warning coloration


: conspicuous markings or bright colors possessed by an animal that serve as a warning to potential predators that it is toxic or distasteful
The vivid orange, red, black and white color patterns on the wings are a monarch's advertisement to potential predators. This warning coloration enables a bird such as a blue jay, which might eat one poisonous monarch and become ill, to recognize and avoid the butterfly by sight alone in the future.Marcia Davis

Examples of warning coloration in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Zoologists say the warning coloration helps the small mammal deter predators. Natasha Daly, National Geographic, 12 Jan. 2023 Why don't other animals copy this warning coloration? Elizabeth Preston, Discover Magazine, 23 June 2011 The striking bright blues, yellows, and oranges of poison dart frogs are a classic example of warning coloration, sending a message to predators to stay away. Michael Allen, Science | AAAS, 13 June 2018

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

Word History

First Known Use

1928, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of warning coloration was in 1928

Dictionary Entries Near warning coloration

Cite this Entry

“Warning coloration.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/warning%20coloration. Accessed 13 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition

warning coloration

: bright color patterns on an animal (as an insect) that serve to warn possible predators that the animal is undesirable as prey (as by being poisonous or bad-tasting)

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