\ ˈpāl How to pronounce pale (audio) \

Definition of pale

 (Entry 1 of 5)

1 archaic : palisade, paling
2a : one of the stakes of a palisade
3a : a space or field having bounds : enclosure The cattle were led into the pale.
b : a territory or district within certain bounds or under a particular jurisdiction British culture survived even within the Roman pale.
4 : an area or the limits within which one is privileged or protected (as from censure) conduct that was beyond the pale
5 : a perpendicular stripe on a heraldic shield


verb (1)
paled; paling

Definition of pale (Entry 2 of 5)

transitive verb

: to enclose with pales : fence


paler; palest

Definition of pale (Entry 3 of 5)

1a : deficient in color or intensity of color : pallid a pale complexion
b(1) : having color of reduced saturation — see saturation sense 4a a pale pink
(2) : light in color especially relative to others of its kind pale beers
2 : not bright or brilliant : dim a pale sun shining through the fog
3 : feeble, faint a pale imitation


verb (2)
paled; paling

Definition of pale (Entry 4 of 5)

intransitive verb

: to become pale

transitive verb

: to make pale
variants: or paleo-

Definition of pale- (Entry 5 of 5)

1 : involving or dealing with ancient forms or conditions paleobotany
2 : early : primitive : archaic Paleolithic

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Other Words from pale


palely \ ˈpāl-​lē How to pronounce palely (audio) \ adverb
paleness \ ˈpāl-​nəs How to pronounce paleness (audio) \ noun
palish \ ˈpā-​lish How to pronounce palish (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for pale

Synonyms: Adjective

dull, dulled, faded, light, pastel, washed-out, washy

Antonyms: Adjective

dark, deep, gay, rich

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Examples of pale in a Sentence


the pale wood of the table The walls were painted a pale blue. She has a pale complexion. Her illness had left her pale and weak. She grew pale with fright. Are you feeling well? You look pale. the pale light of dawn
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Her burping happens often, but this one was beyond the pale. Abigail Van Buren, Twin Cities, "Dear Abby: Lines are drawn in Minnesota family feud over recovering addict," 4 July 2019 Her burping happens often, but this one was beyond the pale. Dear Abby,, "Dear Abby: Is stepbrother rehabilitated or faking it? The question is tearing apart this family," 4 July 2019 Though Democrats are now treating criticism of federal law enforcement as beyond the pale, their newfound faith is every bit as partisan as Republicans’ newfound skepticism. Jonathan S. Tobin, National Review, "Since When Are Liberals against Investigating the CIA and FBI?," 17 June 2019 Thus 52 percent of the electorate was neatly exiled to beyond the pale. Lionel Shriver, Harper's magazine, "No Exit," 10 Apr. 2019 One of the prettiest options was a pale pink, but both Gabi and her Design Director, Linda, remembered me saying that one of my favorite colors was oatmeal, and Gabi’s oatmeal is particularly lovely. Tara Lamont-djite, Harper's BAZAAR, "When Megan Met Henry: A Very British Wedding in Brooklyn," 11 Mar. 2019 The Duchess previously made appearances at both Smart Works and Mayhew earlier this month, and visited the National Theater yesterday wearing a stunning a pale pink Brandon Maxwell dress. Maggie Maloney, Town & Country, "Meghan Markle Wore a Black Givenchy Coat to the Association of Commonwealth Universities," 31 Jan. 2019 Add the butter and mix on low speed until the two are evenly combined, then increase the speed to medium and beat until pale and lightened in texture, about 3 minutes. Ben Mims,, "Saturday Cooks: Fresh farmers market cherries get a boost in flavor from a surprising source," 29 June 2019 Mr Salomón, who was born in the northern state of Sonora, recalls that his grandmother had two dogs—a black one called Negro and a white one called Güero, meaning pale. The Economist, "Pet-ownership is booming across the world," 22 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

But these numbers pale next to the 107.6 million people who are employed in service industries, such as health care, education, and retailing. John Cassidy, The New Yorker, "Three Key Questions About Trump and the Economy," 9 July 2019 Those numbers pale next to his career numbers: .298/.344/.801. Patrick Saunders, The Denver Post, "3 big keys to the Rockies’ second-half playoff chances," 7 July 2019 But those numbers pale in comparison to what has been recorded in Cincinnati, where precipitation to date of 35.61 inches is 12.99 inches above normal. Rich Exner,, "Cincinnati is Ohio’s rain capital in 2019, but Akron, Cleveland, Columbus among those also well above normal," 1 July 2019 Daffodils come in many different sizes and hues, ranging from creamy white to pale yellow with center cups in shades of white, red or pink. Arricca Elin Sansone, House Beautiful, "How to Plant Daffodils," 28 June 2019 Even when factoring in a 104% growth in digital streaming, according to NBC Sports Chicago, the White Sox numbers pale in comparison to what the Cubs draw on the channel. Phil Rosenthal,, "White Sox TV ratings are way up but still can’t match Cubs numbers, which are down," 18 June 2019 Those figures pale in comparison with the hundreds of millions of dollars superhero blockbusters rake in. Benjamin Din, WSJ, "A Renaissance for Documentaries," 2 Sep. 2018 The nervous agitation viewers might feel at all the reckless skateboarding will pale in comparison to their worry over Elliott. John Anderson, WSJ, "‘Minding the Gap’ Review: The Perilous Road to Maturity," 16 Aug. 2018 Bake, rotating positions of pans halfway through, until set and dry to touch but pale, about 5 minutes. Cherry Point, Good Housekeeping, "How to Make Homemade Saltine Crackers," 7 Aug. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

