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

Definition of purple (Entry 3 of 3)

transitive verb

: to make purple

intransitive verb

: to become purple

Keep scrolling for more

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 colorway is based on the purple and orange uniforms worn by the talent-sucking alien nemesis of Bugs Bunny and the Tune Squad in the upcoming movie. cleveland, "LeBron’s ‘Space Jam’ shoes now available in stores," 13 Feb. 2020 And Spike Lee used the carpet to honor Kobe Bryant, with a purple and gold suit adorned with the number 24. Ben Kesslen, NBC News, "The red carpet is underway!," 12 Feb. 2020 Spike Lee wore a suit that honored the late basketball star Kobe Bryant, in the Los Angeles Lakers’s purple and gold team colors and with Mr. Bryant’s jersey number, 24, on his jacket’s lapels and back. Ray A. Smith, WSJ, "On the Red Carpet, Style Triumphs Over Soggy Weather," 10 Feb. 2020 An overhead shot of the field showed a giant cross, which lit up in purple and yellow, the colors of the Los Angeles Lakers for whom Bryant played for from 1996 until his retirement in 2016. Lisa Respers France, CNN, "You might have missed the Kobe Bryant tribute during the halftime show," 2 Feb. 2020 On Amazon, an autographed jersey is listed at nearly $6,000, while Ebay.com is selling a purple-and-gold version for $100. Khristopher J. Brooks, CBS News, "Kobe Bryant jerseys in short supply after ex-NBA star's death," 28 Jan. 2020 The sole pop of color came from her purple-and-pink hued eyeshadow. Bianca Gracie, Billboard, "Here Are the 10 Best Red Carpet Looks From the 2020 Grammys," 26 Jan. 2020 Garden Groovy This purple and orange mask by Germ Freak by Dena Tyson feels fun and fresh, as if the flu were not a concern. Dakota Kim, Sunset Magazine, "It’s Flu Season—Here Are Five Masks We Would Actually Wear," 22 Jan. 2020 The night sky over Snowflake, Ariz., glowed pink and purple due to ultra-violet lights from a nearby marijuana farm called Copperstate Farms, the Arizona Republic reported. Fox News, "Night sky above Arizona town glowed purple due to nearby marijuana farm: report," 13 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The new Flip Z comes in black, mirror purple, and—in some countries—mirror gold. Popular Science, "Let’s watch Samsung announce new smartphones and gadgets at its Unpacked 2020 event," 11 Feb. 2020 The balloons of all colors, from orange to green to red to purple, hung above the Frontier Airlines ticket booth just waiting for a celebration. Paul Gattis | Pgattis@al.com, al, "Huntsville International voted nation’s top small airport," 24 Jan. 2020 The print has pinks, purples, greens, blues and taupes. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "With bright colors and a love for wallpaper, Whitefish Bay interior designer livens up her 1930s cream city brick house," 23 Jan. 2020 Kentucky isn’t turning from red to purple as a result of the apparent election of Beshear, whose father, Steve Beshear, served as governor before Bevin. BostonGlobe.com, "Analysis: Tuesday’s elections highlight the anti-Trump fervor in America’s suburbs - The Boston Globe," 7 Nov. 2019 And each of those football mavens, dressed in everything from Titans blue to Vikings purple, shared something in common with you. Kevin Cusick, Twin Cities, "The Loop Fantasy Football Preview: The Rookies," 2 Aug. 2019 The indicators change color to red or brilliant purple with the presence of the byproducts of putrefaction. Emily Matchar, Smithsonian, "Seven Inventions For a Safer Fourth of July," 3 July 2019 Some purple ones change from red to purple to almost black, with sugar levels increasing as the color darkens. The Editors Of Organic Life, Good Housekeeping, "How To Grow Your Own Vibrant Raspberries," 23 May 2017 But Robins said gamblers are wagering on purple in tribute to the late Kobe Bryant, who wore that color while playing for the Los Angeles Lakers his entire career. Paul R. La Monica, CNN, "DraftKings hopes to cash in at the Super Bowl and on Wall Street," 1 Feb. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Bloom’s favorite subject: The human body freshly released from the grip of death, often flayed and purpling, flesh turned inside out. Globe Staff, BostonGlobe.com, "This Boston artist shunned the limelight. He deserves to be famous.," 1 Aug. 2019

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about purple

Time Traveler for purple

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for purple

Last Updated

17 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Purple.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/purple. Accessed 21 Feb. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for purple


How to pronounce purple (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of purple

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: of the color purple
disapproving : using many fancy words



English Language Learners Definition of purple (Entry 2 of 2)

: a color that is between red and blue


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 purpler (audio) \; purplest\ -​p(ə-​)ləst How to pronounce purplest (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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on purple

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for purple

Spanish Central: Translation of purple

Nglish: Translation of purple for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of purple for Arabic Speakers

Comments on purple

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


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

More Confusing Words—Quiz

  • cats on impossible timber
  • The magician ______ moved the selected card to the top of the deck.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

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!