from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Having color.
  • adjective Of or belonging to a racial group not categorized as white.
  • adjective Black or African-American.
  • adjective Of mixed racial descent.
  • adjective South African Of or belonging to a population grouping made up of persons of mixed racial descent or of certain other nonwhite descent, especially as distinguished during apartheid from blacks, Asians, or whites.
  • adjective Distorted or biased, as by irrelevant or incorrect information.
  • noun A person belonging to a racial group not categorized as white.
  • noun A black person, especially an African American.
  • noun A person of mixed racial descent.
  • noun South African A person belonging to the Coloured population grouping, especially during apartheid.
  • noun Pieces of laundry that are not light in color.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Having a color; dyed; tinged; painted or stained.
  • Having a distinguishing hue.
  • In botany, of any hue but green: as, a colored leaf.
  • Having a dark or black color of the skin; black or mulatto; specifically, in the United States, belonging wholly or partly to the African race; having or partaking of the color of the negro. In census-tables, etc., the term is often used to include Indians, Chinese, etc.
  • Hence— Of or pertaining to the negroes, or to persons partly of negro origin: as, the colored vote.
  • Having a specious appearance; deceptive: as, a colored statement.—Colored glass. See glass.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Having color; tinged; dyed; painted; stained.
  • adjective Specious; plausible; adorned so as to appear well.
  • adjective Of some other color than black or white.
  • adjective (Ethnol.) Of some other color than white; having a skin color darker than that of caucasian people; mostly applied to negroes or persons having negro blood. Opposite of white and caucasian.
  • adjective (Bot.) Of some other color than green.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective Having a particular color or kind of color.
  • adjective Having prominent colors; colorful.
  • adjective Influenced pervasively but subtly.
  • adjective US, older usage, now demeaning Of skin color other than the white, particularly black.
  • adjective South Africa, potentially offensive Of neither black nor white skin color.
  • noun A colored person.
  • noun A colored article of clothing.
  • verb Simple past tense and past participle of color.

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

  • adjective having color or a certain color; sometimes used in combination
  • adjective having skin rich in melanin pigments
  • noun a United States term for Blacks that is now considered offensive
  • adjective (used of color) artificially produced; not natural
  • adjective favoring one person or side over another


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • I said somewhere in the early part of this narrative that because the colored man looked at everything through the prism of his relationship to society as a _colored_ man, and because most of his mental efforts ran through the narrow channel bounded by his rights and his wrongs, it was to be wondered at that he has progressed so broadly as he has.

    The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man

  • ˜colored™ because it is impossible for something to be red and not colored.

    Determinates vs. Determinables

  • According to journalist Clifton Johnson in 1904, the word was used to refer to blacks in the South and was chosen primarily for it's derogatory value, being considered more offensive than the term "colored," another term commonly used to refer to people of African descent at the time.

    Hayley Rose Horzepa: The N-Word, The B-Word, and Rihanna

  • In some parts of Africa, the word colored is applied to those of mixed white and black ancestry.

    Essential Guide to Business Style and Usage

  • In some parts of Africa, the word colored is applied to those of mixed white and black ancestry.

    Essential Guide to Business Style and Usage

  • It's an absurd reaction to the phrase 'colored people' but is, in effect, the same thing.

    The Full Feed from

  • Additionally, what he failed to consider is that this country has made the term "colored" inappropriate because of the social and cultural context with which it was used.

    The Full Feed from

  • It is inconceivable to me how a person can add syllables to the word "colored," yet Howard found a way.

    Rodney Barnes: Red Tails

  • It is inconceivable to me how a person can add syllables to the word "colored," yet Howard found a way.

    Rodney Barnes: Red Tails

  • It is inconceivable to me how a person can add syllables to the word "colored," yet Howard found a way.

    Rodney Barnes: Red Tails


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  • as an insult, it has an inherent kick in the ass for the hurlers thereof.

    May 1, 2009

  • It's always seemed weird to me that it is part of the group NAACP. Rappers calling each other the n-word is one thing, but that and the United Negro College Fund seem very different.

    May 2, 2009

  • 'colored' has, in my eyes, always been one of those words that ran away from its origins as an insult and assumed compelling descriptive power. I find the phrase 'advancement of colored people' sophisticated and quite moving.

    May 7, 2009

  • "In North America, some of the most enthusiastic customers for the new colors were immigrants from southern and eastern Europe, who had started to arrive in the United States in huge numbers just as synthetic dyes became widely available. Many eagerly bought brightly dyed dresses and other clothing, often because it had been associated with high status in their homelands. This affinity, especially on the part of Jewish immigrants, did not escape notice from journalists, who sometimes criticized and sometimes rhapsodized about what, according to them, was a 'racial love' for color.

    "In both Europe and North America, vivid colors also became associated with people of African and Asian descent, and with indigenous peoples on many continents. It is possible that linguistics may in part account for this: In English, for example, the adjective colored had been a racial term for nonwhite people from the early 1600s, and the terms Red Indian and yellow race date back at least to the early 1800s. But despite the existence of these terms, it seems that Europeans associated bright colors--especially in clothing--far more with wealthy whites than with any other group until the mid-nineteenth-century. Only then, as cochineal and other bright dyes became ever cheaper, did vivid clothing, especially in red, acquire other racial connotations."

    Amy Butler Greenfield, A Perfect Red: Empire, Espionage, and the Quest for the Color of Desire (New York: Harper Collins, 2005), 250-251.

    See also colorless, Carmen, and snazzy.

    October 6, 2017