verb (used with object), dyed, dye·ing.

to color or stain; treat with a dye; color (cloth, hair, etc.) with a substance containing coloring matter: to dye a dress green.
to impart (color) by means of a dye: The coloring matter dyed green.

verb (used without object), dyed, dye·ing.

to impart color, as a dye: This brand dyes well.
to become colored or absorb color when treated with a dye: This cloth dyes easily.


    of the deepest/blackest dye, of the most extreme or the worst sort: a prevaricator of the blackest dye.

Origin of dye

before 1000; Middle English dien, Old English dēagian, derivative of dēag a dye
Related formsdy·a·ble, dye·a·ble, adjectivedy·er, nounre·dye, verb (used with object), re·dyed, re·dy·ing.un·dy·a·ble, adjectiveun·dyed, adjective
Can be confuseddie dye
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

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British Dictionary definitions for dye



a staining or colouring substance, such as a natural or synthetic pigment
a liquid that contains a colouring material and can be used to stain fabrics, skins, etc
the colour or shade produced by dyeing

verb dyes, dyeing or dyed

(tr) to impart a colour or stain to (something, such as fabric or hair) by or as if by the application of a dye
Derived Formsdyable or dyeable, adjectivedyer, noun

Word Origin for dye

Old English dēagian, from dēag a dye; related to Old High German tugōn to change, Lettish dūkans dark
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 dye

Old English deah, deag "a color, hue, tinge," perhaps related to deagol "secret, hidden, dark, obscure," from Proto-Germanic *daugilaz (cf. Old Saxon dogol "secret," Old High German tougal "dark, hidden, secret").


Old English deagian "to dye," from the source of dye (n.). Spelling distinction between dye and die was not firm till 19c. "Johnson in his Dictionary, spelled them both die, while Addison, his near contemporary, spelled both dye" [Barnhart]. Related: dyed. Figurative phrase dyed in the wool (or grain) is from dyeing while the material is in its raw state, which has a more durable effect.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

dye in Medicine




A substance used to color materials or substances, such as cells, tissues, and microorganisms.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.