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 event had the feel of a smaller, sweatier Trump rally; a man in a sea-foam-green Trump Golf Club polo mingled with a woman in a pale-pink MAGA hat. Rachel Monroe, The Atlantic, "When GoFundMe Gets Ugly," 9 Oct. 2019 And this Giambattista Valli Haute Couture number, in pale pink, would fit right in. Harper's BAZAAR, "Double Happiness: The Season's Luckiest Wedding Gowns—In China's Most Heavenly Setting," 30 Sep. 2019 Deep turquoise suede covers the banquettes, pale pink is on the chairs, slender vertical pendants hang over a long bar, and a large mural of a woman with red-flowered hair by Republic of Georgia native Giorgi Shanidze graces one wall. Sheryl Julian,, "Lively Ilona in the South End offers small plates from Eastern Mediterranean cuisines," 1 Aug. 2019 Together, the brands created a pale pink (ahem, rosé-colored) short PJ set inspired by Summer Water's hue and light-hearted vibe. Marie Claire, "Summer Water Rosé and Eberjey Partnered to Create the Perfect Summer PJs," 7 June 2019 The pale blue-green silk execution vest has visible stains on its front, according to the Museum of London, which will place the macabre garment on display later this year. Fox News, "King’s stained execution vest tells grisly tale, set to go on display," 31 Jan. 2020 The air is sweet and spicy with incense, the walls bright white and pale green, the plants many, the bar iswood, the binders of lab tests numerous. Emma Grey Ellis, Wired, "Release the Kratom: Inside America's Hottest New Drug Culture," 22 Jan. 2020 But those issues pale compared with the nightmare that is the 737 Max jetliner, grounded worldwide since March after crashes involving Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines flights. Chris Woodyard, USA TODAY, "Is 737 Max safe after crashes? Boeing faces reckoning in 2020, as new CEO seeks to end crisis," 16 Jan. 2020 Best Bronzer Gone are the days when brands tried to pass off three pale shades as bronzer for all. Glamour Beauty Editors, Glamour, "Shop All the Glamour Beauty Awards Readers' Choice Makeup Nominees," 15 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun There was once a time in the West when licking your fingers at the table, along with a host of other behaviors now considered beyond the pale of respectable society, such as blowing your nose into your hand, were deemed acceptable. Aaron Timms, The New Republic, "Privacy Policy," 27 Jan. 2020 Wires converge from around the room on a pair of monitors, a softbox light, a glaring LED panel, and a camera whose eye is positioned less than two feet from Bonnell’s pale, faintly perspiring forehead. Trevor Quirk, Wired, "Can This Notorious Troll Turn People Away From Extremism?," 15 Jan. 2020 Using grasscloth instead of paint makes pale pink feel more sophisticated. Emma Bazilian, House Beautiful, "5 Tricks for Sprucing Up an Outdated House," 30 Dec. 2019 Chateau Miraval Studio is a pale pink with notes of fresh fruit and citrus fruit. Leanne Italie,, "Get in the spirit of your favorite celebrity this season," 26 Nov. 2019 Chateau Miraval Studio is a pale pink with notes of fresh fruit and citrus fruit. Washington Post, "Celebrities are deep into liquor, wine with their own brands," 22 Nov. 2019 Piglet Line a sheet of hot pink felt on top of some pale pink felt to cut and create Piglet's ears. Shanon Maglente, Good Housekeeping, "13 Disney-Inspired DIY Halloween Costumes for Adults," 24 July 2019 This pale pink beauty offers crisp and subtle bursts of strawberry and watermelon, plus a long finish of almond and peach. Michael Austin,, "12 Cotes du Rhone wines that offer a range of styles and values," 31 May 2018 Rose Quartz is a pale pink, while Prismatic Amethyst is a lavender duo-chrome shade. Shannon Barbour, The Cut, "Becca Just Released Its Darkest Highlighter Shade Yet," 26 Mar. 2018 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The carbon footprint reduced on site would pale in comparison to the symbolism beamed to viewers. Gary Baum, The Hollywood Reporter, "How Joaquin Phoenix Vegan-ized Awards Season Behind the Scenes," 4 Feb. 2020 Maybe magic is so satisfying that even the most tempting technologies pale pitifully in comparison. Jason Kehe, Wired, "Harry Potter and the Curse of Technology," 11 Dec. 2019 But the new company with a market cap of about $20 billion, according to Bloomberg, will still pale in size to giants like Disney, which has a market value approaching $245 billion, and Netflix, valued at $136 billion. Charisse Jones, USA TODAY, "Viacom and CBS have officially merged, poising them to take on Netflix and Disney," 4 Dec. 2019 But such concerns seem to pale in comparison to worries about earning a living. The Economist, "Young Malaysians have big economic worries—and growing political clout," 26 Sep. 2019 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

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

17 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Pale.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Feb. 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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