noun, often attributive
col·​or | \ ˈkə-lər How to pronounce color (audio) \
plural colors

Definition of color

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a phenomenon of light (such as red, brown, pink, or gray) or visual perception that enables one to differentiate otherwise identical objects
b(1) : the aspect of the appearance of objects and light sources that may be described in terms of hue, lightness, and saturation (see saturation sense 4) for objects and hue, brightness, and saturation for light sources the changing color of the sky also : a specific combination of hue, saturation, and lightness or brightness comes in six colors
(2) : a color other than and as contrasted with black, white, or gray
c colors plural : clothing of a bright (see bright entry 1 sense 4) color : clothing that is neither dark nor light in color Wash your colors separately from your darks and lights.
2 : something used to give color : pigment
3a : two or more hues employed in a medium of presentation movies in color
b : the use or combination of colors
4 : skin pigmentation other than and especially darker than what is considered characteristic of people typically defined as white (white entry 1 sense 2a) a person of color
5 : complexion tint:
a : the tint characteristic of good health … sat looking at her with wistful eyes, trying to see signs of hope in the faint color on Beth's cheeks.— Louisa May Alcott
b : blush
6a : an identifying badge, pennant, or flag usually used in plural a ship sailing under Swedish colors
b : colored clothing distinguishing one as a member of a particular group or representative of a particular person or thing usually used in plural a jockey wearing the colors of the stablewore his college colors to the game
7a : character, nature usually used in plural showed himself in his true colors
b colors plural : position as to a question or course of action : stand … the USSR changed neither its colors nor its stripes during all of this …— Norman Mailer
8a : vividness or variety of effects of language … that color and force of style which were later to make him outstanding among American editors …— Arthur Krock
9 : vitality, interest The play had a good deal of color to it.
10 : analysis of game action or strategy, statistics and background information on participants, and often anecdotes provided by a sportscaster to give variety and interest to the broadcast of a game or contest a color commentator
11a : an outward often deceptive show : appearance His story has the color of truth.
b : a legal claim to or appearance of a right, authority, or office
c : a pretense offered as justification : pretext the color for his action
d : an appearance of authenticity : plausibility lending color to this notion
12 colors plural
a : a naval or nautical salute to a flag being hoisted or lowered
13 : the quality of timbre in music the color and richness of the cello
14 : a small particle of gold in a gold miner's pan after washing
15 : a hypothetical property of quarks that differentiates each type into three forms having a distinct role in binding quarks together


colored; coloring; colors

Definition of color (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to give color to
b : to change the color of (as by dyeing, staining, or painting) She colors her hair.
2 : to change as if by dyeing or painting: such as
a : influence "The lives of most of us have been colored by politics … "— Christine Weston
b : misrepresent, distort a highly colored version of the facts
c : gloss, excuse color a lie
3 : characterize, label … call it progress; color it inevitable with shades of job security— C. E. Price

intransitive verb

1 : to fill in a shape or picture outlined on a piece of paper using markers, crayons, colored pencils, etc. His granddaughter Fernanda sat at his side, coloring with crayons.— Charles Montgomery
2 : to take on color specifically : blush She colored at the mention of his name.

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from color


colorer \ ˈkə-​lər-​ər How to pronounce color (audio) \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for color

