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
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

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 Mix on low to moisten, then increase the speed to medium and beat until soft, fluffy and pale, about 8 minutes; halfway through, pause to scrape down the bowl and beater with a flexible spatula. Becky Krystal, Washington Post, "Thank the Big Apple for these humongous chocolate chip cookies," 2 Dec. 2019 Add remaining ½ cup granulated sugar and beat together until butter mixture is pale in color, about 4 minutes. Nancy Stohs, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "14 Holiday Cookie Contest winning recipes, ahead of this year's Dec. 4 reveal," 29 Nov. 2019 Rookie of the Year: Mike Yastrzemski has had a fabulous first year with the Giants, but his stats pale in comparison to the Mets’ mighty rookie, Pete Alonso, who’s into round-number milestones: 50 homers, 30 doubles, 100 RBIs. John Shea,, "Who should win baseball awards? MVPs and key factor in tight Cy Young race," 27 Sep. 2019 Still, those prices pale in comparison to the fee charged to Fischer. Kaiser Health News, The Denver Post, "Which was worse: This Colorado man’s bachelor party hangover or the hangover from his $12,460 ER bill?," 19 Sep. 2019 In court, the FBI's lawyers argued that the difficulties suffered by the plaintiffs pale in comparison to the government's interests in combatting terrorism. CBS News, "Judge rules that terror watchlist violates constitutional rights," 5 Sep. 2019 The mayor noted that the preliminary costs of these projects pale in comparison to the hundreds of millions the federal government plans to spend on the border wall. Gustavo Solis, San Diego Union-Tribune, "These six projects could fix the cross-border sewage spills," 1 Sep. 2019 Although the men’s deepening bond is meant to be transgressive, its implications pale in comparison to those of Twain’s parallel characters: Huck, a white teenager, and Jim, an older runaway black slave. Travis Deshong, Twin Cities, "A thief and a runaway with Down syndrome bond in ‘The Peanut Butter Falcon’," 23 Aug. 2019 Fitzpatrick’s statistics pale in comparison to Rosen’s preseason numbers: 23-of-38 passes (60.5 percent) for 293 yards with a 73.7 passer rating, leading the Dolphins on five scoring drives (two touchdowns, three field goals). Safid Deen,, "Ryan Fitzpatrick could seize Dolphins’ starting QB job in third preseason game against Jaguars," 21 Aug. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun But waging war on our students on social media—threatening them both physically and emotionally—is beyond the pale. Fox News, "Northwestern journalism dean reacts to 'heartfelt, though not well-considered' newspaper apology for reporting," 13 Nov. 2019 Until last spring, putting Chick-fil-A’s name in bright lights on the Alamodome might have been a tough sell — but not beyond the pale. Joshua Fechter,, "‘Chick-fil-A Alamodome’: New documents shed light on S.A. City Council’s controversial vote — and a never-before-seen proposal," 25 Oct. 2019 The water of the Rio Branco, the river that runs past the community, was a nauseous pale yellow. Jon Lee Anderson, The New Yorker, "Blood Gold in the Brazilian Rain Forest," 4 Nov. 2019 The approximately 170 Starbucks outlets in Hong Kong pale in comparison to mainland China, where Starbucks has already opened 4,000 stores in over 160 cities, with plans to reach 6,000 outlets by 2022. Grady Mcgregor, Fortune, "Starbucks in Hong Kong: Caught in the Crossfire," 2 Oct. 2019 In Hawaii, some coral reefs are starting to bleach, turning pale as the corals expel their colorful symbiotic algae in response to heat stress. Warren Cornwall, Science | AAAS, "Is ‘The Blob’ back? New marine heat wave threatens Pacific," 17 Sep. 2019 But the staid, routine pleasures of gelato pale in comparison with the extravagant joys of the seasonal ice-cream stand, which are as fleeting as the long, hot days of a New Hampshire summer. Katherine Howell, National Review, "The Summer Ice-Cream Stand," 22 Aug. 2019 Blush walls in the daughter’s bathroom and pale rose walls in her bedroom offer a silky smooth respite. Lucia Tonelli, ELLE Decor, "Inside a Luxe Lincoln Park Home that Sacrifices Nothing," 16 Aug. 2019 In a large bowl, whisk the yolks with sugar and salt until pale. Bibby Gignilliat, The Mercury News, "Quick Cook: How to make Lemon Verbena Ice Cream," 20 July 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb To me, both of those features pale next to the real downside: the use of blue text in menus, which is very hard to read in bright sunlight. Wired, "DJI's Osmo Action Cam Is $130 Off Right Now," 2 Dec. 2019 The spending still will pale in comparison to highway maintenance and expansion needs that the Colorado Department of Transportation once pegged at $9 billion. Jon Murray, The Denver Post, "Colorado unveils a $1.6 billion roadmap of highway projects for the next 3 years," 21 Nov. 2019 But that could pale compared to temperatures during the first of next week. Leigh Morgan, al, "Cold, then colder? Arctic blast may be headed for Alabama next week," 5 Nov. 2019 If Epstein responds appropriately, the addition of Ross will pale in comparison with a major trade or free-agent signing for a team facing a talent deficit. David Haugh,, "Column: Hiring David Ross as their new manager can’t be the biggest offseason change for the Cubs," 30 Oct. 2019 This may pale in comparison to the once-in-a-generation spending spree that Labour launched under Tony Blair. The Economist, "The Tories target health and crime in a political Queen’s Speech," 19 Oct. 2019 And yet both of those situations seemed to pale in comparison to the malaise surrounding Manchester United ahead of this one., "Newcastle 1-0 Manchester United: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Matty Longstaff Goal Sinks Red Devils," 6 Oct. 2019 And it must be said that, even if bursting this bubble did short-term damage to the economy, that damage would pale next to the kind of wreckage forecast for the planet if the fossil-fuel industry continues on its current path for another decade. Bill Mckibben, The New Yorker, "Money Is the Oxygen on Which the Fire of Global Warming Burns," 17 Sep. 2019 Over time, companies weighing the risks and returns may opt to go ahead and ship to China, reasoning that any possible punishment from the U.S. government will pale in comparison to the revenue potential. Tim Culpan | Bloomberg, Washington Post, "Huawei Blacklist Loopholes Were Made in the U.S.A.," 26 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


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

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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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

8 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Pale.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 9 December 2019.

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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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