[ pal-it ]
/ ˈpæl ɪt /
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See synonyms for: palate / palates on Thesaurus.com

Definition of palate

Anatomy. the roof of the mouth, consisting of an anterior bony portion (hard palate ) and a posterior muscular portion (soft palate, orvelum ) that separate the oral cavity from the nasal cavity.
the sense of taste: It was a dinner to delight the palate.
intellectual or aesthetic taste; mental appreciation: She is said to have a discriminating palate for the arts.
verb (used with object)
to find pleasing to the taste: My friend was very ill and could not palate much of anything.
to find acceptable or agreeable to the mind or feelings: Your position is hard to palate, because I believe there is such a thing as objective morality.
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Origin of palate

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English palat, from Latin palātum “roof of the mouth”


pal·ate·less, adjectivepal·ate·like, adjective


palate , palette, pallet
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What’s the difference between palate, palette, and pallet?

The word palate refers to the roof of the mouth. More figuratively, palate can refer to a person’s particular sense of taste (as in the way they perceive flavors), or to a person’s general, intellectual taste (as in their specific preferences for things). A palette is that board that painters keep their paints on while painting (most traditionally, an oval one with a thumbhole for holding). The word pallet most commonly refers to a flat, square (often wood) platform used to hold goods for shipping (it’s sometimes called a skid).

All three of these words are pronounced exactly the same, and they’re always used as nouns.

The word palette is closely associated with art and color. It can also refer to a collection or range of colors or techniques. For example, the term color palette refers to a specific set of colors, such as the ones that a particular artist typically works with.

The word pallet can sometimes be used to refer to a painter’s palette, but this spelling is much less commonly used.

So how to keep all three spellings straight?

A palette is the thing a painter always keeps on hand—literally—while painting. In this way, you can think of a painter’s palette (which is spelled with one L) as a painter’s pal.

A pallet (ending in -let) is the platform that lets shippers easily transport goods.

Think of palate (ending in -ate) as a word related to what you ate.

Here’s an example of palate, palette, and pallet used correctly in a sentence.

Example: The art installation consists of wooden pallets painted in a vibrant palette of colors—it’s interesting, but it’s not quite suited to my palate. 

Want to learn more? Read the full breakdown of the difference between palate, palette, and pallet.

Quiz yourself on palate vs. palette vs. pallet!

Should palate, palette, or pallet be used in the following sentence?

The designer is known for using a muted color _____.

How to use palate in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for palate

/ (ˈpælɪt) /

the roof of the mouth, separating the oral and nasal cavitiesSee hard palate, soft palate Related adjective: palatine
the sense of tasteshe had no palate for the wine
relish or enjoyment
botany (in some two-lipped corollas) the projecting part of the lower lip that closes the opening of the corolla

Word Origin for palate

C14: from Latin palātum, perhaps of Etruscan origin

undefined palate

Avoid confusion with palette, pallet 1
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

Medical definitions for palate

[ pălĭt ]

The bony and muscular partition between the oral and nasal cavities; the roof of the mouth.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Scientific definitions for palate

[ pălĭt ]

The roof of the mouth in vertebrate animals, separating the mouth from the passages of the nose.♦ The bony part of the palate is called the hard palate. ♦ A soft, flexible, rear portion of the palate, called the soft palate, is present in mammals only and serves to close off the mouth from the nose during swallowing.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Cultural definitions for palate

[ (pal-uht) ]

The roof of the mouth. The palate separates the mouth from the nasal cavity.

notes for palate

It is sometimes said that a person has a “cultivated palate” if he or she has a discerning taste for food.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.