rain·​bow | \ ˈrān-ˌbō How to pronounce rainbow (audio) \

Definition of rainbow

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : an arc or circle that exhibits in concentric bands the colors of the spectrum and that is formed opposite the sun by the refraction and reflection of the sun's rays in raindrops, spray, or mist
2a : a multicolored array
b : a wide assortment or range a rainbow of flavors
3 [from the impossibility of reaching the rainbow, at whose foot a pot of gold is said to be buried] : an illusory goal or hope



Definition of rainbow (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : having many colors
2 : of, relating to, or being people of different races (see race entry 1 sense 1a) or cultural backgrounds a rainbow coalition

Other Words from rainbow


rainbowlike \ ˈrān-​ˌbō-​ˌlīk How to pronounce rainbow (audio) \ adjective

Examples of rainbow in a Sentence

Adjective the rainbow costumes worn by mummers at Mardi Gras
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Ever dreamed of traveling all the way over the rainbow? Stacey Leasca, Travel + Leisure, 12 May 2022 The stage lights are all the colors in the B-52’s rainbow: housedress orange, linoleum yellow, jellybean green, oxygen blue, posey purple. Karen Schoemer, SPIN, 1 May 2022 Somewhere over the rainbow, someone wealthy is preparing to spend up to $1.2 million for this rare piece of Hollywood history! Alexandra Meeks, CNN, 25 Apr. 2022 In one of her most popular arrangements, bears are squished alongside an ombré rainbow of stars, butterflies and other springy creatures. New York Times, 25 Apr. 2022 The sunrise clock plays soothing nature sounds, such as bird calls, ocean waves, and white noise, and can display a rainbow of colors. Sarah Madaus, SELF, 15 Apr. 2022 Ahead of the ceremony, BTS members RM, V, Suga, Jin, Jungkook, Jimin and J-Hope graced the red carpet in a coordinated rainbow of brown, white and purple suits. Christi Carras, Los Angeles Times, 11 Apr. 2022 The farm stand does steady business, selling as many as to 20 to 30 dozen chicken eggs per week in a natural rainbow of colors — no Easter dye needed. Lynne Sherwin, cleveland, 8 Apr. 2022 Morgan cut the Wave’s most memorable gem — heading a pass upfield to herself, off a rainbow from a teammate. Tom Krasovic, San Diego Union-Tribune, 27 Mar. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The crowd looked like a mini-rainbow coalition as Black, White and brown fans lined up to cheer the players. John Blake, CNN, 31 Oct. 2021 Bright heaps of soft toys and rainbow balloons and candles. Star Tribune, 24 July 2021 For $15, Utahans could rent rainbow flags from Project Rainbow during the duration of their city’s Pride festivities, which took place at various times throughout the summer and fall. Julie Compton, NBC News, 22 Oct. 2019 Tyresse Singleton, 20, is facing hate crime and arson charges for allegedly burning two rainbow flags displayed outside Alibi Lounge on May 31, the eve of LGBTQ Pride Month, and another Monday. Tim Fitzsimons, NBC News, 11 July 2019 While rainbow flags decorate nearly everything from my Uber ride to streetlights, more than 10 trans women, the majority of them Black, have been murdered this year—seven have been murdered in the past month. Alicia Garza, Marie Claire, 24 June 2019 There’s Jane Fonda on the red carpet looking smoking in Valentino, and Céline Dion showing off her mile-long legs in Alexandre Vauthier, and Baddiewinkle on Instagram wearing unitards so violently rainbow-colored, Miley Cyrus might wince. Steff Yotka, Vogue, 4 Feb. 2019 Hundreds of people chanted slogans and waved rainbow flags on side streets along Istiklal Avenue, Istanbul's main pedestrian thoroughfare. Zeynep Bilginsoy, Fox News, 1 July 2018 While rainbow jewelry is often dismissed as twee, these sparklers are all grown up. Hayley Phelan, New York Times, 27 June 2018 See More

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

First Known Use of rainbow


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1587, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for rainbow

Time Traveler

The first known use of rainbow was before the 12th century

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Dictionary Entries Near rainbow

rain boot


rainbow bird

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Statistics for rainbow

Last Updated

19 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Rainbow.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rainbow. Accessed 28 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for rainbow


rain·​bow | \ ˈrān-ˌbō How to pronounce rainbow (audio) \

Kids Definition of rainbow

: an arc of colors that appears in the sky opposite the sun and is caused by the sun shining through rain, mist, or spray


rain·​bow | \ ˈrān-ˌbō How to pronounce rainbow (audio) \

Medical Definition of rainbow

: a combination of the sodium derivatives of amobarbital and secobarbital in a blue and red capsule

More from Merriam-Webster on rainbow

Nglish: Translation of rainbow for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of rainbow for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about rainbow


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