var·​ie·​gat·​ed | \ ˈver-ē-ə-ˌgā-təd How to pronounce variegated (audio) , ˈver-i-ˌgā- \

Definition of variegated

1 : having discrete markings of different colors variegated leaves

Keep scrolling for more

The Colorful History of Variegated

Variegated has been adding color to our language since the 17th century. It is used in botany to describe the presence of two or more colors in the leaves, petals, or other parts of plants, and it also appears in the names of some animals (such as the variegated cutworm). It can be used by the general speaker to refer to anything marked with different colors ("a variegated silk robe," for instance) or to things that are simply various and diverse ("a variegated collection"). Variegated has a variety of relatives in English—it is ultimately derived from the Latin root varius, meaning "varied," which also gave us vary, various, and variety.

Examples of variegated in a Sentence

the variegated costumes of the dancers in the nightclub a variety of variegated tulip that is highly prized by gardeners
Recent Examples on the Web Between city and country lies a more variegated landscape of intermediates. Nikil Saval, The New Republic, "The Future of the Democratic Party Is in Pennsylvania," 26 Oct. 2020 Bill Buford has had a storied and variegated career, a mix of high and low and sensitive and almost macho — a career that has twisted gently, like a flamed citrus peel destined for a Negroni. Dwight Garner, New York Times, "In ‘Dirt,’ Bill Buford Goes in Search of French Cuisine’s Secrets," 25 May 2020 Place these plants in a hanging basket or on a shelf to show off the variegated colors. Jessica Bennett, Better Homes & Gardens, "These Editor-Approved Fake Plants Look Just Like the Real Thing," 14 May 2020 Growers must take cuttings from the plant to propagate new pink princesses, and only from the most variegated parts of a mother plant, which makes them finicky for commercial growing. Arielle Pardes, Wired, "The Princess, the Plantfluencers, and the Pink Congo Scam," 19 Feb. 2020 The essays wander a variegated terrain of memoir, criticism and polemic, oscillating between smooth proclamations of certainty and twitches of self-doubt. Jennifer Szalai, New York Times, "‘Minor Feelings’ Rescues Personal Experience From the Expectations of Others," 17 Feb. 2020 Every season, these trees shed their old rinds, revealing a new variegated layer of oranges, blues, and greens. Kelly Corbett, House Beautiful, "These Gorgeous Eucalyptus Trees Create a Rainbow Effect as Bark Peels," 12 Feb. 2020 One of the remarkable aspects of the Toledo rally was how variegated Trump’s anger at what comes out of his television can be, even if his target is, in many ways, an imaginary television. Amy Davidson Sorkin, The New Yorker, "In Ohio, Trump Lists the Sacrifices He Makes for the Nation," 10 Jan. 2020 Rafting through the Grand Canyon More than six million tourists visit the Grand Canyon each year, but only about 20,000 of them get to see its variegated rock cliffs and dramatic, hardscrabble scenery from the water. Jennifer Barger, National Geographic, "Trips of a lifetime: Secrets from our readers," 19 Dec. 2019

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

See More

First Known Use of variegated

1615, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for variegated

from past participle of variegate

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about variegated

Time Traveler for variegated

Time Traveler

The first known use of variegated was in 1615

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about variegated

Statistics for variegated

Cite this Entry

“Variegated.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Jan. 2021.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for variegated


How to pronounce variegated (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of variegated

: having patches, stripes, or marks of different colors
formal : including many different things : full of variety


var·​ie·​gat·​ed | \ ˈver-ē-ə-ˌgā-təd, ˈver-i-ˌgā- \

Kids Definition of variegated

1 : having patches, stripes, or marks of different colors variegated leaves
2 : full of variety

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on variegated

What made you want to look up variegated? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Slippery Words Quiz—Changing with the Times

  • ducreux self portrait yawning
  • What is an earlier meaning of nice?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!