OTHER WORDS FROM colorfulcol·or·ful·ly, adverbcol·or·ful·ness, nounun·col·or·ful, adjective
Words nearby colorful
MORE ABOUT COLORFUL
What does colorful mean?
Colorful literally means full of color, especially a lot of different bright colors.
It can also be used in a figurative way to mean rich with interesting or vividly depicted elements, such as characters or events.
For example, a colorful story is one with a lot of interesting parts, locations, and especially colorful characters—people with unique (or eccentric) personalities and ways of life.
A place like a restaurant or nightclub might be said to have a colorful history, meaning a lot of very interesting or unusual things have happened there.
The phrase colorful language is a euphemism—it’s a polite way of referring to language that contains a lot of curse words, obscenities, or other potentially offensive terms. Colorful is sometimes used in this way in other situations as a euphemistic or humorous way of implying that something is a bit seedy, shady, or outside the mainstream, as in That place is known to have a colorful clientele, if you know what I mean—a lot of shady deals go down there.
Example: The history of the museum is as colorful as the paintings that hang on its walls—it has seen some truly bizarre happenings over the years.
Where does colorful come from?
The first records of the word colorful come from the 1800s. The suffix -ful means “full of” and turns the noun color into the adjective colorful, literally meaning “full of color.”
Colorful is most often used to describe something that includes not just many different colors but especially bright and vibrant ones—like rainbows, leaves in the fall, or a candy store. The figurative sense of colorful also often implies a variety of things, such as in the phrase a colorful cast of characters. If you describe a period in history as colorful, it means it involved a lot of interesting or unusual events. Describing a person as colorful often implies that they’re flamboyant or interesting in a vibrant way. The words vivid and vibrant can be used as synonyms for the literal and figurative sense of colorful.
The word colorless is the opposite of colorful in both senses—it can describe something that literally has no color, or it can describe something that is dull because there’s nothing interesting about it.
Did you know ... ?
What are some other forms related to colorful?
- colorfully (adverb)
- colorfulness (noun)
- uncolorful (adjective)
What are some synonyms for colorful?
What are some words that share a root or word element with colorful?
What are some words that often get used in discussing colorful?
How is colorful used in real life?
Colorful is usually used positively, but it can occasionally be used in a slightly negative way to imply that something might be a bit offensive or seedy.
— Art Magazine (@myartmagazine) May 14, 2020
It's a fast moving plot– we got seedy night clubs, madams, root doctors, and all sorts of colorful characters. But alongside that– serious social commentary about race, poverty and patriarchy.
— Tayari Jones (@tayari) May 12, 2020
The great comics throughout history have offended, made people think and question things, etc. They've often done so with blue language, to great success. But there's a difference in using colorful language to make a point, and just flat-out insulting people for no reason.
— "Il Cartographer" Brian Zane (@zmanbrianzane) May 9, 2020
Try using colorful!
Which of the following words would NOT be used to describe something considered colorful?
How to use colorful in a sentence
Industry members use an assortment of colorful names to refer to the group.Russian state hackers are targeting Biden and Trump campaigns, MSFT warns|Dan Goodin|September 11, 2020|Ars Technica
Jupiter is well known for its iconic, colorful banded clouds and its great red spot.These Images Expose the Dark Side of the Solar System - Issue 89: The Dark Side|Corey S. Powell|August 26, 2020|Nautilus
The case also includes a number of colorful details about how Bannon and Kolfage spent their ill-gotten gains and how they got caught.
The Banana Lounge in Building 26 has chests full of free fruit, and a colorful piano outside.
You may not have tailoring expertise under your belt, but to get a little Satō in your step, go for soft, classic fabrics with a fun, colorful lining.
Shepherds abiding in the field” saw colorful Christmas lights that “shone round about them.
This collection features 100 fun, colorful, and sometimes delightfully irreverent messages designed by Friends with Type.The Daily Beast’s 2014 Holiday Gift Guide: For the Taylor Swift in Your Life|Allison McNearney|November 29, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Sure, there are some colorful English aristocrats still around, but is the age of the delightfully nutty toff at an end?
Masters employed a colorful cast of characters off the air as well.
Sir Bob, 63, responded with his usual colorful language to his critics.
Shelves and counters were piled with a colorful miscellany of goods calculated to appeal to primitive tastes.Mystery Ranch|Arthur Chapman
Mount Airy is built of brown stone and trimmed with light stone furnishing a colorful contrast.
Additional atmosphere is created by the colorful, colonial costumes worn by the guides themselves.
And so, back in the colorful days of the building of the fast-growing West, young Isaac Burns constructed his warehouse.David Lannarck, Midget|George S. Harney
Then the very next flash there were greens and yellows—changing, colorful, brilliant bars.Tales of Fishes|Zane Grey