color

1 of 2

noun

col·​or ˈkə-lər How to pronounce color (audio)
plural colors
often attributive
1
a
: 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
3
a
: 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 (see white entry 1 sense 2a)
The charges … allege that the social network discriminates based on colorShawn Knight
often used with of
… the policy of treating youthful offenders as adults falls most heavily on those of color.Kristin Choo
see also man of color, person of color, woman 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
6
a
: 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 stable
wore his college colors to the game
7
a
: 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
8
a
: 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
11
a
: 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

color

2 of 2

verb

colored; coloring; colors

transitive verb

1
a
: 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 securityC. 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.
colorer noun

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
This transformation co-opts the deceased Liz’s cotton candy hue into an overripe and eventually putrid rotten hot pink, a color all Vylette’s own. Scarlett Harris, CNN, 18 Feb. 2024 The style is inspired by surrealism and psychedelic art, inspiring the colors and some realism aspects of the subject’s face. Lisa Deaderick, San Diego Union-Tribune, 17 Feb. 2024 Choose from multiple colors and styles and stay warm all winter long. Christopher Murray, Fox News, 17 Feb. 2024 What’s more, by allowing only those with higher credit scores, the app risks further ostracizing communities of color, who historically have lower credit scores due to systemic oppression, lower access to banking, and fewer financial resources than white peers. Sunny Nagpaul, Fortune, 16 Feb. 2024 This is an improvement, though the Pixel 8 and iPhone 15 still produce images with more natural color. PCMAG, 6 Feb. 2024 Clearly not ready to return to her usual deep brunette yet, Fox attended the Jam for Janie Grammy Awards viewing party on Sunday, February 4, with the prettiest new pastel pink hair color. Marci Robin, Allure, 5 Feb. 2024 One is a golden-brown color with some darker brown stripes on the tip of its tail, while another is beige-brown with dark brown stripes running down its back and tail. Aspen Pflughoeft, Miami Herald, 5 Feb. 2024 Ayra Starr, nominated for Best African Music Performance, brought some color to the red carpet in this breezy sky-blue number. Christy Choi, CNN, 5 Feb. 2024
Verb
Saute the chicken until colored on all sides, then transfer to a bowl. Lynda Balslev, The Mercury News, 19 Feb. 2024 Burroughs, 16, is an art student at the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts in Paradise Hills and took some time to talk about her pieces in the show, what inspires her in her artwork, and a very early career as an artist/entrepreneur creating coloring sheets for her classmates. Lisa Deaderick, San Diego Union-Tribune, 17 Feb. 2024 The hotel’s team then springs into action, stocking the room with everything from honeymoon, anniversary, and birthday delights (decorations, personalized notes, Champagne, balloons) to children’s and baby amusements (games, coloring sets, bibs, plush toys, etc.). Nicolas Stecher, Robb Report, 16 Feb. 2024 And as for its bright pink color – that comes from the cell culture medium that the rice is kept in, not from the meat cells, and it can be colored differently if another medium is used. Jessie Yeung, CNN, 15 Feb. 2024 But their concerns inevitably colored the first two of those meetings on Wednesday. Ned Temko, The Christian Science Monitor, 15 Feb. 2024 Photos show the variation in coloring among Rahim’s eyelash pit vipers. Aspen Pflughoeft, Miami Herald, 12 Feb. 2024 Stacks of luggage brimming with sunflowers served as decoration, setting the stage for the themes of a voyage, unchartered territory, and optimistic beginnings that colored Agbobly’s latest collection. Essence, 12 Feb. 2024 On Valentine’s Day, the project is offering a free Zoom coloring session for anyone who cares to sign up. Leanne Italie, Twin Cities, 10 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'color.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

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

Verb

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

First Known Use

Noun

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

Verb

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near color

Cite this Entry

“Color.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/color. Accessed 27 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

color

1 of 2 noun
col·​or ˈkəl-ər How to pronounce color (audio)
1
a
: an aspect of light (as red, brown, or gray) or sight that allows one to tell otherwise identical objects apart from each other
the color of blood is red
b
: the property of objects and light sources that may be described in terms of hue, lightness, and chromatic purity for objects and hue, brightness, and chromatic purity for light sources
the sky's changing color
c
: a particular combination of hue, lightness or brightness, and chromatic purity
the car comes in six colors
d
: a color other than black, white, or gray
2
: an outward and often deceiving appearance
her story has the color of truth
3
a
: the color of a person's skin especially other than white as a mark of race
a person of color
does not discriminate on the basis of color
b
: a pink or red tone in a person's face especially because of good health, excitement, or embarrassment
4
: the use or combination of colors
a painter who is a master of color
5
plural
a
: an identifying flag, badge, or pennant
a ship sailing under Swedish colors
b
: service in the armed forces
a call to the colors
c
: a person's nature or character
showed his true colors during the crisis
6
: vitality sense 3b, interest entry 1 sense 4b
her comments added color to the broadcast
7
: something used to give color : pigment

color

2 of 2 verb
1
a
: to give color to
the wind colored our cheeks
b
: to change the color of (as by dyeing, staining, or painting)
2
: misrepresent, distort
his story is colored by his prejudices
3
: to take on or change color
especially : blush
colorer noun

Medical Definition

color

noun
col·​or
variants or chiefly British colour
1
a
: 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
color adjective
or chiefly British colour

Legal Definition

color

noun
col·​or
: 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 warrantW. R. LaFave and J. H. Israel

More from Merriam-Webster on color

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