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

Definition of pale

 (Entry 1 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 (1)
paled; paling

Definition of pale (Entry 2 of 5)

intransitive verb

: to become pale

transitive verb

: to make pale



Definition of pale (Entry 3 of 5)

1 : an area or the limits within which one is privileged or protected (as from censure) conduct that was beyond the pale
2a : 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.
3a : one of the stakes of a palisade
4 : a perpendicular stripe on a heraldic shield
5 archaic : palisade, paling


verb (2)
paled; paling

Definition of pale (Entry 4 of 5)

transitive verb

: to enclose with pales : fence

Definition of pale- (Entry 5 of 5)

— see paleo-

Other Words from pale


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

Synonyms & Antonyms for pale

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

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Examples of pale in a Sentence

Adjective 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 See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Then, out of nowhere on a form, my credit card processor asked me a ridiculous and beyond the pale, intrusive question: date of birth. Dylan Ogline, Forbes, 6 May 2022 Instead of sharing the species’ dark grey-green skin, these American alligator hatchlings are white and pink, with pale-colored eyes and claws. Corryn Wetzel, Smithsonian Magazine, 20 Aug. 2021 When the Crimson Tide took the field Friday for the first practice of August, a new pale-colored accessory topped the traditional helmets. Michael Casagrande |, al, 10 Aug. 2021 Across a gravel path from the greenhouse is the potting shed, where Bamford stops to show me the jewel of her collection, Attar of Roses, a variety with narrow, daisylike petals in a pale, icy pink and deep cerise-colored stamens. New York Times, 28 July 2021 Vana’s leaves are pale green, fuzzy, and have a clove-like aroma. Sunset Magazine, 28 Apr. 2022 Thanks to fermenting the juice on the grape skins, this pinot gris has a pale, pretty red color. Michael Alberty | For The Oregonian/oregonlive, oregonlive, 12 Apr. 2022 The cereal is a pale green color—hence the cheeky zombie branding—and is gluten-free, vegan, free of artificial flavorings, and non-GMO. Julia Duarte, Bon Appétit, 30 Mar. 2022 The pale color of the wall panels, interspersed with faux antique mirrors, resemble the hue of blanquette de veau. Jay Mcinerney, Town & Country, 27 Sep. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun But in my judgment, that -- that's beyond the pale. ABC News, 1 May 2022 The president’s behavior on Jan. 6 had been utterly beyond the pale, Mr. McConnell said. New York Times, 21 Apr. 2022 Yet both Ida and the messy departure from Afghanistan pale in comparison to the worst challenge facing a presidency that has never experienced a normal day. Stephen Collinson, CNN, 30 Aug. 2021 Second, the crypto community is generally quite against government overreach—and this invasion is beyond the pale. Alex Tapscott, Fortune, 2 Mar. 2022 But the idea of keeping all those guys is just beyond the pale. Connor Letourneau, San Francisco Chronicle, 21 Feb. 2022 Live octopus is gelatinous and slithery, its textures still beyond the pale for most American palates. New York Times, 28 Sep. 2021 Apartheid states are beyond the pale, the modern version of hostis humani generis, enemy of all mankind. Elliot Kaufman, WSJ, 4 Feb. 2022 The dovecote at the peak of the roof and the pale-yellow siding were overseen by one older man. Emma Alpern, Curbed, 22 Sep. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Still, these numbers pale compared with 1993, for example, when there were nearly 1,100 homicides inside the city limits. Los Angeles Times, 3 Apr. 2022 Meanwhile, assessments of the Florentine sculptor Donatello often pale in comparison with praise of his superstar contemporaries. Nora Mcgreevy, Smithsonian Magazine, 30 Mar. 2022 Those numbers pale next to the Cowboys’ 16.2 million or the Patriots’ 16 million. Dan Horn, The Enquirer, 7 Feb. 2022 Yes, those numbers pale in comparison to the roughly 72 million total cases and 871,000 deaths nationwide. Los Angeles Times, 27 Jan. 2022 The largest non-higher-education increases in pay at state agencies sometimes pale in comparison with some given at the state's larger colleges and universities, particularly for doctors at UAMS. Michael R. Wickline, Arkansas Online, 29 Aug. 2021 The chipmaker's annual sales still pale in comparison to Intel or IBM, which are both expected to generate more than $70 billion in revenue this year. Julia Horowitz, CNN, 27 July 2021 No matter how much smartphone cameras advance, digital photos often pale in comparison to the vibrant images before our eyes. Meeri Kim | Inside Science, ABC News, 11 July 2021 That is one of the central challenges facing the metaverse—immersion to such a degree that reality and fantasy are blurred to an extent that the cultural impacts of traditional 2D console gaming may pale in comparison. Adario Strange, Quartz, 6 Nov. 2021 See More

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.

First Known Use of pale


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb (1)

14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense


12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 5

Verb (2)

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for pale


Middle English pale, paal, palle, borrowed from Anglo-French pale, palle, paille (also continental Old French), borrowed (with loss of unstressed -id-) from Latin pallidus "pale, colorless," formed with the adjective suffix -idus from the same base as pallēre "to be pale or bloodless, have a pale color," pallor "paleness of complexion, loss of color" — more at fallow entry 1

Verb (1)

Middle English palen, borrowed from Anglo-French palir (continental Old French palir, paloïr), going back (with conjugation change) to Latin pallēscere "to grow pale, turn a pale color," inchoative derivative of pallēre "to be pale or bloodless, have a pale color" — more at fallow entry 1

Noun and Verb (2)

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

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Time Traveler for pale

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for pale

Last Updated

16 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Pale.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for pale


\ 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 pale (audio) \ noun

More from Merriam-Webster on pale

Nglish: Translation of pale for Spanish Speakers

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


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