[dap-uh ld]


having spots of a different shade, tone, or color from the background; mottled.

Origin of dappled

1350–1400; Middle English, probably < Scandinavian; akin to Old Norse depill spot
Related formsun·dap·pled, adjective


[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

Examples from the Web for dappled

Contemporary Examples of dappled

Historical Examples of dappled

  • The dogs had started a dappled deer that bounded 102 away through the forest.

    Irish Fairy Tales

    Edmond Leamy

  • It was covered in a wrap which had once been white but was now dappled with green.

    The Green Rust

    Edgar Wallace

  • The grass, dappled with sun and shadow, wore a mantle of flowers.

    David and the Phoenix

    Edward Ormondroyd

  • A robin from the dappled warmth of a mossy stone, was regarding them instead.

    The Patrician

    John Galsworthy

  • They were as inconspicuous as two deer in the dappled shadow.

    The Flaming Jewel

    Robert W. Chambers

British Dictionary definitions for dappled



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 dappled



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