\ 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 Opioid overdoses typically include a drop in blood pressure, slowed heart rate, slowed or stopped breathing, blue lips and pale skin. Bradford Betz, Fox News, 29 July 2022 Spriestersbach was just over six feet tall, thin and blond with sharp cheekbones and pale skin — a look that, on the sidewalks and in the parks of Honolulu, marked him as a haole, not a native. New York Times, 26 July 2022 Research has found that people with pale skin, freckles and red hair are more at risk of developing skin cancer due to their genes — although heat of this scale is dangerous for anyone. Jennifer Hassan, Washington Post, 18 July 2022 Researchers have found that people with the MC1R gene, which causes red hair, pale skin and freckles, are at a higher risk of skin cancer, according to a 2016 study published by Nature Communications. Glenn Garner,, 18 July 2022 In the end, Bale took to the screen to menace Hemsworth's Thor and Natalie Portman's Jane Foster/Mighty Thor with pale skin and a flowy, more demure robe. Sara Netzley,, 9 July 2022 Many—though certainly not all—have blond hair and pale skin. Sarah Zhang, The Atlantic, 22 June 2022 Once inside a treatment room, Idriss grabs my thighs, pale as cave fish. Jancee Dunn, Vogue, 18 May 2022 While lack of sun exposure can result in pale skin, there are other possibilities such as anemia, frostbite, and shock. Bruce Y. Lee, Forbes, 25 Dec. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Minogue's Rosé is an elegant pale pink with aromas of pink grapefruit, watermelon and lemon blossom. Linda Marx,, 14 June 2022 The chain’s potential pitfalls at home pale in comparison with those abroad, though. Spencer Jakab, WSJ, 25 Mar. 2022 So here James sits sipping a gin and tonic at the Polo Lounge in Beverly Hills, her pale-lavender nails clashing playfully against her black leather jacket, discussing the show that’s launched her career into the stratosphere. Amy Nicholson, Rolling Stone, 9 Feb. 2022 But early tests of conditioning pale in comparison to the rigors of last season for Scherr and her teammates. James Crepea | The Oregonian/oregonlive, oregonlive, 9 Nov. 2021 Many are familiar with Alibaba’s highly celebrated singles day, which makes Amazon’s AMZN +0.5% Prime Day sales pale by comparison. Sanford Stein, Forbes, 15 Oct. 2021 A few hours east, Salem, Massachusetts, has capitalized on its haunted history of criminalizing witchcraft—code for anything that fell outside the puritanical pale of normality (think Hocus Pocus, Practical Magic, and The Witch). Hadley Mendelsohn, House Beautiful, 23 Sep. 2021 Kateryna, pale-faced and with a girlish side-braid in her hair, even seemed to take some pleasure in it, often pulling out her phone to show a picture of this or that calamity. The New Yorker, 2 Mar. 2022 Over time, the build-up of toxins in your body can cause your skin to change to an unhealthy pale, yellowish or gray color, says the AAD. Hallie Levine,, 23 Nov. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Here’s the good news, the delays at U.S. airports pale in comparison to some major airports around the world. Chris Morris, Fortune, 27 July 2022 All of those forecasts pale in comparison to the film’s powerful domestic opening of $134 million, however. Patrick Brzeski, The Hollywood Reporter, 17 Mar. 2022 As both ball players continue to demonstrate excellence during their age 30 seasons, individual accolades pale in comparison to what matters most to both of them: winning a world championship. Wayne G. Mcdonnell, Jr., Forbes, 17 May 2022 Also, Heaven Hill Heritage Collection has pretty limited availability nationwide, although demand (and familiarity) for it will likely pale in comparison with Pappy. Jonah Flicker, Robb Report, 25 Mar. 2022 The screen was enlarged to 10.3 inches this year and navigation is newly standard, though the graphics still pale next to most smartphones. Joe Lorio, Car and Driver, 4 Apr. 2022 Those numbers pale in comparison to the annual $55 million economic impact the tournaments generated in Charlotte via spending at area restaurants, lodging, museums, attractions and other city landmarks. Edward Lee, Baltimore Sun, 1 June 2022 All those figures pale in comparison to the fees coming Diesel’s way. Borys Kit, The Hollywood Reporter, 2 May 2022 The figures pale in comparison to the Fortune 500, where women secured 26.5% of board seats in 2020 and women of color held 5.7%. Nimah Quadri, Fortune, 29 Mar. 2022 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

8 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Pale.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Aug. 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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