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

Hall of Famer Rosie Casals, for instance, was reprimanded by Wimbledon while playing in 1972 for a dress that featured too much purple; it was peppered with the logo of the Virginia Slims cigarette brand, Richards explains of the infraction. Raisa Bruner, Time, "Why Wimbledon Players Have to Wear All White," 2 July 2018 Cut stalks of 2 bunches (about 1 pound) purple sprouting broccoli or broccolini on the bias into 2-inch pieces, keeping flowers and florets intact. Eleanore Park, WSJ, "4 Spring Pasta Recipes: Make a Meal of the Season’s Freshest Produce," 27 Mar. 2018 Melodramatic Purple The trend was already incubating when Lorde stepped onto the red carpet at the 2017 MTV Awards in a light purple confection and gave it a name. Hayley Phelan, New York Times, "Place Your Bets on the New Millennial Pink," 3 July 2018 Virginia, one more of a red state, has become increasingly purple -- if not, arguably, blue -- at the statewide level. Kathryn Watson, CBS News, "Virginia GOP chairman John Whitbeck announces resignation," 30 June 2018 The video shows the kicker dressed in black and purple, and at least two other people in addition to the camera holder, the Star reported. Fox News, "Video of cat being kicked like football prompts search for kicker, camera operator," 20 June 2018 Remove the cap of an Evzio auto-injector — a yellow-and-purple device the size of a cigarette pack — and a voice prompt instructs the user to place the cartridge against the thigh of a person who has overdosed. Max Blau, STAT, "Donations of $4,500 overdose antidote were PR gold for drug maker — but some kits were close to expiring," 18 June 2018 The famed Japanese artist posted an Instagram this morning of himself in a shin-grazing skirt with absurdist tentacles of royal blue, purple, and pink. Liana Satenstein, Vogue, "Only Takashi Murakami Could Pull Off This Tentacle Skirt," 1 June 2018 Green equals low danger; red, high; glaring purple, extreme. David R. Baker, San Francisco Chronicle, "Inside PG&E’s new fire forecasting center," 8 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Pedraza started with a colorful, dark base of purple, blue and green eyeshadow, followed by purple and green glitter, black eyeliner to create a cat eye and purple and blue lining under my eyes. Kathleen Christiansen, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Disney World now offers character-inspired makeovers for all ages," 31 May 2018 In the entrance garden alone, visitors can expect to see 25-foot-tall palm trees, fishnet stockings with a lacy burgundy pattern on the leaves, water lilies, and the colorful purple-and-red blossoms of New Guinea impatiens. Bethany Ao, Philly.com, "At the Philadelphia Flower Show, water is the name of the game," 22 Feb. 2018 Lime green pairs well with yellows, grape purples and traditional black and white for striking contrast. Kelsey Kloss, ELLE Decor, "4 Green Bathroom Ideas For Colorful Interior Design," 11 July 2016 Other teams went small: The University of Washington team (which had the most eye catching wrap, with a fade from grey at the front to a vivid purple at the back) installed a tiny 800-cc motorcycle engine. Jack Stewart, WIRED, "Students Turn the Chevy Camaro Into a Eco-Happy Future Machine," 24 May 2018 The first 1,000 mothers who come to the match, which is at 6 p.m. on Sunday, will receive a purple rose, courtesy of Orlando City coach Jason Kreis. Jordan Culver, Pro Soccer USA, "Orlando City coach Jason Kreis purchases purple roses for Mother’s Day," 11 May 2018 Amid a sea of green revelers in the parking lots around the Linc, Jimmy Saah, 26, of Washington, wore a purple Randy Moss jersey. Erin Mccarthy, Philly.com, "Eagles faithful start the party early and want one more - at the Super Bowl," 21 Jan. 2018 The floating wall, which carves out the open plan apartment's living room, is coated in a vibrant purple, making an expansive space feel more intimate. Devin Alessio, ELLE Decor, "5 Different Loft Design Styles Across The Country," 5 Aug. 2016 And with LeBron James now wearing the purple and gold of the L.A. Lakers, things can only get better for basketball. Sean Gregory, Time, "LeBron James' Move to L.A. Will Lift the NBA," 2 July 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

10 Nov 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).


noxious or harmful

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