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palette

[ pal-it ]
/ ˈpæl ɪt /
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noun
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Origin of palette

First recorded in 1615–25; from French, Middle French, diminutive of pale “spade, shovel,” from Latin pāla “spade, winnowing fan, shoulder blade” (related to pale2, peel2, peel3) + -ette; see origin at -ette

OTHER WORDS FROM palette

pal·ette·like, adjective

WORDS THAT MAY BE CONFUSED WITH palette

palate, palette , pallet
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

PALETTE VS. PALLET VS. PALATE

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

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). 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).

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 palette, pallet, and palate 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 palette, pallet, and palate.

Quiz yourself on palette vs. pallet vs. palate!

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

The designer is known for using a muted color _____.

How to use palette in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for palette

palette
/ (ˈpælɪt) /

noun
Also: pallet a flat piece of wood, plastic, etc, used by artists as a surface on which to mix their paints
the range of colours characteristic of a particular artist, painting, or school of paintinga restricted palette
the available range of colours or patterns that can be displayed by a computer on a visual display unit
either of the plates of metal attached by a strap to the cuirass in a suit of armour to protect the armpits

Word Origin for palette

C17: from French, diminutive of pale shovel, from Latin pala spade

undefined palette

Avoid confusion with palate, 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
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