1 of 3


: having the base color (such as red, black, or brown) muted and lightened by admixture of white hairs
a roan horse
a roan calf


2 of 3

noun (1)

: an animal (such as a horse) with a roan coat
usually used of a red roan when unqualified
: the color of a roan horse
used especially when the base color is red


3 of 3

noun (2)

: sheepskin tanned with sumac and colored and finished to imitate morocco

Examples of roan in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
Only eight gray or roan horses have ever won the first leg of the Triple Crown. Alexis Cubit, The Courier-Journal, 2 May 2023 The 2023 Kentucky Derby will feature four gray or roan horses. Alexis Cubit, The Courier-Journal, 2 May 2023 The gray/roan contingent is also due for a trip to the winner's circle, with the last to get there being Giacomo in Derby 131. Alexis Cubit, The Courier-Journal, 5 May 2023 Hit Show Color: Gray/roan Bred in: Kentucky Sire: Candy Ride Dam: Actress, by Tapit Price tag: Homebred Owners: Gary and Mary West, 0 for 5 in Derby. Louisville Courier Journal, 23 Apr. 2023 Award-winning conservation photographer Anthony Ochieng Onyango devotes his time to capturing images of decreasing populations, such as the roan antelope. Ashley Strickland, CNN, 22 Apr. 2023 Colors of the 312 nominees — 129 bay, 94 dark bay/brown, 60 chestnut and 29 gray/roan. Jason Frakes, The Courier-Journal, 9 Feb. 2022 Use Next and Previous buttons to navigate SMILEY — The red roan quarter horse named Pruitt looks like he’s been in the equine equivalent of a bar fight. Richard A. Marini, San Antonio Express-News, 30 Aug. 2022 This happened in the case of the giant sable antelope and roan antelope in southern Africa. Monica Cull, Discover Magazine, 11 Aug. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'roan.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



Middle French, from Old Spanish roano

Noun (2)

origin unknown

First Known Use


1530, in the meaning defined above

Noun (1)

1566, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun (2)

1818, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of roan was in 1530

Dictionary Entries Near roan

Cite this Entry

“Roan.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 adjective
: of a dark color (as black, red, or brown) sprinkled with white
a roan horse


2 of 2 noun
: an animal (as a horse) with a roan coat

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