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adjective, sal·low·er, sal·low·est.
  1. of a sickly, yellowish or lightish brown color: sallow cheeks; a sallow complexion.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to make sallow.
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Origin of sallow1

before 1000; Middle English sal(o)we, Old English salo; cognate with Old Norse sǫlr yellow; compare French sale dirty (< Gmc)
Related formssal·low·ish, adjectivesal·low·ness, noun


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noun British.
  1. any of several shrubby Old World willows, especially Salix atrocinerea or the pussy willow, S. caprea.
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Origin of sallow2

before 900; Middle English; Old English sealh; cognate with Old High German salaha, Latin salix
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for sallow


  1. (esp of human skin) of an unhealthy pale or yellowish colour
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  1. (tr) to make sallow
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Derived Formssallowish, adjectivesallowly, adverbsallowness, noun

Word Origin

Old English salu; related to Old Norse sol seaweed (Icelandic sōlr yellowish), Old High German salo, French sale dirty


  1. any of several small willow trees, esp the Eurasian Salix cinerea (common sallow), which has large catkins that appear before the leaves
  2. a twig or the wood of any of these trees
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Derived Formssallowy, adjective

Word Origin

Old English sealh; related to Old Norse selja, Old High German salaha, Middle Low German salwīde, Latin salix
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 sallow


Old English salo "dusky, dark" (related to sol "dark, dirty"), from Proto-Germanic *salwa- (cf. Middle Dutch salu "discolored, dirty," Old High German salo "dirty gray," Old Norse sölr "dirty yellow"), from PIE root *sal- "dirty, gray" (cf. Old Church Slavonic slavojocije "grayish-blue color," Russian solovoj "cream-colored"). Related: Sallowness.

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"shrubby willow plant," Old English sealh (Anglian salh), from Proto-Germanic *salhjon (cf. Old Norse selja, Old High German salaha, and first element in German compound Salweide), from PIE *sal(i)k- "willow" (cf. Latin salix "willow," Middle Irish sail, Welsh helygen, Breton halegen "willow"). French saule "willow" is from Frankish salha, from the Germanic root. Used in Palm Sunday processions and decorations in England before the importing of real palm leaves began.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

sallow in Medicine


  1. Of a sickly yellowish hue or complexion.
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  1. To make sallow.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.