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From benight +‎ -ed.[1]



benighted (comparative more benighted, superlative most benighted)

  1. (obsolete or poetic) Overtaken by night; especially of a traveller, etc.: caught out by oncoming night before reaching one's destination.
  2. (obsolete) Plunged into darkness.
    • 1600, “The Sheepheards Sorrow, Being Disdained in Loue”, in Englands Helicon, London: Printed by I. R[oberts] for Iohn Flasket, [], OCLC 837537973:
      Rob the Spheare of lines vnited, / Make a ſuddaine voide in nature: / Force the day to be benighted, / Reaue the cauſe of time and creature.
    • 1779, [Martin] Madan, compiler, “Hymn LXXVII. Epiphany. Isaiah ix. 2.”, in A Collection of Psalms and Hymns, Extracted from Various Authors, [], 9th edition, London: Printed by Henry Cock; [], OCLC 723529312, stanza II, page 78:
      Still we wait for thine Appearing, / Life and Joy thy Beams impart, / Chaſing all our Fears, and chearing / Ev'ry poor benighted Heart: [...]
  3. (figuratively) Lacking education or knowledge; unenlightened; also, lacking morality; immoral, unscrupulous.
    Antonym: unbenighted
    • a. 1800, Henry Wheaton, quoting Patrick Henry, “Sketch of the History of International Law”, in Elements of International Law: With a Sketch of the History of the Science, Philadelphia, Pa.: Carey, Lea & Blanchard, published 1836, OCLC 837432324, page 30:
      [I]t would be difficult to name any writers who have contributed so much to promote the progress of civilization as "these illustrious authors—these friends of human nature—these kind instructers of human errors and frailties—these benevolent spirits, who held up the torch of science to a benighted world."
    • 1742, [Edward Young], “Night the Ninth and Last. The Consolation. Containing, among Other Things, I. A Moral Survey of the Nocturnal Heavens. II. A Night-Address to the Deity. []”, in The Complaint: Or, Night-Thoughts on Life, Death, & Immortality, London: [] [Samuel Richardson] for A[ndrew] Millar [], and R[obert] Dodsley [], published 1750, OCLC 753424981, page 317:
      Where art thou, poor benighted Traveller! / The Stars will light thee; tho' the Moon ſhould fail. / Where art Thou, more benighted! more aſtray! / In Ways immoral? The Stars call thee back; / And, if obey'd their Counſel, ſet thee right.
    • 1790, William Smith, A Sermon, on Temporal and Spiritual Salvation: Delivered in Christ-Church, Philadelphia, before the Pennsylvania Society of the Cincinnati. [], Philadelphia, Pa.: From the press of T[homas] Dobson, OCLC 753659387, page 19:
      A radiant morn of light and happineſs then dawned upon this benighted land, yielding the joyous earneſt of a future reſplendent day.
    • 1832, Thomas Smith; John O[verton] Choules, “[History of the Missions of the United Brethren, or Moravians.] Mission to Greenland.”, in The Origin and History of Missions; Containing Faithful Accounts of the Voyages, Travels, Labors, and Successes of the Various Missionaries, who have been Sent Forth to Evangelize the Heathen; [] In Two Volumes, volume I, Boston, Mass.: Published by S. Walker, and Lincoln & Edmands; sold also by Crocker & Brewster, and Pierce & Parker, OCLC 1077940509, page 44, column 1:
      [Y]et the recollection of the impressions which had been made upon his heart, through their instrumentality, inspired them with renewed zeal in their work, and led them to cry mightily unto the Lord that his great salvation might even yet appear to the benighted barbarians by whom they were surrounded.
    • 1854, Arthur Pendennis [pseudonym; William Makepeace Thackeray], “Colonel Newcome’s Wild Oats”, in The Newcomes: Memoirs of a Most Respectable Family, volume I, London: Bradbury and Evans, [], OCLC 809623158, page 15:
      [T]o attend to the interests of the enslaved negro; to awaken the benighted Hottentot to a sense of truth; to convert Jews, Turks, Infidels, and Papists; [...] all these things had this woman to do, and for near fourscore years she fought her fight womanfully: [...]
    • 1855 December – 1857 June, Charles Dickens, “In which a Great Patriotic Conference is Holden”, in Little Dorrit, London: Bradbury and Evans, [], published 1857, OCLC 83401042, book the second (Riches), page 417:
      All people knew (or thought they knew) that he had made himself immensely rich; and, for that reason alone, prostrated themselves before him, more degradedly and less excusably than the darkest savage creeps out of his hole in the ground to propitiate, in some log or reptile, the Deity of his benighted soul.
    • 1974, Tan Kheng Yeang, “The Problem of Marriage”, in Sauce of Life: A Novel, Penang, Malaysia: Sun Printers, OCLC 963051785; republished [Bloomington, Ind.]: Trafford Publishing, 2 April 2012, →ISBN, page 11:
      Here he bestowed a look of sublime wisdom on his sadly benighted son; [...]
    • 1987, Don Graham, “Western Movies since 1960”, in A Literary History of the American West: [], Fort Worth, Tex.: Texas Christian University Press, →ISBN, part 3 (Rediscovering the West), section II (Present Trends), page 1256:
      It seems quite possible, however, that the roots of the Western's decline lie deeper than in the likes and animadversions of benighted critics. The Western has lost its audience.
  4. (figuratively, obsolete) Difficult to understand; abstruse, obscure.
    • 1647, Theodore de la Guard [pseudonym; Nathaniel Ward], The Simple Cobler of Aggawam in America. [], London: [] J[ohn] D[ever] & R[obert] I[bbitson] for Stephen Bowtell, [], OCLC 560031272; The Simple Cobler of Aggawam in America (Force’s Collection of Historical Tracts; vol. III, no. 8), 5th edition, Boston, Mass.: [] Daniel Henchman, []; [Washington, D.C.: W. Q. Force], 1713 (1844 printing), OCLC 800593321, page 16:
      [O]thers, held very good men, are at a dead stand, not knowing what to do or say; and are therefore called Seekers, looking for new Nuntio's from Christ, to assoil these benighted questions, and to give new Orders for new Churches.

Usage notes[edit]

Derived terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.



  1. simple past tense and past participle of benight


  1. ^ benighted, adj.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, 1887; “benighted, adj.”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–present.