noun, adjective, verb (used with or without object) Chiefly British.

Related formstrans·col·our, adjective

Usage note

See -or1.




the quality of an object or substance with respect to light reflected by the object, usually determined visually by measurement of hue, saturation, and brightness of the reflected light; saturation or chroma; hue.
the natural appearance of the skin, especially of the face; complexion: She has a lovely color.
a ruddy complexion: The wind and sun had given color to the sailor's face.
a blush: His remarks brought the color to her face.
vivid or distinctive quality, as of a literary work: Melville's description of a whaling voyage is full of color.
details in description, customs, speech, habits, etc., of a place or period: The novel takes place in New Orleans and contains much local color.
something that is used for coloring; pigment; paint; tint; dye.
background information, as anecdotes about players or competitors or analyses of plays, strategy, or performance, given by a sportscaster to heighten interest in a sportscast.
  1. any distinctive color or combination or pattern of colors, especially of a badge, ribbon, uniform, or the like, worn or displayed as a symbol of or to identify allegiance to, membership in, or sponsorship by a school, group, or organization.
  2. nature, viewpoint, or attitude; character; personality: His behavior in a crisis revealed his true colors.
  3. a flag, ensign, etc., particularly the national flag.
  4. U.S. Navy.the ceremony of hoisting the national flag at 8 a.m. and of lowering it at sunset.
skin complexion of a particular people or ethnic group, especially when other than white: a person of color; people of color; a man of color; alumni of color; children of color.
outward appearance or aspect; guise or show: It was a lie, but it had the color of the truth.
a pretext: She did it under the color of doing a good deed.
Painting. the general use or effect of the pigments in a picture.
Phonetics. timbre.
Chiefly Law. an apparent or prima facie right or ground: to hold possession under color of title.
Music. tone color.
a trace or particle of valuable mineral, especially gold, as shown by washing auriferous gravel.
Physics. any of the labels red, green, or blue that designate the three states in which quarks are expected to exist, or any of the corresponding labels for antiquark states.Compare quantum chromodynamics, quark model.
Printing. the amount of ink used.
Heraldry. a tincture other than a fur or metal, usually including gules, azure, vert, sable, and purpure.


involving, utilizing, yielding, or possessing color: a color TV.

verb (used with object)

to give or apply color to; tinge; paint; dye: She colored her hair dark red.
to cause to appear different from the reality: In order to influence the jury, he colored his account of what had happened.
to give a special character or distinguishing quality to: His personal feelings color his writing.

verb (used without object)

to take on or change color: The ocean colored at dawn.
to flush; blush: He colored when confronted with the incriminating evidence.
Also especially British, col·our.

Origin of color

1250–1300; Middle English col(o)ur < Anglo-French (French couleur) < Latin colōr- (stem of color) hue
Related formscol·or·er, nouno·ver·col·or, verbpre·col·or, noun, verbre·col·or, verb (used with object)trans·col·or, adjectiveun·der·col·or, noun
Can be confusedcolor hue shade tint (see synonym study at shade)

Synonyms for color

23. bias, twist.

Usage note

See -or1.

Usage note

See black. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for coloured

Contemporary Examples of coloured

Historical Examples of coloured

  • Virginia coloured; and, with some hesitation, answered, "Is it my fault if I cannot forget?"

  • That is to say,'—he coloured a little,—'next to none that I can put in action now.

    Little Dorrit

    Charles Dickens

  • And when I was of an age to be silly, the man I was silly about had your coloured eyes.

  • He coloured, and played with the mane again, but answered—‘No, I think not.’

  • He thereupon kissed Madame Gurard's hand, and she coloured slightly.

    My Double Life

    Sarah Bernhardt

British Dictionary definitions for coloured



possessing colour
having a strong element of fiction or fantasy; distorted (esp in the phrase highly coloured)


noun plural Coloureds or Coloured

old-fashioned, offensive an individual who is not a White person, esp a Black person
Southern African
  1. a person of mixed ethnic parentage or descent
  2. a person of mixed ethnic descent speaking English or Afrikaans as their mother tongue


old-fashioned, offensive designating or relating to a Coloured person or Coloured people


The use of Coloured to refer to a person of mixed ethnic origin is likely to cause offence and should be avoided


noun, verb

the US spelling of colour
Derived Formscolorable, adjectivecolorer, nouncolorful, adjectivecoloring, nouncolorist, nouncolorless, adjective