The problem with making an exhaustive catalog of the craziest theories entertained by Americans over the last 200 years is that today’s almost seem to pale by comparison. J.c. Pan, The New Republic, "Democratic Rot and the Origins of American Conspiracism," 3 July 2019 In fact, some beachgoers have not noticed their new neighbors, whose pale gray-brown plumage blends into the sandy landscape. Sarah Wu,, "Endangered piping plovers hatch in Boston for the first time in decades," 2 July 2019 Taylor, 39, kept it cool and casual in a pale blue shirt, khaki pants and dark loafers. Natalie Stone,, "Inside Vanderpump Rules' Jax Taylor and Brittany Cartwright's Kentucky Castle Rehearsal Dinner," 28 June 2019 Elsewhere, lightweight textiles, pale wood accents, and leafy views are the order of the day. The house is also stocked with cards and board games, as Weiss enforces a strict no-cell-phone rule outside of the bedrooms. Emma Bazilian, House Beautiful, "This Sonoma Home Has THE Most Genius Napping Nook," 28 June 2019 Between Sabrina's new white-blonde hair, Shipka's pale skin, and the bright camera lights, Stafford-Bridge has had to pump up her blush for the second half of the season. Leah Prinzivalli, Allure, "Chilling Adventures of Sabrina," 5 Apr. 2019 The look instantly brought to mind a young bombshell Bruni on Chanel's 1990 runway—updated slightly by Hadid with an all-over bronze glow and poppy pink lips in place of pale skin and a Bordeaux mouth. Calin Van Paris, Vogue, "Bella Hadid Has a Carla Bruni Doppelganger Moment (Again!) and It's Worth a Double Take," 6 Sep. 2018 On the other side of tanning, Chris Matthews, the good-natured MSNBC host, has pale Irish skin, to accompany his light blond hair. Alison Rose, Town & Country, "Hot Pursuit," 16 Dec. 2012 After weeks of being reprimanded by Justice Jackson for spouting random objections and nonsensical legalese, a gaunt and pale Mr. Gilbert, 34, has largely been absent from his own proceedings, choosing not to come to court on most days. New York Times, "He Graduated From Princeton, but Barely Worked. Then He Killed His Dad Over His Allowance.," 18 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'pale.' 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 pale


12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb (1)

14th century, in the meaning defined above


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb (2)

14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

History and Etymology for pale

Noun and Verb (1)

Middle English, from Anglo-French pel, pal stake, from Latin palus — more at pole


Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin pallidus, from pallēre to be pale — more at fallow

Combining form

Greek palai-, palaio- ancient, from palaios, from palai long ago; probably akin to Greek tēle far off, Sanskrit carama last

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Dictionary Entries near pale

palazzo pants







Statistics for pale

Last Updated

19 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for pale

The first known use of pale was in the 12th century

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More Definitions for pale



English Language Learners Definition of pale

: light in color
: having a skin color that is closer to white than is usual or normal
of light : not bright or intense


\ ˈpāl How to pronounce pale (audio) \
paler; palest

Kids Definition of pale

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : having very light skin
2 : having a lighter skin color than normal because of sickness or fear
3 : not bright or brilliant a pale star
4 : light in color or shade pale pink

Other Words from pale

paleness noun


paled; paling

Kids Definition of pale (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to lose color She paled when the wound was described to her.
2 : to make or become less adequate, impressive, or intense My science project paled in comparison to those of the other students.


\ ˈpā(ə)l How to pronounce pale (audio) \
paler; palest

Medical Definition of pale

: deficient in color or intensity of color a pale face

Other Words from pale

paleness \ -​nəs How to pronounce paleness (audio) \ noun

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More from Merriam-Webster on pale

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with pale

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for pale

Spanish Central: Translation of pale

Nglish: Translation of pale for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pale for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about pale

Comments on pale

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


appealing forcibly to the mind or reason

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