[ peyl ]
See synonyms for: palepalespalingpaleness on

adjective,pal·er, pal·est.
  1. (of a person or a person's skin)

    • light-colored or lacking in color: a pale complexion; his pale face; a pale child.

    • lacking the usual intensity of color due to fear, illness, stress, etc.:She looked pale and unwell when we visited her in the nursing home.

  2. of a low degree of chroma, saturation, or purity; approaching white or gray: pale yellow.

  1. not bright or brilliant; dim: the pale moon.

  2. faint or feeble; lacking vigor: a pale protest.

verb (used without object),paled, pal·ing.
  1. to become pale: to pale at the sight of blood.

  2. to seem less important, remarkable, etc., especially when compared with something else: Platinum is so rare that even gold pales in comparison.

verb (used with object)
  1. to make pale.

Origin of pale

First recorded in 1250–1300; Middle English, from Middle French, from Latin pallidus pallid

synonym study For pale

1. Pale, pallid, wan imply an absence of color, especially from the human countenance. Pale implies a faintness or absence of color, which may be natural when applied to things, the pale blue of a violet, but when used to refer to the human face usually means an unnatural and often temporary absence of color, as arising from sickness or sudden emotion: pale cheeks. Pallid , limited mainly to the human countenance, implies an excessive paleness induced by intense emotion, disease, or death: the pallid lips of the dying man. Wan implies a sickly paleness, as after a long illness: wan and thin; the suggestion of weakness may be more prominent than that of lack of color: a wan smile.

Other words for pale

Opposites for pale

Other words from pale

  • palely, adverb
  • paleness, noun

Words that may be confused with pale

Words Nearby pale

Other definitions for pale (2 of 2)

[ peyl ]

  1. a stake or picket, as of a fence.

  2. an enclosing or confining barrier; enclosure.

  1. an enclosed area.

  2. limits; bounds: outside the pale of his jurisdiction.

  3. a district or region within designated bounds.

  4. (initial capital letter)

    • Also called Eng·lish Pale [ing-glish peyl], /ˈɪŋ glɪʃ ˈpeɪl/, I·rish Pale [ahy-rish peyl] /ˈaɪ rɪʃ ˈpeɪl/ . a district in eastern Ireland included in the Angevin Empire ofKing Henry II and his successors.

    • Also called Pale of Set·tle·ment [peyluhv set-l-muhnt] /ˈpeɪl əv ˈsɛt l mənt/ . the territories in the Russian Empire in which Jews were allowed to live.

  5. Heraldry. an ordinary in the form of a broad vertical stripe at the center of an escutcheon.

  6. Shipbuilding. a shore used inside to support the deck beams of a hull under construction.

verb (used with object),paled, pal·ing.
  1. to enclose with pales; fence.

  2. to encircle or encompass.

Origin of pale

First recorded in 1300–50; Middle English pal(e), paele, from Old French pal, pel “stake,” from Latin pālus “wooden pole, wooden peg, stake”; see origin at peel3;see also pole1 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use pale in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for pale (1 of 2)


/ (peɪl) /

  1. lacking brightness of colour; whitish: pale morning light

  2. (of a colour) whitish; produced by a relatively small quantity of colouring agent

  1. dim or wan: the pale stars

  2. feeble: a pale effort

  3. Southern African a euphemism for White

  1. to make or become pale or paler; blanch

  2. (intr often foll by before) to lose superiority or importance (in comparison to): her beauty paled before that of her hostess

Origin of pale

C13: from Old French palle, from Latin pallidus pale, from pallēre to look wan

Derived forms of pale

  • palely, adverb
  • paleness, noun

British Dictionary definitions for pale (2 of 2)


/ (peɪl) /

  1. a wooden post or strip used as an upright member in a fence

  2. an enclosing barrier, esp a fence made of pales

  1. an area enclosed by a pale

  2. a sphere of activity within which certain restrictions are applied

  3. heraldry an ordinary consisting of a vertical stripe, usually in the centre of a shield

  4. beyond the pale outside the limits of social convention

  1. (tr) to enclose with pales

Origin of pale

C14: from Old French pal, from Latin pālus stake; compare pole 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

Other Idioms and Phrases with pale


see beyond the pale.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.