pur·​ple | \ ˈpər-pəl How to pronounce purple (audio) \
purpler\ ˈpər-​p(ə-​)lər How to pronounce purple (audio) \; purplest\ ˈpər-​p(ə-​)ləst How to pronounce purple (audio) \

Definition of purple

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : having a color between red and blue : of the color purple a purple flower purple fabric … can only have left his antagonists purple with frustration.— Joseph Epstein
2a : ornately and showily phrased or expressed … the writing often descends into the purple prose of a besotted fan.— Stephen Holden … Rice is a first-rate writer. There are no purple patches in this narrative, and no attempts to sermonize.— Lawrence S. Cunningham
b : marked by profanity His language in public is so purple they had to stop broadcasting the meetings of the city council.Newsweek
3 US politics : having roughly equal levels of support for Democratic and Republican candidates or policies … a blue candidate trying to swipe a red seat in a purple state.— Don Rollins … as the race pulled tighter than Paris Hilton's jeans, Kerry volunteers flooded the purple states to energize their voters—tens of thousands of them newly registered.— Michelle Cottle — compare blue sense 9, red sense 5
4 dated : regal, imperial



Definition of purple (Entry 2 of 3)

1a(1) : cloth dyed purple
(2) : a garment of such color especially : a purple robe worn as an emblem of rank or authority
b(1) : tyrian purple
(2) : any of various colors that fall about midway between red and blue in hue
c(1) : a mollusk (as of the genus Purpura) yielding a purple dye and especially the Tyrian purple of ancient times
(2) : a pigment or dye that colors purple
2a : imperial or regal rank or power
b : high rank or station


purpled; purpling\ ˈpər-​p(ə-​)liŋ How to pronounce purple (audio) \

Definition of purple (Entry 3 of 3)

transitive verb

: to make purple

intransitive verb

: to become purple

Examples of purple in a Sentence

Adjective The book contains a few purple passages. Her writing was full of purple prose.
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The mix of custom and contemporary furniture and lighting includes sculptural silhouettes and pops of blue, red, purple, green, and teal. Alyssa Bird, ELLE Decor, 18 May 2022 In 2013, the Morgan Carpenter of Intersex Human Rights Australia chose yellow and purple as the intersex flag colors because they aren't traditionally associated with any one gender, according to Queerintheworld.com. Lizz Schumer, Good Housekeeping, 16 May 2022 The palo verdes don crowns of gold, and cactuses burst with large pink, yellow, purple and white flowers. Kaely Monahan, The Arizona Republic, 2 May 2022 Butterflies landed on shoulders, heads, leaves, flowers and nectar stations, where they were attracted to yellow, purple and orange hexagons sprinkled with pollen. Gary Warth, San Diego Union-Tribune, 4 Apr. 2022 Each fleet had its own distinctive flag color (red, black, blue, white, yellow, and purple), and Zheng Yi took command of the largest Red Flag Fleet. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 3 Apr. 2022 It’s all yellow and purple right now, and it’s my greatest inspiration. Corey Seymour, Vogue, 30 Mar. 2022 The series remains peerlessly multicultural and multicolored — blue, orange, red, green, yellow, purple, all the primary and secondary hues, plus the usual variations on black, white and brown. Los Angeles Times, 23 Mar. 2022 The space would feature bright yellow and purple colors, and a chalk board wall that people can write on. Hannah Kirby, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 1 Mar. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Modern hybrids bloom nearly year-round in shades of pink to white, red to purple. Nan Sterman, San Diego Union-Tribune, 7 May 2022 Democratic incumbent Mark Kelly won the special election in 2020, outpolling Joe Biden in a state that has moved from red to purple. Michael Tomasky, The New Republic, 18 Apr. 2022 Basically, the camera mapped colors—from yellow to purple—onto different wavelengths of infrared light. Rhett Allain, Wired, 7 Jan. 2022 The artwork showed blood morphing from blue to purple and red. Alison Bowen, chicagotribune.com, 17 Nov. 2021 The heart of the resort, it’s where people go to read over coffee to the soothing sound of the bubbling fountains or unwind at night, when the bar’s tree trunk glows from red to purple. Jennifer Kester, Forbes, 12 Nov. 2021 For her red carpet look, Doja Cat committed to purple and red, incorporating the sultry hues into her waist-length curls, multi-dimensional eye shadow, and ultra-long nails. Devon Abelman, Allure, 12 Sep. 2021 In line with creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli’s signature style, the lineup was full of colours, from apple red and sunshine yellow to royalty-ready purple and aqua blue. Frances Solá-santiago, refinery29.com, 16 July 2021 Some real GameCube vibes with this choice of purple. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, 18 Apr. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb For that fleeting moment, Democrats had high hopes that Missouri was perhaps following states like Colorado and New Mexico and transitioning from red to blue, or at least to purple. Daniel Strauss, The New Republic, 23 Mar. 2022 TikTok user @rossmcg also noted that Swift edited her lips from red in the original picture to purple, possibly on purpose to hint that Speak Now will be the special Record Store Day release in April. Rania Aniftos, Billboard, 25 Jan. 2022 Nobody would fault you for wondering whether the Baltimore area was trying to out-purple its opponent by unveiling streetlamps with the home team’s hue. Alex Mann, baltimoresun.com, 9 Nov. 2021 The legend shows what the colors mean, with green being the best air quality and purple the worst. Washington Post, 2 Sep. 2021 In her first days with the Pride, Burleigh is still working on transitioning her wardrobe to purple from her familiar orange and blue. Julia Poe, orlandosentinel.com, 23 July 2021 From Rally Beers to purple and orange conchas, fans can support local businesses and rally the Valley by checking out some of these popular food and beverage shops. Priscilla Totiyapungprasert, The Arizona Republic, 1 July 2021 States such as New York and California are likely to remain blue, but an infusion of left-leaning carpetbaggers into other states might accelerate a trend to purple. WSJ, 13 Jan. 2022 For the several miles, Bobbi Jo varied her pace as Morgan monitored her lactic acid level and the cursor fluctuated from green to purple to rosy. Richard A. Lovett, Outside Online, 11 Jan. 2021 See More

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

First Known Use of purple


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)


15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for purple


Middle English purpel, alteration of purper, from Old English purpuran of purple, genitive of purpure purple color, from Latin purpura, from Greek porphyra

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Play with color with paint by number kits for adults selected by our Reviews team.

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Time Traveler for purple

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The first known use of purple was in the 15th century

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Dictionary Entries Near purple



purple apricot

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Statistics for purple

Last Updated

20 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Purple.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/purple. Accessed 20 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for purple


pur·​ple | \ ˈpər-pəl How to pronounce purple (audio) \

Kids Definition of purple

: a color between red and blue


pur·​ple | \ ˈpər-pəl How to pronounce purple (audio) \
purpler\ -​p(ə-​)lər How to pronounce purple (audio) \; purplest\ -​p(ə-​)ləst How to pronounce purple (audio) \

Medical Definition of purple

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: of the color purple



Medical Definition of purple (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : any of various colors that fall about midway between red and blue in hue
2 : a pigment or dye that colors purple — see visual purple

More from Merriam-Webster on purple

Nglish: Translation of purple for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of purple for Arabic Speakers


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