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

Definition of purple 

(Entry 1 of 3)

2 : of the color purple

3a : highly rhetorical : ornate

b : marked by profanity



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

The plant can grow up to 18 feet tall, has a green stem with bristles and dark red or purple spots, and has a white flower. CBS News, "Giant hogweed sends Virginia teen to hospital, burn unit," 13 July 2018 Those Koch advocacy groups, Americans for Prosperity and Concerned Veterans for America, have trained their advertising fire on five Democratic senators up for re-election from red and purple states: Sens. Fredreka Schouten, USA TODAY, "Exclusive: Secret money funds more than 40% of outside congressional ads," 12 July 2018 Meanwhile, other possible 2020 Democratic contenders — along with party leaders in both Houses, and a swarm of red and purple state incumbents — have pushed for a more cautious approach. Rebecca Shabad /, NBC News, "The growing Democratic divide over icing ICE," 9 July 2018 Most items date to the mid-19th century and, save two gilded jackets in red and purple, are primarily the attire of villagers and the nomadic Bedouins, subjects that would appear in Church’s paintings. Laura Jacobs, WSJ, "‘Costume & Custom: Middle Eastern Threads at Olana’ Review: A Painter’s Souvenir Closet," 2 July 2018 Some people experience soreness and red or purple swelling, while others get blisters or ulcers. Lindsay Kimble, PEOPLE.com, "Summer Has Arrived — Here's How to Avoid Flesh-Eating Bacteria & More Warm Weather Health Hazards," 5 June 2018 That could hurt members of the Democratic caucus, 25 of whom are up for re-election, 10 from red and purple states Trump won. Ted Barrett, CNN, "Mitch McConnell's slow and steady summer plans for the Senate," 4 June 2018 Notably, these are not simply liberal islands — as the Utah County story shows, VAH exists, and is popular, in blue, red, and purple areas. David Roberts, Vox, "Recent vote-by-mail experiments in Alaska and Nebraska dramatically boosted turnout.," 23 May 2018 Strawberries starting first week of June; black raspberries third week of June, red and purple raspberries later in summer. Polly Campbell, Cincinnati.com, "Local farms where you can pick the food yourself," 9 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Jordan was up against Audrey Plaza's manic Lenny in Legion, the brooding Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and the purple, eight-foot tall, potential zaddy Thanos (Josh Brolin) of Avengers: Infinity War. refinery29.com, "Michael B. Jordan Thinks Roseanne Barr Should've Walked Away With Best Villain," 19 June 2018 Also joining Pink on stage was her daughter Willow, who turns 7 on Saturday, sporting a new purple ‘do. Jordan Runtagh, PEOPLE.com, "Gwen Stefani Joins Pink Onstage in Los Angeles for a Punky 'Just a Girl' Duet," 1 June 2018 Each one has a different color and a slightly different texture: purple (Aura), peach (Illusion), and green (Enchanted). Jessica Prince Erlich, The Cut, "The 15 Best Highlighters," 11 May 2018 As the sun went down Monday, the evening sky was filled with a striking array of pastels, from yellow to orange to pink to purple. Jason Samenow, Washington Post, "Monday’s sunset and Tuesday’s sunrise boasted a stunning color palette," 26 June 2018 For Democrats, health care is a way to both energize their most ardent supporters and connect with skeptical voters in purple and red states where the party has struggled. Joshua Green, Bloomberg.com, "The Dems Take Obamacare on the Road," 25 June 2018 Later still, blues blended with purples and greens. Joe Drape, New York Times, "On an Arizona Road Trip, Miles of Family Firsts," 12 June 2018 The singer dazzled in purple at the New York premiere alongside her Ocean's 8 co-stars, Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, Awkwafina, Helena Bonham Carter, and Sarah Paulson. Lauren Alexis Fisher, Harper's BAZAAR, "Rihanna Sparkled in Givenchy and Matching Fenty Beauty At The Premiere of Ocean's 8," 6 June 2018 Augmented-reality overlays outline projected locations of the tumor in purple and of a vein that needs to be avoided in bright blue. Sarah Toy, WSJ, "Brain Surgeons Get a Better View From Augmented Reality," 28 May 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 2


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

1 Sep 2018

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

: 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

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).


to deposit or conceal in a hiding place

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