light-skinned

adjective

variants or less commonly light skinned
1
: having a light olive to medium brown complexion
especially : being a Black, Latinx, Indigenous, mixed-race, or other person of color with such a complexion
… Eslanda Elbert Cardozo, Essie's light-skinned mother, rebelled against the pervasive colorist attitudes of the era's African-American community when she married the dark-skinned John Goode. Eleanor J. Bader
I've never thought there was a whole lot of value to being light skinned in a society that hasn't embraced its black people of whatever shade, but if people want to be colorist, you can't stop them. Kashana Cauley
I identify as a mixed-race woman because being light-skinned and having mixed features places me at an advantage in the matrix of colorist, Europeanized beauty standards, which have historically (and artificially) placed light-skinned Black and biracial women at odds with our darker-skinned sisters. Sarah Valentine
2
: having fair skin
Melanin is generated in response to the ultraviolet B radiation in sunlight; it is what makes light-skinned people tan.Jane E. Brody
Malignant melanoma is primarily a disease of light-skinned individuals of northern European parentage with a history of exposure to intense solar radiation.Marvin Harris

Word History

First Known Use

1802, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of light-skinned was in 1802

Dictionary Entries Near light-skinned

Cite this Entry

“Light-skinned.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/light-skinned. Accessed 24 Feb. 2024.

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