Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. An arc of spectral colors, usually identified as red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet, that appears in the sky opposite the sun as a result of the refractive dispersion of sunlight in drops of rain or mist.
  • n. A similar arc or band, as one produced by a prism or by iridescence.
  • n. A graded display of colors.
  • n. An illusory hope: chasing the rainbow of overnight success.
  • n. A diverse assortment or collection.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A multicoloured arch in the sky, produced by prismatic refraction of light within droplets of rain in the air.
  • n. Any prismatic refraction of light showing a spectrum of colours.
  • n. A wide assortment; a varied multitude.
  • n. An illusion, mirage
  • n. A curveball, particularly a slow one
  • n. In Texas hold 'em or Omaha hold 'em, a flop that contains three different suits
  • adj. Multicoloured.
  • adj. Made up of several races or ethnicities, or (more broadly) of several cultural or ideological factions.
  • adj. LGBT.
  • adj. Composed entirely of different suits.
  • v. To pattern with many colours, like a rainbow.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A bow or arch exhibiting, in concentric bands, the several colors of the spectrum, and formed in the part of the hemisphere opposite to the sun by the refraction and reflection of the sun's rays in drops of falling rain.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To color like a rainbow, or so brightly as to suggest the rainbow; curve over or surround, as with a rainbow.
  • n. A bow, or an arc of a circle, consisting of the prismatic colors, formed by the refraction and reflection of rays of light from drops of rain or vapor, appearing in the part of the heavens opposite to the sun.
  • n. In heraldry, the representation of a half-ring divided into seven concentric narrow rings and arched upward, each end resting on a clump of clouds.
  • n. In ornithology, a humming-bird of tho genus Diphlogena, containing two most brilliantly plumaged species, D. iris of Bolivia, and D. hesperus of Ecuador.
  • n. The rainbow-fish.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. an arc of colored light in the sky caused by refraction of the sun's rays by rain
  • n. an illusory hope

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old English rēnboga : rēn, rain + boga, bow; see bow3.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old English reġnboga ("rainbow"), formed as reġn ("rain") + boga ("bow"). Cognate with Old High German reginbogo, Icelandic regnbogi and Old Norse regnbogi. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Heritage Week or Day, established in recognition of the term rainbow nation, coined by former president Mandela in 1996, came to an end in pomp and fashion on Friday night and the hundreds that came over the week witnessed culture blend with the modern world in colour, sound and taste.

    Fiji Times Online - Local News

  • All late morning and early afternoon long, Ernie puts on his cheerful song and dance routine while carefully layering the ingredients on fresh-baked buns in what he calls the rainbow effect -- a special order as to what ingredients goes on from first to last.

    Tom Keshishian: Ernie's Market: A Slice of Americana, Baby

  • Everybody know about little children all seem to be fascinated by rainbows because the rainbow is the unique phenomena for children, they always seem happy if they see rainbow.

    “Parts of a Rainbow” Chairs

  • He goes on to say that he does not expect a world flood, as the rainbow is a promise that this will not happen again.

    Man Builds Noah's Ark

  • They seem to forget that the rainbow is a symbol from the Old Testament as a covenant from God that he won't do another flood, and the Christians have also done their share of ritual theft; Holy Communion is a rip-off of the Passover seder.

    December 2006

  • And there upon the rainbow is the answer to our neverending story

    Music (For Robots): January 2005 Archives

  • Mr. Premier, some want to believe that at the end of the rainbow is a crock of gold.

    Responsible and Prudent Economic Policies

  • The inside of the rainbow is then checked off with meal; and the fetishes, consisting of clay-washed stone bears, wooden dolls painted white and adorned with turquoise ear-rings and feathers, and gray stone dolls, are placed in the checks.

    Taytay's Tales

  • He doesn’t know how the Earth’s deep, never-ending note clothes me in rainbow colors and fills my head with all the books ever written.

    The Earth Hums in B Flat: Summary and book reviews of The Earth Hums in B Flat by Mari Strachan.

  • Brian Sokol/Bloomberg A rainbow is hung on the arch of the pedestrian bridge.

    Indian Army Helps Out

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Comments

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  • Because they are cool as fuck.

    April 23, 2009

  • Does anyone know why there are so many songs about rainbows?

    April 23, 2009

  • In Dutch we say 'regenboog' but I like the Spanish word 'arco iris'.
    Last a friend gave me a beautiful quotation:
    “The soul would have no rainbow if the eyes had no tears.�?

    April 22, 2009



  • head in the clouds,
    you can spend a lot of time being
    thrashed by hurrying squalls or
    waiting
    for that oddly angular shred of sunlight
    to stab at the right moment
    to make you
    a rainbow

    January 19, 2009

  • Nancy Reagan's Secret Service code name...

    November 15, 2008

  • Citation (as a verb!) on chonta.

    June 28, 2008

  • *snort!*

    May 10, 2008

  • HA!!!

    May 10, 2008

  • That is a handy trick for working out where the sun is!

    May 10, 2008

  • If you can see a rainbow you must have your back to the sun. If you don't, you can't see it.

    May 7, 2008