pas·​tel | \ pa-ˈstel How to pronounce pastel (audio) \

Definition of pastel

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a paste made of powdered pigment ranging from pale to deep colors and used for making crayons also : a crayon made of such paste
2a : a drawing in pastel
b : the process or art of drawing with pastels
3 : a light literary sketch
4 : any of various pale or light colors



Definition of pastel (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : of or relating to a pastel
b : made with pastels
2 : pale and light in color
3 : lacking in body or vigor

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for pastel

Synonyms: Adjective

dull, dulled, faded, light, pale, washed-out, washy

Antonyms: Adjective

dark, deep, gay, rich

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of pastel in a Sentence


She has a collection of pastels. She prefers a pastel like light yellow. The room is painted in a pastel shade of blue.


a pastel blue to go with the pale pink walls
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Along with the debut of a Nova x Barbie Flash sneaker — which features a brightly colored panel and Barbie's signature pink logo — Puma has unveiled a Nova x Barbie sneaker PS that includes soft hints of pastel. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "Puma Unveiled Its Latest Capsule Collection Inspired by Barbie," 2 Apr. 2019 Romantic gowns in luscious pastels, often with intricate embellishments, were worn day and night from Doha to Los Angeles for a global consensus on glamour. Vogue, "This Week, Stars Went for Modern Elegance and Runway Standouts," 1 Apr. 2019 For her wedding day, Markle stuck with a more traditional style with a pastel pink shade that may have been Essie's Mademoiselle, or the Queen's favorite Ballet Slippers. Zoe Weiner, Allure, "Meghan Markle Wears Unique Manicure on Official Visit With Queen," 14 June 2018 Image The Bathroom The en suite double bathroom, equipped with a rainfall shower and a sizable claw foot bathtub, was done up in pastel pink, black and white tiles and retro globe lights that could easily be dimmed. Lindsey Tramuta, New York Times, "At a London Hotel, Art Deco Design and Stylish Cocktails," 9 June 2018 Some are rendered in pastels and watercolor, while others are more abstract, etched in black and white. The Atlantic, "The Icelandic Families Tracking Climate Change With Measuring Tape," 6 June 2018 Some are rendered in pastels and watercolor, while others are more abstract, etched in black and white. Gloria Dickie, WIRED, "Humans Tracked Iceland's Glaciers For Ages. Now, Tech Does," 5 June 2018 Dressed to the nines in pastels and florals, London-chic fascinator hats perched neatly on their heads, the royal wedding spectators — nearly all women — filled the room with the sounds of giggling and the tinkling of spoons on teacups. Margeaux Sippell,, "A royal viewing party on this side of the Atlantic," 19 May 2018 Other choices include bright floral tops and dresses, suede jackets in pastels or earthy tones, and statement skirts in bold colors and patterns. The Cut, "How to Dress for 7 Spring Occasions: A Trunk Club Stylist Explains," 19 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

At one point, Swift's dancing in the street with dozens of women in matching pastel suits. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "Taylor Swift Planted So Many Easter Eggs in Her 'ME!' Video," 26 Apr. 2019 New merchandise has arrived to Taylor's website, and like her music video and recent social media posts, the clothing items and accessories are very pastel. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "Taylor Swift Released a Line of "ME!" Merch," 30 Apr. 2019 Colored with just enough gel to create a pretty pastel effect, the dough can be rolled into long ropes and cut before air-drying overnight into an after-dinner sweet. Elisa Ludwig,, "How to make your own Easter candy at home," 26 Mar. 2018 Marian Goodman is showing the exquisitely pastel pods of the sculptor Nairy Baghramian, each fastened to the floor or wall by a black stem, creating a delicious distortion of scale. Roberta Smith, New York Times, "ADAA: A Fair to Remember Starts a Month of Art Show Madness," 1 Mar. 2018 The Guardian’s architecture critic gained remarkable access to the world’s most secretive city, examined here alongside over 300 of Wainwright’s own photos, dominated by symmetrical buildings and sickly pastel hues. Curbed Staff, Curbed, "18 enticing new books on design, cities, and more," 14 Dec. 2018 As their beige surfaces, pastel-colored buttons, rounded displays, and rotary dials gleamed, more than a dozen Apollo alumni—the men who guided humanity to the moon and back—stood on the tarmac in eager anticipation. Matt Blitz, Popular Mechanics, "Houston, We Have a Resurrection: How Mission Control Came Back from the Brink," 27 Nov. 2018 The space is a fantasy of paper flowers, flowy dresses and pastel opal earrings. Will Kahn, Town & Country, "Irene Neuwirth Partners With Capitol for New Boutique in Brentwood," 2 Apr. 2019 As People reported, Rose showed up to Ace of Diamonds in West Hollywood with her new 'do, a cross between the pastel hair trend and the wet look seen on other celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Margot Robbie. Emily Wang, Allure, "Amber Rose Now Has Waist-Grazing Purple Hair, and She Looks So Different," 31 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'pastel.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of pastel


1612, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1884, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for pastel


French, from Italian pastello, from Late Latin pastellus woad, from diminutive of pasta

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about pastel

Statistics for pastel

Last Updated

5 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for pastel

The first known use of pastel was in 1612

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for pastel



English Language Learners Definition of pastel

: a type of chalk made from a powdery substance that is used for drawing and comes in many different colors
: a drawing that is done using pastels
: a pale or light color


pas·​tel | \ pa-ˈstel How to pronounce pastel (audio) \

Kids Definition of pastel

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a soft pale color
2 : a crayon made by mixing ground coloring matter with a watery solution of a gum
3 : a drawing made with pastels



Kids Definition of pastel (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : made with pastels
2 : light and pale in color a pastel blouse

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on pastel

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with pastel

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for pastel

Spanish Central: Translation of pastel

Nglish: Translation of pastel for Spanish Speakers

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

Comments on pastel

What made you want to look up pastel? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a strong desire or propensity

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Vocabulary Quiz Returns!

  • stylized drawing of woman pole vaulting across gap to get trophy
  • Which is a synonym of fuliginous?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!