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war paint

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noun
  1. paint applied by American Indians to their faces and bodies before going to war.
  2. Informal. makeup; cosmetics.
  3. Informal. full dress; regalia.

Origin of war paint

An Americanism dating back to 1820–30
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for war paint

Historical Examples

  • They are in my chamber, together with the feathers and war-paint and the other things.

    Daughters of the Revolution and Their Times

    Charles Carleton Coffin

  • Many of them were known to Chalmers as savages in feathers and war-paint.

    A Handful of Stars

    Frank W. Boreham

  • The tonsure of his hair, the cut of his moccasins, his war-paint, enabled Carlos to tell this.

    The White Chief

    Mayne Reid

  • He was a savage, in the war-paint and panoply of a Blackfoot brave.

    The Prairie Chief

    R.M. Ballantyne

  • They were not made hideous by war-paint, as Jack Cockrell was quick to note.

    Blackbeard: Buccaneer

    Ralph D. Paine


British Dictionary definitions for war paint

war paint

noun
  1. painted decoration of the face and body applied by certain North American Indians before battle
  2. informal finery or regalia
  3. informal cosmetics
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