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[sal-oh] /ˈsæl oʊ/
adjective, sallower, sallowest.
of a sickly, yellowish or lightish brown color:
sallow cheeks; a sallow complexion.
verb (used with object)
to make sallow.
Origin of sallow1
before 1000; Middle English sal(o)we, Old English salo; cognate with Old Norse sǫlr yellow; compare French sale dirty (< Gmc)
Related forms
sallowish, adjective
sallowness, noun
1. bilious, jaundiced.


[sal-oh] /ˈsæl oʊ/
noun, British.
any of several shrubby Old World willows, especially Salix atrocinerea or the pussy willow, S. caprea.
before 900; Middle English; Old English sealh; cognate with Old High German salaha, Latin salix Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for sallow
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • They were hard-featured men, sallow of complexion, rigid in their looks.

  • Her face was sallow and dry, and the luster had gone from her black hair.

  • The perspiration stood in beads on the boy's sallow forehead; but he said nothing.

  • His cheek was sallow, his nose aquiline, his mouth compressed.

    Vivian Grey Earl of Beaconsfield, Benjamin Disraeli
  • Under his ruddy tan his skin was no longer fresh, but dull and sallow.

    Louisiana Lou William West Winter
  • "The tribunal will inform you," replied the familiar—a tall, sallow, elderly man.

    The Strolling Saint Raphael Sabatini
  • He paused, his sallow face flushed with the enthusiasm of his idea.

    Scaramouche Rafael Sabatini
British Dictionary definitions for sallow


(esp of human skin) of an unhealthy pale or yellowish colour
(transitive) to make sallow
Derived Forms
sallowish, adjective
sallowly, adverb
sallowness, noun
Word Origin
Old English salu; related to Old Norse sol seaweed (Icelandic sōlr yellowish), Old High German salo, French sale dirty


any of several small willow trees, esp the Eurasian Salix cinerea (common sallow), which has large catkins that appear before the leaves
a twig or the wood of any of these trees
Derived Forms
sallowy, adjective
Word Origin
Old English sealh; related to Old Norse selja, Old High German salaha, Middle Low German salwīde, Latin salix
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
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Word Origin and History for sallow

Old English salo "dusky, dark" (related to sol "dark, dirty"), from Proto-Germanic *salwa- (cf. Middle Dutch salu "discolored, dirty," Old High German salo "dirty gray," Old Norse sölr "dirty yellow"), from PIE root *sal- "dirty, gray" (cf. Old Church Slavonic slavojocije "grayish-blue color," Russian solovoj "cream-colored"). Related: Sallowness.


"shrubby willow plant," Old English sealh (Anglian salh), from Proto-Germanic *salhjon (cf. Old Norse selja, Old High German salaha, and first element in German compound Salweide), from PIE *sal(i)k- "willow" (cf. Latin salix "willow," Middle Irish sail, Welsh helygen, Breton halegen "willow"). French saule "willow" is from Frankish salha, from the Germanic root. Used in Palm Sunday processions and decorations in England before the importing of real palm leaves began.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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sallow in Medicine

sallow sal·low (sāl'ō)
adj. sal·low·er, sal·low·est
Of a sickly yellowish hue or complexion. v. sal·lowed, sal·low·ing, sal·lows
To make sallow.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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