or bis·ter



a brown pigment extracted from the soot of wood, often used in pen and wash drawings.
a yellowish to dark-brown color.

Origin of bistre

1720–30; < French, Middle French, of obscure origin
Related formsbis·tred, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for bistre

Historical Examples of bistre

  • Why, my boys rub blue and bistre till their faces run of a stream.

    Pencil Sketches

    Eliza Leslie

  • Reddish-brown, marone, bistre with a golden light in it, suited her to perfection.

    The Commission in Lunacy

    Honore de Balzac

  • Her eyes were hideous to him in their great rings of paint and bistre.

    The Divine Fire

    May Sinclair

  • They are drawn with Indian ink, and the two first touched with bistre and heightened with white.


    Evelyn March Phillipps

  • Of the living, four are full-grown men; three of them white, the fourth of an umber-brown, or bistre colour.

    The Castaways

    Captain Mayne Reid

British Dictionary definitions for bistre


US bister


a transparent water-soluble brownish-yellow pigment made by boiling the soot of wood, used for pen and wash drawings
  1. a yellowish-brown to dark brown colour
  2. (as modifier)bistre paint

Word Origin for bistre

C18: from French, of unknown origin
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