noun, often attributive
col·or | \ˈkə-lər \

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

2a : 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

3 : 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

4a : 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

b : local color

5a : 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

6a 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

b : character, nature usually used in plural showed himself in his true colors

7a : the use or combination of colors

b : two or more hues employed in a medium of presentation movies in color

8 colors plural

a : a naval or nautical salute to a flag being hoisted or lowered

b : armed forces

9 : vitality, interest The play had a good deal of color to it.

10 : something used to give color : pigment

11 : the quality of timbre in music the color and richness of the cello

12 : skin pigmentation especially other than white characteristic of race a person of color

13 : a small particle of gold in a gold miner's pan after washing

14 : 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

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 : misrepresent, distort a highly colored version of the facts

b : gloss, excuse color a lie

c : influence "The lives of most of us have been colored by politics … "— Christine Weston

3 : characterize, label … call it progress; color it inevitable with shades of job security— C. E. Price

intransitive verb

1 : to take on color specifically : blush She colored at the mention of his name.

2 : 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

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Other Words from color


colorer \ˈkə-lər-ər \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for color

Synonyms: Noun

character, complexion, constitution, genius, nature, personality, self, tone

Synonyms: Verb

dye, paint, pigment, stain, tincture, tinge, tint

Antonyms: Verb


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Examples of color in a Sentence


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.


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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Lorraine liked bright funky clothes, so guests are encouraged to come in bright colors in her memory., "Lorraine Johanna Crain," 11 July 2018 The edges are scalloped and hand-painted in summery colors—french blue, strawberry red, garden rose pink, and lilac—with a glossy dye. Katie Kiefner, Vogue, "Send All of Your Summer Thank You Notes on This Stunning Stationery," 10 July 2018 The number of amazing programs and performances from people of color that go unnoticed every year is proof of that., "Issa Rae Finally Got An Emmy Nod & I Can't Stop Crying," 12 July 2018 And efforts made by tech companies to close the gender gap have boosted the fortunes of white women, while hobbling progress for women of color. Jessica Guynn, USA TODAY, "Facebook's diversity efforts failing African-American and Hispanic women," 12 July 2018 The dirt here is the same color as the dirt in Tonopah, Nevada. Deborah Vankin,, "LACMA debuts its 'Solar Reserve,' a digital sculpture addressing energy conservation," 12 July 2018 There are even studies that show that people viewing a person’s skin being pricked by a needle will have more of a [physiological] reaction when the skin is the same color as theirs. Brian Resnick, Vox, "A sociologist explains why we make spectacle out of trauma like the Thai cave boys," 11 July 2018 Go for colors like blue and white, and accents like tropical plants and shells. Temi Adebowale, House Beautiful, "Here's What 'The Simpsons' Living Room Would Look Like in the Real World," 10 July 2018 In one mouse, 79% of her eggs ended up with the color modifying gene on both chromosomes. Jon Cohen, Science | AAAS, "‘Gene drive’ passes first test in mammals, speeding up inheritance in mice," 10 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

His voice is like a narrative voice in a literary sense; a disembodied stream of memory, coloring the world and giving it stakes. Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic, "Sacred Games Reinvents the Police Procedural," 12 July 2018 Bake for about 20 minutes, rotating the pans about halfway through, or until the loaves are nicely colored and sound hollow when tapped. Daniel Neman, sacbee, "Artistry, flavor blends are marks of Moroccan," 10 July 2018 On the eve of adulthood, each man had suddenly been confronted with mirror images of himself that were not him, and uncovered a buried history that colored his entire upbringing. J.r. Jones, Chicago Reader, "Triplets ripped from family in a Nazi-like experiment, probed in Three Identical Strangers," 5 July 2018 Large wall planes colored blue, magenta, pink, yellow, and white run from the exteriors to the interiors, which are also characterized by similar colors and graphic tiles and wallpaper. Lauren Ro, Curbed, "Casa TEC 205 was designed by Moneo Brock," 15 May 2018 Getty Images Growing opposition to the Iraq War and Bush’s close alliance with Prime Minister Tony Blair colored a state visit in November 2003, nearly eight months after British and U.S. forces invaded Iraq. Olivia B. Waxman, Time, "5 World Leaders Whose Visits to the U.K. Sparked Controversy," 12 July 2018 Each time a book is read to the child, the child will color a portion of the picture. Courant Community, "Community News For The Vernon Edition," 26 June 2018 In a heavy-bottom saucepan, cook the olive oil, garlic and butter over moderate heat, whisking frequently, until the garlic just starts to color, about 7 minutes. Noelle Carter,, "Culinary SOS: 'Heirloom tomato' bagna cauda, lap cheong, crème fraîche, fines herbes," 31 May 2018 Their flowers will often be colored, very unlike the tan seedheads of grasses. Neil Sperry, star-telegram, "If your yard is in the weeds, here are some tips to control them | Fort Worth Star-Telegram," 17 May 2018

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.

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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

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Statistics for color

Last Updated

14 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for color

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

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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 \

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 \

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

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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

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