Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


adjective yel·low \ˈye-(ˌ)lō, dial ˈye-lər or ˈya-\

Simple Definition of yellow

  • : having the color of the sun or of ripe lemons

  • : afraid in a way that makes you unable to do what is right or expected

  • : containing news that is meant to shock people and that is not true or is only partly true

Full Definition of yellow

  1. 1 a :  of the color yellow b :  become yellowish through age, disease, or discoloration :  sallow c sometimes offensive :  having a yellowish or light brown complexion or skin

  2. 2 a :  featuring sensational or scandalous items or ordinary news sensationally distorted <yellow journalism> b :  mean, cowardly

yel·low·ish play \ˈye-lə-wish\ adjective

Examples of yellow

  1. He was too yellow to stand up and fight.

  2. <you'll come with us into the cave, unless you're yellow>

Origin of yellow

Middle English yelwe, yelow, from Old English geolu; akin to Old High German gelo yellow, Latin helvus light bay, Greek chlōros greenish yellow, Sanskrit hari yellowish

First Known Use: before 12th century



noun yel·low

Simple Definition of yellow

  • : the color of the sun or of ripe lemons

Full Definition of yellow

  1. 1 :  something yellow or marked by a yellow color: as a sometimes offensive :  a person having yellowish or light brown skin b :  the yolk of an egg

  2. 2 a :  a color whose hue resembles that of ripe lemons or sunflowers or is that of the portion of the spectrum lying between green and orange b :  a pigment or dye that colors yellow

  3. 3 plural :  jaundice

  4. 4 plural but sing in constr :  any of several plant diseases caused especially by phytoplasmas and marked by yellowing of the foliage and stunting

Examples of yellow

  1. The bridesmaids were dressed in yellow.

  2. a room decorated in yellows and greens

Before 12th Century

First Known Use of yellow

before 12th century

Rhymes with yellow



verb yel·low

Simple Definition of yellow

  • : to become yellow or to cause (something) to become yellow

Full Definition of yellow

  1. intransitive verb
  2. :  to become or turn yellow

  3. transitive verb
  4. :  to make yellow :  give a yellow tinge or color to <yellowed by time>

Examples of yellow

  1. The paper had yellowed with age.

  2. The leaves were yellowed by disease.

15th Century

First Known Use of yellow

15th century


geographical name yel·low

Definition of Yellow

  1. — see huang

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up yellow? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


February 5, 2016

bread traditionally eaten on Shabbat

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?

kittly-benders spindrift duvet pince-nez
Name That Thing

10 quick questions: hear them, spell them, and see how your skills compare to the crowd.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.