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of color in a Sentence

Noun The color of blood is red. What color are your eyes? What color paint shall we use? Blue and green are my favorite colors. The pillows are all different colors. The room needs more color. In early summer the garden is full of color. She added color to her outfit with a bright scarf. His eyes were bluish-green in color. She's using a new lip color. Verb We colored the water with red ink. The children were busy coloring in their coloring books. My nephew colored a picture for me. The child colored the sky blue and the sun yellow.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Just seven of the 30 NBA head coaches are people of color. Alex Reimer, Forbes, "Why Unpaid Internships In Sports Media Are Especially Problematic," 3 Mar. 2021 Similar trends were found among Arizona's older population, as many low-income seniors of color have found getting the vaccine to be an especially difficult if not insurmountable task. Danielle Woodward, The Arizona Republic, "Arizona just changed who can get the COVID-19 vaccine. We help answer your questions," 3 Mar. 2021 The first part of the strategy relies on mass vaccination sites, like the Reggie Lewis Center at Roxbury Community College, where half of the appointments are being set aside for community groups serving immigrants and residents of color. Globe Staff,, "Boston neighborhoods hit hardest by virus have lowest vaccination rates," 3 Mar. 2021 This fragmentation poses a challenge to a movie industry that has historically stuck to a handful of stereotypical narratives when telling stories about people of color. Shirley Li, The Atlantic, "The Invisible Stars of Asian Movies," 3 Mar. 2021 Charlotte’s James Borrego, who is Mexican-American, and Miami’s Erik Spoelstra, who is Filipino-American, are the league’s other two coaches of color. Marc Stein, New York Times, "James Harden Is Headed Back to Houston. Too Bad He’s Not Staying.," 3 Mar. 2021 The nursing home scandal centers on the harm done to elderly residents, but concerns, too, the care workers, who, disproportionately, are women of color. Melissa Gira Grant, The New Republic, "The Sexism at the Heart of Cuomo’s Boss State," 3 Mar. 2021 Until the Civil Rights era, women of color were typically confined to the domestic-service and agriculture sectors. Washington Post, "Fewer Americans are earning less than $15 an hour, but Black and Hispanic women make up a bigger share of them," 3 Mar. 2021 The group said many of the new gun owners were women, Black, Indigenous and people of color. Jenny Berg, Star Tribune, "Handgun permits surge in St. Cloud area, state," 3 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb McConnell's decision will no doubt color his legacy. Arkansas Online, "GOP's McConnell: Close call but he'll vote to acquit Trump," 14 Feb. 2021 There is bunting, flags and garland sufficient to color a neighborhood in Rex purple, green and gold, and enough plush Rex crowns and small, stuffed Beouf Gras toys to weave through all the garland. Sheila Grissett | Staff Writer,, "King of Carnival parades across a Covington porch," 30 Jan. 2021 The catch, though, is that the fruits must already have begun to color up. oregonlive, "Why are fruits on young persimmon tree so small? Ask an expert," 21 Nov. 2020 Reinhardt saw friends and clients contemplating on social media about whether to cut or color their own hair. al, "‘My whole world went away’: 2020 through the eyes of Alabamians," 31 Dec. 2020 But the answer to that question will color virtually every aspect of the response: hospital treatment, community lockdowns, school closures and more. Apoorva Mandavilli, New York Times, "Discovery of Virus Variant in Colorado and California Alarms Scientists," 30 Dec. 2020 Churches like Arkansas's Pleasant Valley Church of Christ have also been forced to color outside the lines, inviting visitors to participate in an outdoor candlelight service at the 18,000-seat War Memorial Stadium at the University of Arkansas. Julia Musto, Fox News, "Christmas church services will look different amid pandemic," 24 Dec. 2020 Pigments color the world all around us, but where do those colors come from? Mark Thiessen, National Geographic, "Episode 7: An Accidental Case of the Blues," 8 Dec. 2020 Besides the lights and color a tree brings to a home, growers also said more people are enjoying their time picking out trees in the fresh air, lingering among the spruces and firs with their families. Jesse Leavenworth,, "Christmas tree sales in Connecticut lit up this year as many, stuck at home, turn to live trees for cheer," 12 Dec. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'color.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of color


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for color


Middle English colour, borrowed from Anglo-French, going back to Latin color, earlier colōs "color as a physical phenomenon, pigment, complexion, appearance," probably, assuming an original meaning "covering, outermost layer, appearance," going back to *ḱel-ōs, collective derivative from an Indo-European s-stem *ḱel-os "covering" (whence perhaps Sanskrit śaras- "skin on boiled milk, cream" and, from a thematic derivative, Old High German hulisa "hull of a legume"), derivative of a verbal base *ḱel- "cover, conceal" — more at conceal


Middle English colouren, borrowed from Anglo-French colurer, going back to Latin colōrāre, derivative of color color entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about color

Time Traveler for color

Time Traveler

The first known use of color was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for color

Last Updated

6 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Color.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for color



English Language Learners Definition of color

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a quality such as red, blue, green, yellow, etc., that you see when you look at something
: something used to give color to something : a pigment or dye
: the use or combination of colors



English Language Learners Definition of color (Entry 2 of 2)

: to give color to (something) : to change the color of (something)
: to draw with crayons, markers, colored pencils, etc. : to fill in a shape or picture using markers, crayons, colored pencils, etc.
: to change (someone's ideas, opinion, attitude, etc.) in some way


col·​or | \ ˈkə-lər How to pronounce color (audio) \

Kids Definition of color

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the appearance of a thing apart from size and shape when light strikes it Red is the color of blood.
2 : skin tone as a mark of race You cannot discriminate on the basis of color.
3 : the rosy tint of a light-skinned person's face They still looked thin and tired, but color had returned to their cheeks.— Mary Pope Osborne, Christmas in Camelot
4 : blush entry 2 sense 1 Her embarrassment showed in the color rising in her face.
5 colors plural : an identifying flag
6 : interest entry 1 sense 2 Details added color to his story.


colored; coloring

Kids Definition of color (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to give color to
2 : to change the color of She colored her hair.
3 : to fill in the outlines of a shape or picture with color
4 : to take on or change color : blush He colored in anger.
5 : influence entry 2 I won't let these rumors color my opinion.


variants: or chiefly British colour \ ˈkəl-​ər How to pronounce color (audio) \

Medical Definition of color

1a : a phenomenon of light (as red, brown, pink, or gray) or visual perception that enables one to differentiate otherwise identical objects
b : the aspect of objects and light sources that may be described in terms of hue, lightness, and saturation for objects and hue, brightness, and saturation for light sources
c : a hue as contrasted with black, white, or gray
2 : complexion tint especially : the tint characteristic of good health

Other Words from color

color or chiefly British colour adjective

Keep scrolling for more



Legal Definition of color

: a legal claim to or appearance of a right or authority threats that gave color to an act of self-defense usually used in the phrase under color of a police officer held liable for violating the plaintiff's civil rights under color of state law a second “search” under color of warrant— W. R. LaFave and J. H. Israel

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on color

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Who Knew?

Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!