pas·tel | \pa-ˈstel \

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

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Synonyms & Antonyms for pastel

Synonyms: Adjective

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

Antonyms: Adjective

dark, deep, gay, rich

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Melania paired the ensemble with minimal jewelry and sky-high stiletto heels in a matching pastel color. Fox News, "Melania Trump praised for J. Mendel gown: 'She looks like a princess'," 12 July 2018 On Easter, an upright rabbit, preferably not of the Donnie Darko variety, thumps around a field spreading plastic pastel eggs., "What It Means If Taylor Swift Skips Another Fourth Of July Party," 3 July 2018 The couple posed beneath a floral arch and even adding a pastel boutonniere to Smith’s lapel, clearly enjoying a night that remains a rite of passage for many teens. Janelle Okwodu, Vogue, "Jaden Smith Goes to Prom in a Very Gen-Z Suit," 31 May 2018 Here are confident drawings in charcoal, pastel, ink, graphite, pen, and watercolor. James Panero, WSJ, "‘Charles White: A Retrospective’ Review: Shimmering Black History Brought to Life," 27 June 2018 The resort island of Sentosa is where Singapore’s most affluent patrons relax in cascades of pastels and khaki. Time, "Singapore's Sentosa Island Takes an Unlikely Geopolitical Role as Host of the Trump-Kim Summit," 11 June 2018 Some pet owners went bold, opting for bright, heavy strokes; others chose faint pastels. New York Times, "A Sip of Wine, a Palette of Paint — and Thou," 24 May 2018 The meeting will include a critique by the guest artist for members’ paintings from 9:30 to 10:15 a.m., followed by artist Lyndelle Stonick demonstrating a painting in pastels. Linda Mcintosh,, "Assistance League holds orientation ...Community events," 17 May 2018 More than 80 of those works—in ink, pastel, watercolor, gouache, and pencil, most of them never seen before—offer a glimpse into the imagery that has inspired Brown for the past two decades. Rachel Corbett, Town & Country, "Cecily Brown's First Solo Museum Exhibition Is Her Most Personal Show To Date," 31 Oct. 2016

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Four colors that have been given the luxurious upgrade: classic black, pastel light blue, oldest-school maple, and burnt orange. Tyler Watamanuk, GQ, "Clarks Gives Two Classic Shoes a Super-High-End Upgrade," 23 May 2018 The manicured garden was straightforwardly beautiful, as were the clothes—particularly the iridescent pastel gowns near the end. Emily Farra, Vogue, "123,670 Embellishments and Nearly 1,000 Hours of Work: The Jaw-Dropping Details of Chanel’s Iridescent Couture Gown," 26 Jan. 2018 Dressed in a variety of pastel shades, the band took the no-frills route for their performance, opting for no elaborate costumes or staging, just pure soaring guitar leads and vocalist Sameer Gadhi's sweltering falsetto. Sam Tornow, Billboard, "Young the Giant Perform Expansive New Song, 'Simplify' Live on 'The Late Show': Watch," 13 July 2018 Indigo Intel This shirt boasts a slight white undertone, for a soft, almost pastel shade. Jacob Gallagher, WSJ, "The Chambray Shirt: Why Every Man Needs This All-American Staple," 3 July 2018 In a pastel lilac shade, this attitude translated as approachable — lighthearted, even. Emilia Petrarca, The Cut, "Tired of Millennial Pink? Try Melodramatic Purple," 26 Apr. 2018 Take a cue from stylish ladies like Olivia Palermo, Karlie Kloss, Bella Hadid and Elsa Hosk and add some pastel pieces to your everyday ensembles. Kami Phillips,, "11 Cotton Candy Colored Pieces to Add to Your Wardrobe for Spring," 13 Feb. 2018 Filmed in the short-lived (but well-preserved) Trucolor process, its hues are pastel and boldly deployed, and the use of space is equally daring and expressive. Patrick Friel, Chicago Reader, "Dance / Film / On Video Joan Crawford shines in five Hollywood classics," 26 June 2018 Many were dressed puffy coats tied up with belts and in pretty pastel or cool-toned colors, except for the occasional pop of orange. Sarah Spellings, The Cut, "Ankle iPhone Holsters Appear at Couture Fashion Week," 4 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.

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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

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Learn More about pastel

Phrases Related to pastel

in pastels

Statistics for pastel

Last Updated

6 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for pastel

The first known use of pastel was in 1612

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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 \

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

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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).


exaggeratedly or childishly emotional

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