colored

1 of 2

adjective

col·​ored ˈkə-lərd How to pronounce colored (audio)
1
: having color
2
a
b
: marked by exaggeration or bias
3
a
dated, usually offensive; see usage paragraph below : of a race (see race entry 1 sense 1a) other than white
especially : black entry 1 sense 2
b
dated, usually offensive; see usage paragraph below : of mixed race (see race entry 1 sense 1a)
4
dated, usually offensive; see usage paragraph below : of or relating to persons of races (see race entry 1 sense 1a) other than white or to persons of mixed race
Usage of Colored

The adjective meanings of colored relating to race were formerly in common and widespread use well into the 20th century, although attitudes toward them had changed by the 1960s. In most nonhistorical contexts, these uses of colored are now considered unacceptable; the terms Black and African American are preferred. The adjective colored remains in the full name of the NAACP (the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), a civil rights organization founded in the early 20th century. The use of colored in this name is not regarded as offensive. The adjective colored is also occasionally still used in self-reference by Black people, but its use by others is offensive.

colored

2 of 2

noun

plural colored or coloreds
often capitalized
dated, offensive; see usage paragraph below
: a person of a race (see race entry 1 sense 1a) other than white or of mixed race
Usage of Colored

The noun colored was formerly in common and widespread use well into the 20th century, although attitudes toward it had changed by the 1960s. In most nonhistorical contexts, this use of colored is now considered unacceptable.

Examples of colored in a Sentence

Adjective We decorated the Christmas tree with colored lights. He gave a highly colored account of the events.

Word History

First Known Use

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

1832, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near colored

Cite this Entry

“Colored.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/colored. Accessed 23 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

colored

adjective
col·​ored
ˈkəl-ərd
1
: having color
colored pictures
2
a
sometimes offensive : of a race other than the white race
especially : black entry 1 sense 2b
b
sometimes offensive : of or relating to persons of a mixed race or a race other than the white race

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