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
paled; paling

Definition of pale (Entry 2 of 5)

intransitive verb

: to become pale

transitive verb

: to make pale


\ ˈpāl How to pronounce pale (audio) \

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
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-

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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

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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The Superga sneakers are available in a rainbow of colors, including light gray, blush pink, and pale blue. Amanda Tarlton, USA TODAY, "Kate Middleton's favorite sneakers are on sale right now at Amazon," 23 June 2020 Unfortunately, the movie’s thriller elements amount to pale reflections of many other works. cleveland, "‘You Should Have Left’ is too familiar to frighten (review)," 19 June 2020 Dressed in a pale-pink Polo shirt, Lam, by then the secretary for development, sat for hours delivering the government’s message to the demonstrators. Timothy Mclaughlin, The Atlantic, "A Stubborn Leader, a Broken System," 18 June 2020 Sukkur, PakistanIn a secluded pocket of Pakistan’s Lab-e-Mehran park, the smooth waters of the Indus River break into circular ripples, and the head of a pale gray dolphin appears. National Geographic, "One of world's rarest dolphins rebounding in Pakistan," 18 June 2020 The rates of infection, while tragic, pale in comparison to death and diagnosis rates in other highly populous states. Chris Moody, The New Republic, "Living in Your Car as a Pandemic Consumes Your City," 1 June 2020 Other hot colors this season are pale lavender as well as neon green and all kinds of blues, from denim to powder blue. oregonlive, "This summer’s must-buy swimwear is here and everyone’s having sales," 17 June 2020 Nobody is demonized according to race, but the pale Gaulish faces always come out on top. Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic, "Asterix Comes to America," 16 June 2020 Lately, the milk house, a pale yellow building with its original wide brick floors, has held a different purpose. Sarah Haselhorst,, "A city farm, created to help repair the world, sows seeds of hope and offers food to go," 15 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Exposure also helps establish norms, defining what is considered beyond the pale in cyberspace. The Economist, "Cyber-defence America rethinks its strategy in the Wild West of cyberspace," 28 May 2020 The Husqvarna Viking 21a is a sleek, tubular machine the color of the 1950s—a pale, aqueous turquoise. Arthur Longworth, The New York Review of Books, "Pandemic Journal, April 6–12," 12 Apr. 2020 An orca pale in color as a winter moon has been wowing onlookers all over Puget Sound. The Seattle Times, oregonlive, "Rare white orca spotted in Puget Sound waters," 20 Apr. 2020 Minnesota's 71 pledged delegates up for grabs on Tuesday pale in comparison to megastates such as California and Texas, but front-runner Bernie Sanders has a strong strategic incentive to campaign there. Joseph Simonson, Washington Examiner, "Bernie Sanders aims for knockout blow against Klobuchar campaign by winning Minnesota," 27 Feb. 2020 Life on our pale blue dot is completely reliant on this vast ecosystem, a vital resource for food, water, and oxygen. Jennifer Leman, Popular Mechanics, "Watch All of Earth's Oceans Drain Away in One Mesmerizing Video," 3 Feb. 2020 But the $22 million pales in comparison to what Mr. Trump’s campaign and Republican committees backing him are spending on a regular basis. New York Times, "Our 2020 Election Guide," 6 Apr. 2020 Kelly said Karofsky's attacks are so beyond the pale that his own colleagues were forced to respond. Bruce Vielmetti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Kelly, Karofsky trade more ethical punches at Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate forum," 12 Mar. 2020 Some economists, such as Robert Gordon of Northwestern University, argue that driverless cars, 3D printers and so on pale into insignificance compared with the fruits of previous industrial revolutions, such as mass production (see Free exchange). The Economist, "Emerging economies are experiencing a prolonged productivity slowdown," 18 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb For many conservationists, however, such arguments pale in the face of wildfire emissions. Jane Braxton Little, Wired, "The Debate Over Burning Dead Trees to Create Biomass Energy," 27 June 2020 Former Dawson head coach Katelyn Welch, a one-time assistant to Clark, readily admits those statistics pale in comparison to what Clark means off the field. Ted Dunnam, Houston Chronicle, "Oiler softball coach to be inducted in hall of fame," 16 June 2020 Bass have bellies ranging from ivory white to pale yellow. Popular Science, "A beginner’s guide to freshwater fishing," 1 June 2020 Mattis’ small words pale in comparison to @POTUS’ strong action. Mica Soellner, Washington Examiner, "‘Glad he is gone’: Trump fires back at Mattis attack describing him as most divisive president," 3 June 2020 Bass have bellies ranging from ivory white to pale yellow. Popular Science, "A beginner’s guide to freshwater fishing," 1 June 2020 But these incidents pale in comparison to those in other major U.S. cities, 40 of which are under curfew. NBC News, "Five years after Freddie Gray unrest, Baltimore sets an example for peaceful protests," 31 May 2020 Those numbers pale in comparison with roughly 7,500 reported in South Korea and more than 80,000 in China. David Jackson, USA TODAY, "From 'great' to 'blindsided': How Trump changed his coronavirus message amid fear, confusion in the White House," 11 Mar. 2020 Bass have bellies ranging from ivory white to pale yellow. Bob Mcnally, Field & Stream, "The Beginner’s Guide to Catching Your First Fish," 11 May 2020

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


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

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

2 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Pale.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Jul. 2020.

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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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for pale

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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

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