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

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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

Ascension is arguably the most princess-y, with its white and gray floral heraldry-like packaging and shades of sweet pastels and soft, neutral browns with names like Glass Slipper, Tulle, and Curtsy. Marci Robin, Allure, "CoverGirl’s New Royalty-Inspired Eye Shadow Palettes Are Giving Us Game of Thrones Vibes," 26 Apr. 2019 The ominous date is listed in both her Twitter and IG bios, and her profile picture has been changed to fluffy pink clouds amidst a pale turquoise sky, very much in tune with her dreamy Insta feed lately, filled with pastels and butterflies. De Elizabeth, Teen Vogue, "Taylor Swift Shares Countdown Clock, Sparking New Music Fan Theories," 13 Apr. 2019 Stead’s use of charcoal, pastel and crayon adds to the quiet, tender feeling that suffuses the collection. New York Times, "Brief Tales for New Readers and Little Listeners From Philip Stead and More," 29 June 2018 There were plenty of pastels, parasols, and dancers. Gabe Bergado, Teen Vogue, "Taylor Swift's 2019 Billboard Music Awards Performance Is Being Compared to Beyoncé's 2018 Coachella," 2 May 2019 Set inside a pastel, cotton candy–color world, the new video sees group members RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V, and Jungkook execute their signature choreography. Christian Allaire, Vogue, "BTS Drops a New Album and Music Video With Halsey—And It’s a Visual Feast," 12 Apr. 2019 Similar to powdery pastel (another big color trend for spring), the shade is great for anyone with pale highlights or platinum-white hair, says Stephanie Brown, master colorist at IGK Salon Soho in New York City. Bella Cacciatore, Allure, "Lavender Gray Is Spring's Coolest Hair-Color Trend," 11 Apr. 2019 Self-Portrait fans will instantly recognize the brand's DNA in the bikinis and one pieces: graphic pastels, bright feminine florals, and shades of terracotta. Marina Liao, Marie Claire, "The Best New Swimwear of Summer 2019," 21 Mar. 2019 Their palettes range from saturated reds and yellows to mauves and pastels, with some painters using bold, dynamic strokes reminiscent of folk art and others displaying styles associated with Mughal courts. Lee Lawrence, WSJ, "‘Seeing the Divine: Pahari Painting of North India’ Review: Multifaceted Devotion," 16 Feb. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Holding hands, the terrifying Grady twins from Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining strolled by in shirtwaist dresses printed with childlike drawings of girls faces and pastel Mary Jane heels. Ingrid Schmidt, The Hollywood Reporter, "Inside the Horror Film-Themed Moschino Fashion Show at Universal Studios," 8 June 2019 Kate has continued to make stylish appearances at the annual event ever since, always opting for pastel colors that are perfect for summer., "Kate Middleton Snuck in Sweet Nod to Meghan Markle and Harry's Wedding at Trooping the Colour," 8 June 2019 Here comes that scene like the Breakfast Club one in which Molly Ringwald gives Ally Sheedy a pastel overhaul. Megan Angelo, Glamour, "Booksmart Is the First Truly Evolved High School Movie," 24 May 2019 With an assist from Tracee Ellis Ross, the rapper danced around a public access television studio, decorated with tinsel walls in the style of Warhol’s infamous Factory, all while wearing a pastel blue suit and that sleek blonde wig. Vogue, "Tyler, the Creator (and His Plastic Clones) Can’t Stop Wearing Suits," 23 May 2019 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

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

Statistics for pastel

Last Updated

16 Jun 2019

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 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

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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).


to move with exaggerated bouncy motions

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