US color


  1. an attribute of things that results from the light they reflect, transmit, or emit in so far as this light causes a visual sensation that depends on its wavelengths
  2. the aspect of visual perception by which an observer recognizes this attribute
  3. the quality of the light producing this aspect of visual perception
  4. (as modifier)colour vision
Also called: chromatic colour
  1. a colour, such as red or green, that possesses hue, as opposed to achromatic colours such as white or black
  2. (as modifier)a colour television; a colour film Compare black-and-white (def. 2)
a substance, such as a dye, pigment, or paint, that imparts colour to something
  1. the skin complexion of a person, esp as determined by his race
  2. (as modifier)colour prejudice; colour problem
the use of all the hues in painting as distinct from composition, form, and light and shade
the quantity and quality of ink used in a printing process
the distinctive tone of a musical sound; timbre
vividness, authenticity, or individualityperiod colour
semblance or pretext (esp in the phrases take on a different colour, under colour of)
US a precious mineral particle, esp gold, found in auriferous gravel
physics one of three characteristics of quarks, designated red, blue, or green, but having no relationship with the physical sensation


to give or apply colour to (something)
(tr) to give a convincing or plausible appearance to (something, esp to that which is spoken or recounted)to colour an alibi
(tr) to influence or distort (something, esp a report or opinion)anger coloured her judgment
(intr often foll by up) to become red in the face, esp when embarrassed or annoyed
(intr) (esp of ripening fruit) to change hue
See also colours

Word Origin for colour

C13: from Old French colour from Latin color tint, hue
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

Word Origin and History for coloured



early 13c., "skin color, complexion," from Old French color "color, complexion, appearance" (Modern French couleur), from Latin color "color of the skin; color in general, hue; appearance," from Old Latin colos, originally "a covering" (akin to celare "to hide, conceal"), from PIE root *kel- "to cover, conceal" (see cell).

For sense evolution, cf. Sanskrit varnah "covering, color," related to vrnoti "covers," and also see chroma. Meaning "visible color, color of something" is attested in English from c.1300. As "color as a property of things," from late 14c. Old English words for "color" were hiw ("hue"), bleo.


chiefly British English spelling of color (q.v.); for ending see -or. Related: Coloured; colouring; colourful; colours.



late 14c.; see color (n.); earliest use is figurative. Related: Colored; coloring.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for coloured




That aspect of the appearance of objects and light sources that may be specified in terms of hue, lightness, and saturation.
That portion of the visible electromagnetic spectrum specified in terms of wavelength, luminosity, and purity.
The general appearance of the skin.
The skin pigmentation of a person not classified as white.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Science definitions for coloured



The sensation produced by the effect of light waves striking the retina of the eye. The color of something depends mainly on which wavelengths of light it emits, reflects, or transmits.
Color charge. See also hadron.
A Closer Look: When beams of colored light are mixed, or added, their wavelengths combine to form other colors. All spectral colors can be formed by mixing wavelengths corresponding to the additive primaries red, green, and blue. When two of the additive primaries are mixed in equal proportion, they form the complement of the third. Thus cyan (a mixture of green and blue) is the complement of red; magenta (a mixture of blue and red) is the complement of green; and yellow (a mixture of red and green) is the complement of blue. Mixing the three additive primaries in equal proportions reconstitutes white light. When light passes through a color filter, certain wavelengths are absorbed, or subtracted, while others are transmitted. The subtractive primaries cyan, magenta, and yellow can be combined using overlapping filters to form all other colors. When two of the subtractive primaries are combined in equal proportion, they form the additive primary whose wavelength they share. Thus overlapping filters of cyan (blue and green) and magenta (blue and red) filter out all wavelengths except blue; magenta (blue and red) and yellow (red and green) transmit only red; and yellow (red and green) and cyan (blue and green) transmit only green. Combining all three subtractive primaries in equal proportions filters out all wavelengths, producing black. Light striking a colored surface behaves similarly to light passing through a filter, with certain wavelengths being absorbed and others reflected. Pigments are combined to form different colors by a process of subtractive absorption of various wavelengths.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with coloured


In addition to the idiom beginning with color

  • color of someone's money, see the

also see:

  • false colors
  • horse of a different color
  • lend color to
  • look through rose-colored glasses
  • under false colors
  • with flying colors
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.