Definition of stark in English:


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  • 1Severe or bare in appearance or outline.

    ‘the ridge formed a stark silhouette against the sky’
    • ‘The figures are life-size cut-outs, silhouetted against the stark white walls, which gives them a three-dimensional sculptural quality.’
    • ‘The kitchen and bathroom are stark white, very simple and linear, but it creates a nice balance.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In Germany huge swathes of the Black Forest died, leaving the stark outlines of leafless conifers in place of the formerly rich vegetation.’
    • ‘Architects are proposing to soften the buildings' stark functional appearance using metal, glass and canopies.’
    • ‘Some of the newer houses and their roadside walls need plant screening to overcome a sometimes stark appearance.’
    • ‘Yet despite this, his shots are stark, bare and almost devoid of emotion.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Then the trees finish and ahead, rising to the skyline, is a stark, beautiful and bare valley clad in rough grasses.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘But all around the edge, there were giant oaks and maples, stark, bare and black, and a few pines, as green as ever.’
    • ‘The film itself has a more stark and severe look through much of it than the original, but it looks terrific here.’
    • ‘Gray chairs and a dull gray carpet give the visiting area a stark, lifeless appearance.’
    • ‘The room was as extravagant and stuffed with furniture as the hall had been stark and bare.’
    • ‘Its stark outline on the abandoned battlefield offers some protection.’
    • ‘At the riverside, hawthorns, oaks, beeches and other trees stand stark and bare.’
    • ‘Empire State presents a stark black silhouette of the famous landmark against a featureless white sky with an ominous black cloud or shadow impinging.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘She's done so through her now trademark silhouettes, large black paper cut-outs set against stark white walls.’
    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. 1.1Unpleasantly or sharply clear; impossible to avoid.
      ‘his position is in stark contrast to that of his opponent’
      • ‘ the stark reality of life for millions of young people’
      • ‘In fact, in stark contrast to his colleagues in the game, he is a model professional who does not smoke, drink or abuse women.’
      • ‘His evidence in chief stood in stark contrast to his evidence on cross-examination.’
      • ‘Yet the stark reality of statistics, and the facts themselves, reveal a quite different story to the one we have come to accept.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Although slightly worn looking and grubby, they were a stark contrast to the appearance of the slaves they watched quietly shuffle past.’
      • ‘He outlines the stark consequences of industrial relations breakdown, and asks the negotiators to use the holiday break to reflect.’
      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’
    • ‘Even total depression is preferable to complete stark terror.’
    • ‘The sheer excitement, energy, and also stark terror of that moment must have been nearly overwhelming.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘But when Polly - when Polly came out of the window, it was - it was just stark terror on her face.’
    • ‘She's a master of surprise, able in the wink of an eye to transport the reader from tranquil normality to stark terror.’
    • ‘A look of stark terror comes over Ambrosius's face.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I took in my new surroundings with considerable apprehension, all right - stark terror, which turned quickly to surprise.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I fell, my horse kicking and eyes rolling in stark terror.’
    • ‘Christian now looked torn between amusement and stark terror.’
    • ‘Then, as a group, they cried out in stark terror and rushed away.’
    • ‘As she drew the curtain, she revealed a sight that sent stark terror down my spine.’
    • ‘Nevertheless, the thought of having my words printed for anyone to read sent stark terror into my heart.’
    • ‘She turned her face to the voice, to find an expression of stark terror on her crewman's countenance.’
    • ‘The lion made no answer, the stark terror in his eyes saying everything that needed to be said.’
    • ‘One can only imagine the stark terror experienced by these young people during this horrendous event.’
    • ‘Eliza stared up at the older man who was standing by, stark terror and fear in her eyes.’
    sheer, utter, complete, absolute, total, pure, perfect, positive, downright, out-and-out, outright
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    1. 2.1 rare Completely naked.
      • ‘Slowly..they began to disrobe themselves..till they stood before stark as the day they were born.’
  • 3 archaic, literary 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. 3.1Physically strong or powerful.
      ‘the dragoons were stark fellows’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Many were powerful, stark and moving but none so beautiful as Yervant Gianikian and Angela Ricci Lucchi's films.’
      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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/stärk/ /stɑrk/


    stark naked
    • Completely 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘After a while you can spot criminals so easily that they might as well be stark naked.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Part-time amateur actors will be taking to the stage tonight in their latest production - stark naked.’
    stark raving mad
    • Completely crazy.

      • ‘for heaven's sake Bruce, have you gone stark raving mad?’
      • ‘If you lived next to some of these sites you would go stark staring mad.’
      • ‘The world of advertising has gone stark staring mad.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, Lawrence O'Donnell - in the true spirit of Kerry supporters everywhere - has gone stark raving 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.’
      • ‘Sometimes I look at something, and suddenly I'm more convinced than ever that the world has gone absolutely stark raving mad.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘They drove the Dutch stark staring mad over tulips.’
      • ‘‘The fertility drugs made me feel as if I were stark raving mad,’ Christine remembers.’
      • ‘The government appears to have gone stark raving mad.’


Old English stearc ‘unyielding, severe’, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch sterk and German stark ‘strong’.