[dap-uh l]


a spot or mottled marking, usually occurring in clusters.
an animal with a mottled skin or coat.


dappled; spotted: a dapple horse.

verb (used with or without object), dap·pled, dap·pling.

to mark or become marked with spots.

Origin of dapple

First recorded in 1545–55; probably back formation from dappled
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for dapple

stipple, sprinkle, speck, blotch, spot, fleck, mottle, dot, besprinkle, bespeckle

Examples from the Web for dapple

Historical Examples of dapple

  • No dapple of shadows was there, no rustle of leaves, no green, mossy trunks of trees.

    A Spoil of Office

    Hamlin Garland

  • His eyes were skilled to observe in the moving dusk and dapple of green woods.

    Irish Fairy Tales

    James Stephens

  • But who be those that follow them on the grey palfrey and dapple jennet?

    A Legend of Reading Abbey

    Charles MacFarlane

  • It was just as he was about to return to his dapple grays that he received a sudden shock.

    The Crimson Flash

    Roy J. Snell

  • Dimple is a diminutive of dip, and cognate with dingle and dapple.

    Milton's Comus

    John Milton

British Dictionary definitions for dapple



to mark or become marked with spots or patches of a different colour; mottle


mottled or spotted markings
a dappled horse, etc


marked with dapples or spots

Word Origin for dapple

C14: 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

Word Origin and History for dapple

early 15c. (implied in past participle adjective dappled), perhaps from a Scandinavian source akin to Old Norse depill "spot," Norwegian dape "puddle." Perhaps a back-formation from, or merger with, Middle English adjective dapple-gray "apple-gray" (late 14c.), based on resemblance to the markings on an apple (cf. Old Norse apalgrar "dapple-gray"), or, as it was used of gray horses with round blotches, perhaps via resemblance to apples themselves.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper