pur·​ple | \ ˈpər-pəl \
purpler\ ˈpər-​p(ə-​)lər \; purplest\ ˈpər-​p(ə-​)ləst \

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 \

Definition of purple (Entry 3 of 3)

transitive verb

: to make purple

intransitive verb

: to become purple

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Examples of purple in a Sentence


The book contains a few purple passages. Her writing was full of purple prose.

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Rebecca is orange, Brian is purple, Barb is blue. Related Be the first to read the latest installments in our coverage of the coming retirement crisis. Heather Gillers, WSJ, "‘I Was Hoping to Be Retired’: The Cost of Supporting Parents and Adult Children," 16 Nov. 2018 Crape myrtles are available in many shades of red, pink, lavender, purple and white. Calvin Finch, San Antonio Express-News, "There’s a lot to love about crape myrtles," 6 July 2018 The Suns’ hat is purple with their primary logo displayed prominently in the middle of the two panels. Richard Morin, azcentral, "New Era reveals 2018 NBA draft hats for all 30 NBA teams," 5 June 2018 The brief clip—which was even set to the SATC theme—features SJP in a very Carrie-meets-vintage-Madonna outfit: a pair of white lace heels, gloves, seafoam tulle skirt, purple beaded clutch. Natasha Reda, Glamour, "Sarah Jessica Parker Just Brought Carrie Bradshaw Back, and We're So Here for It," 20 Jan. 2019 Wendy Williams will not be returning to her purple chair on January 21 as planned. Selena Barrientos, Good Housekeeping, "Wendy Williams to Spend a "Significant Time" Hospitalized Due to Graves' Disease," 18 Jan. 2019 For today's appearance, the Duchess chose to wear a gorgeous purple Oscar de la Renta suit paired with Rupert Sanderson pumps. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Kate Middleton Chose a Gorgeous Oscar de la Renta Suit for Her Visit to the Royal Opera House," 16 Jan. 2019 Ariana's version of the scene has the singer donning Elle's exact outfit — white knit hat with purple flower included. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "Ariana Grande Recreated Another "Legally Blonde" Scene in the "Thank U, Next" Blooper Video," 4 Jan. 2019 The Rose Bowl field, with a purple Washington end zone and a red Ohio State one. Seattle Times Sports Staff, The Seattle Times, "Rose Bowl GameCenter: Live updates, highlights from UW Huskies’ loss to Ohio State," 1 Jan. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

For the visit, the Duchess of Sussex arrived wearing bold color on bold color, with a dress from Babaton by Aritizia in a vivid shade of purple, and an equally bright red coat by Sentaler. Marina Liao, Marie Claire, "Meghan Markle Wore Her Brightest and Boldest Look Yet for Her Birkenhead Visit With Prince Harry," 14 Jan. 2019 Jihyo, on the other hand, added hints of purple to her brown hair. Lai Frances, Allure, "A Comprehensive Guide to the Evolution of Twice's Hair and Makeup," 6 Nov. 2018 Fall might have just arrived, but the fun summer shade of purple has been frequently spotted in other recent celebrity beauty moments. Zoë Weiner, Teen Vogue, "Cardi B Coordinated Purple Hair with a Purple Suit at Paris Fashion Week," 26 Sep. 2018 Morty Schapiro, now at Northwestern University, has a closet full of purple. Melissa Korn, WSJ, "Congrats on the New College Job. What Will You Do With All Those Orange Ties?," 6 June 2018 In addition to mauveine, Vox reported that Perkin also invented other shades of dye including Perkin’s green (a turquoise shade), Britannia violet (another shade of purple), and alizarin crimson. Katherine Eisenbrand, PEOPLE.com, "Who Was Google Doodle Subject William Henry Perkin? All About His Colorful Discovery," 12 Mar. 2018 In fact, the purple and red palette was a favorite of Prince Harry’s mother, who chose to wear the hues together on a couple of famous occasions. Lucy Wood, Marie Claire, "Meghan Markle's Bright Purple and Red Look Had a Sweet Connection to Princess Diana," 15 Jan. 2019 Glastonberry is a berry-purple shade, and Currant is a reddish-purple. Marci Robin, Allure, "The Lipsticks Worn by the Witches of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Are Surprisingly Pricey," 1 Nov. 2018 Even LaVar looked relatively subdued, opting for a suit and tie — granted, a purple and gold tie with the BBB logo. USA TODAY, "LaVar Ball's Junior Basketball Association debuts with a freewheeling style in front of small crowd," 22 June 2018

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.

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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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Statistics for purple

Last Updated

17 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for purple

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

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More Definitions for purple



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 \

Kids Definition of purple

: a color between red and blue


pur·​ple | \ ˈpər-pəl \
purpler\ -​p(ə-​)lər \; purplest\ -​p(ə-​)ləst \

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

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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

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