Dictionary.com
definitions
  • synonyms

pastel1

[pa-stel; especially British pas-tl]
See more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
noun
  1. a color having a soft, subdued shade.
  2. a kind of dried paste made of pigments ground with chalk and compounded with gum water.
  3. a chalklike crayon made from such paste.
  4. the art of drawing with such crayons.
  5. a drawing so made.
  6. a short, light prose study or sketch.
adjective
  1. having a soft, subdued shade.
  2. drawn with pastels: a pastel portrait.

Origin of pastel1

1655–65; < French < Italian pastello < Late Latin pastellus, variant of Latin pastillus (see pastille)

pastel2

[pas-tel]
noun
  1. the woad plant.
  2. the dye made from it.

Origin of pastel2

1570–80; < Middle French < Provençal < Medieval Latin pastellum (neuter) woad (orig. woad paste), for Late Latin pastellus (masculine), diminutive of pasta paste; change of gender by influence of Latin glastum woad
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for pastel

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • This was painted from life in pastel, by William Williams, at Philadelphia in 1794.

  • The tunnel entrance glowed with the pastel radiance from the rocks.

    The World Beyond

    Raymond King Cummings

  • It was all right if you shut your eyes, for Miriam wasn't what you'd call a pastel.

    Shorty McCabe

    Sewell Ford

  • Fields fled beneath them, looking like a crazy-quilt in pastel.

    Breaking Point</p>

    James E. Gunn

  • A pastel that I have just begun—the portrait of the Princesse de Ponteve.

    Strong as Death

    Guy de Maupassant


British Dictionary definitions for pastel

pastel

noun
    1. a substance made of ground pigment bound with gum, used for making sticks for drawing
    2. a crayon of this
    3. a drawing done in such crayons
  1. the medium or technique of pastel drawing
  2. a pale delicate colour
  3. a light prose work, esp a poetic one
  4. another name for woad
adjective
  1. (of a colour) pale; delicatepastel blue
Derived Formspastelist or pastellist, noun

Word Origin

C17: via French from Italian pastello, from Late Latin pastellus woad compounded into a paste, diminutive of pasta paste 1
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 pastel

n.

1660s, "crayons, chalk-like pigment used in crayons," from French pastel "crayon," from Italian pastello "a pastel," literally "material reduced to a paste," from Late Latin pastellus "dye from the leaves of the woad plant," diminutive of pasta (see pasta). Meaning "pale or light color" (like that of pastels) first recorded 1899. As an adjective from 1884.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper