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

  • n. A cover for a coffin, bier, or tomb, often made of black, purple, or white velvet.
  • n. A coffin, especially one being carried to a grave or tomb.
  • n. A covering that darkens or obscures: a pall of smoke over the city.
  • n. A gloomy effect or atmosphere: "A pall of depressed indifference hung over Petrograd during February and March 1916” ( W. Bruce Lincoln).
  • n. Ecclesiastical A linen cloth or a square of cardboard faced with cloth used to cover the chalice.
  • n. Ecclesiastical See pallium.
  • transitive v. To cover with or as if with a pall.
  • intransitive v. To become insipid, boring, or wearisome.
  • intransitive v. To have a dulling, wearisome, or boring effect.
  • intransitive v. To become cloyed or satiated.
  • transitive v. To cloy; satiate.
  • transitive v. To make vapid or wearisome.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. fine cloth, especially purple cloth used for robes
  • n. a cloth used for various purposes on the altar in a church
  • n. a heavy canvas, especially laid over a coffin or tomb
  • n. nausea
  • v. to make vapid or insipid; to make lifeless or spiritless; to dull; to weaken

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Same as pawl.
  • n. An outer garment; a cloak mantle.
  • n. A kind of rich stuff used for garments in the Middle Ages.
  • n. Same as Pallium.
  • n. A figure resembling the Roman Catholic pallium, or pall, and having the form of the letter Y.
  • n. A large cloth, esp., a heavy black cloth, thrown over a coffin at a funeral; sometimes, also, over a tomb.
  • n. A piece of cardboard, covered with linen and embroidered on one side; -- used to put over the chalice.
  • n. Nausea.
  • intransitive v. To become vapid, tasteless, dull, or insipid; to lose strength, life, spirit, or taste.
  • transitive v. To cloak.
  • transitive v. To make vapid or insipid; to make lifeless or spiritless; to dull; to weaken.
  • transitive v. To satiate; to cloy.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To cover with or as with a pall; cover or invest; shroud.
  • To become vapid, as wine or ale; lose taste, life, or spirit; become insipid; hence, to become distasteful, wearisome, etc.
  • To make vapid or insipid.
  • To make spiritless; dispirit; depress; weaken; impair.
  • To knock; knock down; beat; thrust.
  • n. An outer garment; a cloak; a mantle.
  • n. Specifically — A robe put on a king at his coronation.
  • n. Same as pallium, 2.
  • n. Fine cloth, such as was used for the robes of nobles. Also called cloth of pall.
  • n. A curtain or covering.
  • n. Specifically— A cloth or covering thrown over a coffin, bier, tomb, etc.: as, a funeral pall. At the present time this is black, purple, or white; it is sometimes enriched with embroidery or with heraldic devices.
  • n. A canopy.
  • n. An altar-cloth.
  • n. A linen altar-cloth; especially, a corporal.
  • n. A linen cloth used to cover the chalice; a chalice-pall. This is now the usual meaning of pall as a piece of altar-linen. Formerly one corner of the corporal covered the chalice; the use of a separate pall, however, is as old as the twelfth century. The pall is now a small square piece of cardboard faced on both sides with linen or lawn. In carrying the holy vessels to and from the altar, the pall, covered with the veil, supports the burse, and itself rests on the paten and the paten on the chalice.
  • n. A covering of silk or other material for the front of an altar; a frontal.
  • n. Figuratively, gloom: in allusion to the funeral pall.
  • n. In heraldry, the suggestion of an episcopal pall; a Y-shaped form, said to be composed of half a saltier and half a pale, and therefore in width one fifth of the height of the escutcheon: it is sometimes, though rarely, represented reversed, and is always charged with crosses patté fitché to express its ecclesiastical origin. Also pairle.
  • n. Nausea or nauseation.
  • n. See pawl.
  • n. In India, a small tent made by stretching canvas or cotton stuff over a ridge-pole supported on uprights.
  • n. See pal.

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

  • v. cause to lose courage
  • n. burial garment in which a corpse is wrapped
  • v. lose strength or effectiveness; become or appear boring, insipid, or tiresome (to)
  • v. cover with a pall
  • v. become less interesting or attractive
  • v. cause surfeit through excess though initially pleasing
  • v. cause to become flat
  • v. lose sparkle or bouquet
  • v. lose interest or become bored with something or somebody
  • n. hanging cloth used as a blind (especially for a window)
  • n. a sudden numbing dread


Middle English pal, from Old English pæll, cloak, covering, from Latin pallium.
Middle English pallen, to grow feeble, probably short for appallen; see appall.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Old English pæll, from Latin pallium ‘cloak, covering’. (Wiktionary)
Aphetism from appall. (Wiktionary)


  • But to me one of the most troubling aspects of the current administration's pall is the attempt by its followers to supress any kind of dissent, especially if it is laced with humor.

    January 2004

  • It was almost impossible to people, in fancy, the tattered and neglected churchyard of Beaconsfield as it now is -- with those who swelled the funeral pomp of the greatest ornament of the British senate; to imagine the titled pall-bearers, where the swine were tumbling over graves, and rooting at headstones.

    The International Magazine, Volume 2, No. 2, January, 1851

  • The government, meanwhile, was to auction 15 billion pounds $2.5 billion in Treasury bills on Monday, a step that economists expected would draw in mostly domestic banks after the protests of the past couple of weeks appeared likely to cast an at least short-term pall on the investment climate in the country.

    The Seattle Times

  • The government, meanwhile, was to auction 15 billion pounds in Treasury bills on Monday, a step that economists expected would draw in mostly domestic banks after the protests of the past couple of weeks appeared likely to cast an at least short-term pall on the investment climate in the country.

    Yahoo! News: Business - Opinion

  • Reynolds, the favourite of Edward II., but it also affords food for discussion, as there is no trace of the "pall" -- a Y-shaped strip of lamb's wool marked with crosses, a special mark of metropolitan dignity which was sent to each primate by the Pope -- on the vestments of the effigy.

    The Cathedral Church of Canterbury [2nd ed.].

  • I can still recall the pall of fear that spread over the town. ­

    Evil Called at School

  • He then covers this host with a white card, called a pall, after which he covers the chalice and all with a square cloth or veil that matches the vestments.

    Baltimore Catechism No. 4 (of 4) An Explanation of the Baltimore Catechism of Christian Doctrine

  • The pall is a small square of stiffened linen ornamented with a cross, which is laid upon the orifice of the chalice to protect its contents from flies or dust.

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 3: Brownson-Clairvaux

  • [507] The pall is a sort of collar, made of lamb's wool, which every metropolitan is required to obtain from the Pope, and without which he cannot exercise his functions.

    St. Bernard of Clairvaux's Life of St. Malachy of Armagh

  • They still possess their pall, which is used on the occasion of the funeral of deceased members, and also "two garlands of crimson velvet embroidered" bearing the date

    The Parish Clerk


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  • "Often far away there I thought of these two, guarding the door of darkness, knitting black wool as for a warm pall..." --Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

    March 5, 2011

  • "An altar cloth is used by various religious groups to cover an altar." --Wikipedia

    February 10, 2009

  • All stubble is being burned, a chiffon pall
    is settling over round flesh-tiny hills, it seems haunches
    of supine bodies unbreathing after a fall.

    - Peter Reading, Burning Stubble, from For the Municipality's Elderly, 1974

    June 22, 2008