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

  • n. That aspect of things that is caused by differing qualities of the light reflected or emitted by them, definable in terms of the observer or of the light, as:
  • n. The appearance of objects or light sources described in terms of the individual's perception of them, involving hue, lightness, and saturation for objects and hue, brightness, and saturation for light sources.
  • n. The characteristics of light by which the individual is made aware of objects or light sources through the receptors of the eye, described in terms of dominant wavelength, luminance, and purity.
  • n. A substance, such as a dye, pigment, or paint, that imparts a hue.
  • n. The general appearance of the skin; complexion.
  • n. A ruddy complexion.
  • n. A reddening of the face; a blush.
  • n. The skin pigmentation of a person not categorized as white.
  • n. A flag or banner, as of a country or military unit.
  • n. The salute made during the ceremony of raising or lowering a flag.
  • n. A distinguishing symbol, badge, ribbon, or mark: the colors of a college.
  • n. One's opinion or position: Stick to your colors.
  • n. Character or nature. Often used in the plural: revealed their true colors.
  • n. Outward appearance, often deceptive: a tale with the merest color of truth.
  • n. Appearance of authenticity: testimony that lends color to an otherwise absurd notion.
  • n. Variety of expression.
  • n. Vivid, picturesque detail: a story with a lot of color in it.
  • n. Traits of personality or behavior that attract interest.
  • n. The use or effect of pigment in painting, as distinct from form.
  • n. Music Quality of tone or timbre.
  • n. Law A mere semblance of legal right.
  • n. A particle or bit of gold found in auriferous gravel or sand.
  • n. Physics A quantum characteristic of quarks that determines their role in the strong interaction.
  • transitive v. To impart color to or change the color of.
  • transitive v. To give a distinctive character or quality to; modify. See Synonyms at bias.
  • transitive v. To exert an influence on; affect: The war colored the soldier's life.
  • transitive v. To misrepresent, especially by distortion or exaggeration: color the facts.
  • transitive v. To gloss over; excuse: a parent who colored the children's lies.
  • intransitive v. To take on color.
  • intransitive v. To change color.
  • intransitive v. To become red in the face; blush.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The spectral composition of visible light
  • n. A particular set of visible spectral compositions, perceived or named as a class; blee.
  • n. Hue as opposed to achromatic colors (black, white and grays).
  • n. Human skin tone, especially as an indicator of race or ethnicity.
  • n. Interest, especially in a selective area.
  • n. Any of the standard dark tinctures used in a coat of arms, including azure, gules, sable, and vert. Contrast with metal.
  • n. A standard or banner.
  • n. The system of color television.
  • n. An award for sporting achievement, particularly within a school or university.
  • n. In corporate finance, details on sales, profit margins, or other financial figures, especially while reviewing quarterly results when an officer of a company is speaking to investment analysts.
  • n. A property of quarks, with three values called red, green, and blue, which they can exchange by passing gluons.
  • n. The relative lightness or darkness of a mass of written or printed text on a page.
  • n. Any of the colored balls excluding the reds.
  • n. A front or facade: an ostensible truth actually false.
  • n. An appearance of right or authority.
  • n. Skin color noted as: normal, jaundice, cyanotic, flush, mottled, pale, or ashen as part of the skin signs assessment.
  • adj. Conveying color, as opposed to shades of gray.
  • v. To give something color.
  • v. To apply colors to the areas within the boundaries of a line drawing using colored markers or crayons.
  • v. To become red through increased blood flow.
  • v. To affect without completely changing.
  • v. To attribute a quality to.
  • v. To assign colors to the vertices of (a graph) or the regions of (a map) so that no two adjacent ones have the same color.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A property depending on the relations of light to the eye, by which individual and specific differences in the hues and tints of objects are apprehended in vision
  • n. Any hue distinguished from white or black.
  • n. The hue or color characteristic of good health and spirits; ruddy complexion.
  • n. That which is used to give color; a paint; a pigment.
  • n. That which covers or hides the real character of anything; semblance; excuse; disguise; appearance.
  • n. Shade or variety of character; kind; species.
  • n. A distinguishing badge, as a flag or similar symbol (usually in the plural).
  • n. An apparent right; as where the defendant in trespass gave to the plaintiff an appearance of title, by stating his title specially, thus removing the cause from the jury to the court.
  • intransitive v. To acquire color; to turn red, especially in the face; to blush.
  • transitive v. To change or alter the hue or tint of, by dyeing, staining, painting, etc.; to dye; to tinge; to paint; to stain.
  • transitive v. To change or alter, as if by dyeing or painting; to give a false appearance to; usually, to give a specious appearance to; to cause to appear attractive; to make plausible; to palliate or excuse.
  • transitive v. To hide.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To give or apply a color to; change or alter the color or hue of; dye; tinge; paint; stain.
  • Figuratively— To cause to appear different from the reality; give a specious appearance to; set in a fair light; palliate; excuse; make plausible.
  • To give a special character or distinguishing quality to, analogous to color in a material object.
  • To become red in the face; flush; blush: as, he colored from bashfulness: often followed by up.
  • n. Objectively, that quality of a thing or appearance which is perceived by the eye alone, independently of the form of the thing; subjectively, a sensation, or the class of sensations, peculiar to the organ of vision, and arising from stimulation of the optic nerve.
  • n. In painting: The general effect of all the hues entering into the composition of a picture.
  • n. An effect of brilliancy combined with harmony: said either of a work in different colors or of a work in monochrome, or of an engraving: as, the picture has no color; the engraving is full of color.
  • n. Any distinguishing hue, or the condition of having a distinguishing hue—that is, a hue different from that which prevails among objects of the kind concerned, whether the prevailing hue be positive, as green, or neutral or negative, as white or black; hence, in a picture or view, or in a fabric or other material dyed or painted, any hue, especially a pure tint (often implying a vivid one), other than black and white; in human beings, from the standpoint of the white races, a hue or complexion other than white, and especially black; in botany, any hue except green. See colored, 2.
  • n. The natural hue of the face; a red or reddish tint; flush; blush; complexion in general.
  • n. That which is used for coloring; a pigment; paint.
  • n. plural A flag, ensign, or standard, such as is borne in a military body, or by a ship: so called from being usually marked by a particular combination of colors: sometimes used as a singular noun. See flag.
  • n. A distinctive marking by color or colors, as of a badge or dress; specially colored insignia; hence, any symbol or mark of identification: as, the colors of a party; the colors of a boxer; the colors of a rider or an owner in a horserace.
  • n. An ornament of style.
  • n. Kind; sort; variety; character; description.
  • n. Appearance; aspect.
  • n. That which serves to hide the real character of something and give a false appearance; mere appearance; false show; pretense; guise.
  • n. Reason; ground; especially, good reason; excuse.
  • n. An apparent or prima facie right, pretext, or ground: especially used in legal phraseology, and commonly implying falsity or some defect of strict right: as, to extort money under color of office; to hold possession under color of title.
  • n. In mining, a particle or scale of gold, as shown when auriferous gravel or sand is panned or washed out with the batea or horn-spoon.
  • n. In phrenology, one of the perceptive faculties, its supposed function being that of giving the power of perceiving colors or of distinguishing their shades.
  • n. In heraldry See tincture.
  • n. Animation; vividness.
  • n. In music: The various rhythmic, melodic, or harmonic characteristics in a composition which constitute its individuality, as variations in rhythm, melodic decorations or figures, intentional discords, etc. The use of the term is traceable to the early use of colored lines to assist in the interpretation of the neumæ, and also of colored notes and other signs in the mensural-music.
  • n. The timbre or quality of a musical tone. See timbre.
  • n. Redness of the complexion.
  • n. A general system of light and shadow upon which the modeling and tinting of details is executed; chiaroscuro.
  • n. Distinct characteristics, peculiarities, or individuality: said of a place, a country, a period, etc.
  • n. Hence— Analogous characteristics in a literary composition.
  • n. The colors red, yellow, and blue, from the mixture of which it was erroneously supposed (from the facts of the mechanical mixture of pigments) all other colors could be produced.
  • n. The red, green, and violet light of the spectrum, from the mixture of which all other colors can be produced. Also called fundamental colors.
  • n. Any very brilliant or decided color.
  • n. In painting, color in which each hue is lighted or shaded only with a modification of itself, and not with a totally different hue. Thus, a brick wall painted in pure color will be red in both sunlight and shadow, as distinguished from a representation of such a wall as red in the sun, and blue, gray, or brown in the shade.
  • n. A painting done in such pigments.
  • n. Synonyms Shade, Tint, etc. See hue.
  • n. Plea, pretext, semblance, disguise.
  • n. plural In faro, a system of play by which the cards bet upon are selected according to the color of the first winner or first loser.
  • n. plural The commission of ensign in the British military service; usually a pair of colours.
  • n. In calico-printing, any mordant or pigment that is printed on cloth, made into a paste by means of some thickening substance, as starch, gum, etc.
  • n. Color which has no reflections.

