassing (roughly) 476–1000 CE.
    Synonym: Early Middle Ages
  2. (Ancient Greece) The Greek Dark Ages (c. 1100–750 BCE).
  3. The dark ages of Cambodia (c. 1450–1863).
  4. The dark ages of Laos (c. 1707–1893).
  5. (astronomy) The Dark Ages, 380 thousand to about 1 billion years after the Big Bang.
  6. (figuratively) Any relatively primitive period of time.
    • 1992, Steven Davis, Connectionism: Theory and Practice, Oxford University Press, →ISBN, page 84:
      It is clear that many linguists view connectionism as a revival of the radical empiricist approach that dominated the dark ages in psychology—the behaviourist era.
    • 2000 March 6, Network World, volume 17, number 10, page 49:
      Yes, DSL is a better, faster and less expensive way to access the Internet. Unfortunately, it's saddled with back-office systems that belong in the Dark Ages and politics that may require regulatory oversight.
    • 2001, Lawrence Lessig, The future of ideas: the fate of the commons in a connected world[1], →ISBN, page 104:
      Put yourself back in the dark ages, the time before the Internet took off–say, the 1970s–and ask: What was the environment for creativity then?
    • 2017, BioWare, Mass Effect: Andromeda (Science Fiction), Redwood City: Electronic Arts, OCLC 1261299044, PC, scene: Angara: Lost Colony Worlds Codex entry:
      The Scourge disaster sent angaran civilization into a dark age. Records of their golden era of technological advancement and proliferation through space only survived as oral history, making it difficult to separate truth from legend. Nevertheless, angara believe they had colonized numerous planets across the cluster before the Scourge's devastation left them cut off from each other for centuries.
    • 2019 June 14, Taylor Swift and Joel Little (lyrics and music), “You Need to Calm Down”, in Lover[2], performed by Taylor Swift:
      Sunshine on the street at the parade / But you would rather be in the dark ages / Making that sign / Must've taken all night

Usage notes[edit]

For the period of European history, academic historians now prefer the term Early Middle Ages.


Further reading[edit]