adjective, pal·er, pal·est.

verb (used without object), paled, pal·ing.

to become pale: to pale at the sight of blood.
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)

to make pale.

Nearby words

  1. palau islands,
  2. palaver,
  3. palawan,
  4. palazzo,
  5. palazzo pants,
  6. pale horse,
  7. pale horse, pale rider,
  8. pale western cutworm,
  9. pale-,
  10. pale-dry

Origin of pale

1250–1300; Middle English < Middle French < Latin pallidus pallid

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. 5. blanch, lose color.

1. ruddy. 5. darken.

Related formspale·ly, adverbpale·ness, noun

Can be confusedpale pailpale pall pallor Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for paler

British Dictionary definitions for paler




lacking brightness of colour; whitishpale morning light
(of a colour) whitish; produced by a relatively small quantity of colouring agent
dim or wanthe pale stars
feeblea pale effort
Southern African a euphemism for White


to make or become pale or paler; blanch
(intr often foll by before) to lose superiority or importance (in comparison to)her beauty paled before that of her hostess
Derived Formspalely, adverbpaleness, noun

Word Origin for pale

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




a wooden post or strip used as an upright member in a fence
an enclosing barrier, esp a fence made of pales
an area enclosed by a pale
a sphere of activity within which certain restrictions are applied
heraldry an ordinary consisting of a vertical stripe, usually in the centre of a shield
beyond the pale outside the limits of social convention


(tr) to enclose with pales

Word Origin for 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

Word Origin and History for paler
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with paler


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.