\ ˈpāl How to pronounce pale (audio) \
paler; palest

Definition of pale

 (Entry 1 of 5)

1a : deficient in color or intensity of color : pallid a pale complexion
b(1) : having color of reduced saturation (see saturation sense 4a) a pale pink
(2) : light in color especially relative to others of its kind pale beers
2 : not bright or brilliant : dim a pale sun shining through the fog
3 : feeble, faint a pale imitation


verb (1)
paled; paling

Definition of pale (Entry 2 of 5)

intransitive verb

: to become pale

transitive verb

: to make pale



Definition of pale (Entry 3 of 5)

1 : an area or the limits within which one is privileged or protected (as from censure) conduct that was beyond the pale
2a : a space or field having bounds : enclosure The cattle were led into the pale.
b : a territory or district within certain bounds or under a particular jurisdiction British culture survived even within the Roman pale.
3a : one of the stakes of a palisade
4 : a perpendicular stripe on a heraldic shield
5 archaic : palisade, paling


verb (2)
paled; paling

Definition of pale (Entry 4 of 5)

transitive verb

: to enclose with pales : fence

Definition of pale- (Entry 5 of 5)

— see paleo-

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Other Words from pale


palely \ ˈpāl-​lē How to pronounce pale- (audio) \ adverb
paleness \ ˈpāl-​nəs How to pronounce pale- (audio) \ noun
palish \ ˈpā-​lish How to pronounce pale- (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for pale

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

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Examples of pale in a Sentence

Adjective the pale wood of the table The walls were painted a pale blue. She has a pale complexion. Her illness had left her pale and weak. She grew pale with fright. Are you feeling well? You look pale. the pale light of dawn
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Peter Philips embellished pale peach pouts with layers upon layers of holographic sequins. Lauren Valenti, Vogue, 6 Oct. 2021 While the blender is running, drizzle in ⅔ cup extra-virgin olive oil and blend until the mixture turns from pale red to orange. Bon Appétit, 13 Aug. 2021 The milky taro, filled with chunks of the pale purple root and tiny sago pearls, is a standout. Janelle Bitker, San Francisco Chronicle, 1 Oct. 2021 Her pale yellow, floor-length Miu Miu gown had a deep-V neckline and was covered in shimmering crystals. Christian Allaire, Vogue, 27 Sep. 2021 Firm sweet potatoes typically have thin skins and pale flesh, and, unsurprisingly, will remain firm when cooked. Washington Post, 24 Sep. 2021 The imprint of that experience remains strong in Amant’s bright lighting, chunky concrete, steel mesh, and pale palette, which ranges from white to taupe. Justin Davidson, Curbed, 23 Sep. 2021 My father designed the salon’s large Persian-style carpet in pale blue, stone yellow, pink, and bronze. India Hicks, House Beautiful, 23 Sep. 2021 In the distance, lightning pierces the clamorous pale cerulean sky crowning pristine turquoise water, conjuring a duality of apprehension and yearning. Natasha Gural, Forbes, 17 Sep. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Like Manchin, Sinema could dictate terms that even progressives who are reluctantly ready to trim their aspirations may still view as beyond the pale. Stephen Collinson, CNN, 6 Oct. 2021 Otherwise, voters who like a governor’s agenda but dislike the person behind it might find themselves in a no-win situation, particularly if the politician’s behavior has been beyond the pale. John Myers, Los Angeles Times, 13 Sep. 2021 Such as, to take a recent example, who was investigated for raising the possibility that Covid-19 resulted from a lab accident, which until very recently was considered racist beyond the pale. David Marchesephotograph By Mamadi Doumbouya, New York Times, 3 Sep. 2021 His involvement today with surveys examining students’ mental health is beyond the pale. Sam Dorman, Fox News, 8 Sep. 2021 What Newsom is doing with vaccine and mask mandates is completely beyond the pale of what any governor should do. Los Angeles Times, 5 Sep. 2021 What might have been ground-breaking once might soon be seen to be beyond the pale. Roger Trapp, Forbes, 31 Aug. 2021 So many Libyans seem to exist beyond the pale of his sympathy. New York Times, 30 July 2021 Such rhetoric makes Horowitz an enemy of the open society and beyond the pale of rational political discourse. Ronald Radosh, The New Republic, 5 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb But to some extent those agenda items pale in comparison to the magnitude of the item Congress needs to begin dealing with this week: The debt ceiling. Lauren Fox, CNN, 4 Oct. 2021 Such conflicts of interest highlight the role of a discourse on the need for more regulation and control – typical issues in emerging high-attention spaces, though such growing pains of NFTs are poised to pale in comparison with their growing gains. Hannah M. Mayer, Forbes, 3 Sep. 2021 Such severe weather events are a reminder that the pandemic supply-chain ruptures may pale compared with those which will be associated with the climate crisis in coming years. Amy Davidson Sorkin, The New Yorker, 26 Sep. 2021 White ceilings with beige walls will automatically make a room look higher; the same applies to pale blue with navy blue or even black, to beige with red. Kelly Allen, House Beautiful, 4 June 2021 Even when adjusted for inflation, past deals seem to pale in comparison. Phillip Molnar, San Diego Union-Tribune, 11 May 2021 But these monetary awards still pale in comparison to what male competitors have been offered. Courtney Vinopal, Quartz, 15 Sep. 2021 Those proposals, however, still pale in comparison to the comprehensive hydrogen roadmaps that many other countries, such as Australia, Chile, Japan, and the European Union, have developed. Josh Siegel, Washington Examiner, 19 Apr. 2021 But sometimes, all of these perks pale beside the sense of being surrounded by joy. Peter Terzian, Travel + Leisure, 8 Sep. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'pale.' 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 pale


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb (1)

14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense


12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 5

Verb (2)

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for pale


Middle English pale, paal, palle, borrowed from Anglo-French pale, palle, paille (also continental Old French), borrowed (with loss of unstressed -id-) from Latin pallidus "pale, colorless," formed with the adjective suffix -idus from the same base as pallēre "to be pale or bloodless, have a pale color," pallor "paleness of complexion, loss of color" — more at fallow entry 1

Verb (1)

Middle English palen, borrowed from Anglo-French palir (continental Old French palir, paloïr), going back (with conjugation change) to Latin pallēscere "to grow pale, turn a pale color," inchoative derivative of pallēre "to be pale or bloodless, have a pale color" — more at fallow entry 1

Noun and Verb (2)

Middle English, from Anglo-French pel, pal stake, from Latin palus — more at pole

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Time Traveler for pale

Time Traveler

The first known use of pale was in the 12th century

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Statistics for pale

Last Updated

19 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Pale.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for pale



English Language Learners Definition of pale

: light in color
: having a skin color that is closer to white than is usual or normal
: not bright or intense : dim


\ ˈpāl How to pronounce pale (audio) \
paler; palest

Kids Definition of pale

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : having very light skin
2 : having a lighter skin color than normal because of sickness or fear
3 : not bright or brilliant a pale star
4 : light in color or shade pale pink

Other Words from pale

paleness noun


paled; paling

Kids Definition of pale (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to lose color She paled when the wound was described to her.
2 : to make or become less adequate, impressive, or intense My science project paled in comparison to those of the other students.


\ ˈpā(ə)l How to pronounce pale (audio) \
paler; palest

Medical Definition of pale

: deficient in color or intensity of color a pale face

Other Words from pale

paleness \ -​nəs How to pronounce pale (audio) \ noun

More from Merriam-Webster on pale

Nglish: Translation of pale for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pale for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about pale


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