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

  • n. the timbre of a musical sound
  • n. a race with skin pigmentation different from the white race (especially Blacks)
  • adj. having or capable of producing colors
  • n. any material used for its color
  • v. give a deceptive explanation or excuse for
  • n. the appearance of objects (or light sources) described in terms of a person's perception of their hue and lightness (or brightness) and saturation
  • v. change color, often in an undesired manner
  • v. decorate with colors
  • n. a visual attribute of things that results from the light they emit or transmit or reflect
  • v. affect as in thought or feeling
  • v. add color to
  • n. interest and variety and intensity
  • n. (physics) the characteristic of quarks that determines their role in the strong interaction
  • n. an outward or token appearance or form that is deliberately misleading
  • v. modify or bias


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

Middle English colour, from Old French, from Latin color.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Middle English colo(u)r, from Anglo-Norman colur, from Old French colour, color, from Latin color, from Old Latin colos "covering", from Proto-Indo-European *kel- (“to cover, conceal”). Akin to Latin cēlō ("I hide, conceal"). Displaced Middle English blee ("color"), from Old English blēo. More at blee.



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  • A friend of mine, a linguist, has a very unusual blog – especially for a linguist: Colors words.

    February 11, 2009

  • interesting. . .

    June 20, 2007

  • etymologic derivation is from "to hide" as in conceal

    June 20, 2007

  • UK Spelling: Colour

    December 9, 2006