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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. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for sallowness
Historical Examples
  • Sallow is the reverse of healthy in proportion to the sallowness, as a usual thing.

    Fletcherism Horace Fletcher
  • The skin becomes like leather; the colour of the cheeks is replaced by sallowness.

    Degeneracy Eugene S. Talbot
  • The sallowness had left his face and a slight color appeared in his cheeks.

    The Bachelors William Dana Orcutt
  • His natural colour is restored, and the sallowness is quite gone.

    Fletcher of Madeley Frederic W. Macdonald
  • The careworn look had gone from his eyes, the sallowness from his complexion.

    A Lost Leader

    E. Phillips Oppenheim
  • There was nothing unhealthy in her clear pallor, no hint of sallowness, but a soft, white glow.

    Narcissa, or the Road to Rome Laura E. Richards
  • He had outgrown the sallowness of early ill health, and had a fresh, brilliant complexion.

  • She noted the deep-orange stain on fingers as well as the twitching of muscles and sallowness of skin that came from nicotine.

    The Woodcraft Girls at Camp

    Lillian Elizabeth Roy
  • The other, though possessing unrivalled beauty, is apt to impart a sallowness to the skin by frequent use.

  • The sallowness of his impassive face had increased somewhat, and his long thin hands had their old lackadaisical air.

    Hugo Arnold Bennett
British Dictionary definitions for sallowness


(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 sallowness



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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sallowness 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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