[ hey-zuhl ]
/ ˈheɪ zəl /
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Origin of hazel

before 900; Middle English hasel;Old English hæs(e)l; cognate with German Hasel,Old Norse hasl,Latin corylus hazel shrub


ha·zel·ly, adjective

Other definitions for hazel (2 of 2)

[ hey-zuhl ]
/ ˈheɪ zəl /

a female given name.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What color are hazel eyes?

Opinions vary on what, exactly, constitutes hazel eyes. Some consider them to be any shade with light brown or gold tones; others think they are a variation of brown eyes, only with more green or gold in the iris.

Where did the term hazel eyes come from?

We’ll never know who the first person who had hazel eyes was, but if they were around today, they would join 5–8% of the world’s population that claims the color.

The term hazel comes from the color of a hazelnut and is recorded describing eyes as early as the 1690s. Whatever the precise shade of hazel is, scientists agree that hazel eyes are caused by light-scattering and melanin. Many online tutorials and makeup products can help you make those coveted, rare hazel eyes pop—much to the envy of others.

How to use the term hazel eyes

Hazel eyes are used to describe the eye color of mostly white populations where there is a mix of people with blue, green, and brown eyes, upping the genetic chance for hazel eyes to occur. However, people of other races have also flashed some hazel-colored peepers, supermodel Tyra Banks is one of the more notable examples.

Another famous holder of hazel eyes would be first-ever American Idol winner, Kelly Clarkson. In 2004, she released the single “Behind These Hazel Eyes.” In the chorus, she sings: “…you won’t get to see the tears I cry / Behind these hazel eyes”

The anthem, which details Clarkson’s tormented heart after breaking up with her boyfriend, remained on the Billboard Top Ten for 15 weeks, and is a personal favorite of the singer herself and a tearjerker for her many fans. As Clarkson said in 2005, “Crappy relationships [make for] a good song.”

More examples of hazel eyes:

“Even the graphic designers at Almay can’t seem to settle on a single definition of hazel. Their i-color eyeshadows for hazel eyes are calibrated for golden brown “honeyed hazel.” This is the color they use on their packaging, too. But the display in my drugstore shows a green-brown iris!”
—Kat S, xoJane, June 2015


This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.

How to use hazel in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for hazel

/ (ˈheɪzəl) /

Also called: cob any of several shrubs of the N temperate genus Corylus, esp C. avellana, having oval serrated leaves and edible rounded brown nuts: family Corylaceae
the wood of any of these trees
short for hazelnut
  1. a light yellowish-brown colour
  2. (as adjective)hazel eyes

Word Origin for hazel

Old English hæsel; related to Old Norse hasl, Old High German hasala, Latin corylus, Old Irish coll
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