• synonyms


[ash-uh n]
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  1. ash-colored; gray.
  2. extremely pale; drained of color; pallid: His face was ashen.
  3. consisting of ashes.

Origin of ashen1

Middle English word dating back to 1350–1400; see origin at ash1, -en2


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1. ashy. 2. pasty, colorless.


[ash-uh n]
  1. pertaining to the ash tree or its timber.
  2. made of wood from the ash tree.

Origin of ashen2

before 1000; Middle English, Old English; see ash2, -en2
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for ashen

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Slowly, faintly, the colour crept back into that ashen face.

    Captain Blood

    Rafael Sabatini

  • From red that she had been, she was now ashen under her rouge.

    The Lion's Skin

    Rafael Sabatini

  • She stared at him with an ashen face and gulped twice before she could speak.

  • At noon there was no sunshine, only a wan, ashen light that suffused the sky.

    The Trail of '98

    Robert W. Service

  • My face must have been ashen, for Sam put a hand on my shoulder.

    The Pirate of Panama

    William MacLeod Raine

British Dictionary definitions for ashen


  1. drained of colour; pallid
  2. consisting of or resembling ashes
  3. of a pale greyish colour


  1. of, relating to, or made from the ash tree or its timber
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for ashen


"made of ash wood," c.1300; see ash (n.2) + -en (2); meaning "ash-colored, whitish-gray, deadly pale" is 1808, from ash (n.1).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper