adjective, sal·low·er, sal·low·est.

of a sickly, yellowish or lightish brown color: sallow cheeks; a sallow complexion.

verb (used with object)

to make sallow.

Origin of sallow

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

Synonyms for sallow Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for sallowness

Historical Examples of sallowness

  • Sallow is the reverse of healthy in proportion to the sallowness, as a usual thing.


    Horace Fletcher

  • The skin becomes like leather; the colour of the cheeks is replaced by sallowness.


    Eugene S. Talbot

  • The sallowness had left his face and a slight color appeared in his cheeks.

    The Bachelors

    William Dana Orcutt

  • His natural colour is restored, and the sallowness is quite gone.

    Fletcher of Madeley

    Frederic W. Macdonald

  • The careworn look had gone from his eyes, the sallowness from his complexion.

    A Lost Leader

    E. Phillips Oppenheim

British Dictionary definitions for sallowness




(esp of human skin) of an unhealthy pale or yellowish colour


(tr) to make sallow
Derived Formssallowish, adjectivesallowly, adverbsallowness, noun

Word Origin for sallow

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




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

Word Origin for sallow

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 sallowness



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.



"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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

sallowness in Medicine




Of a sickly yellowish hue or complexion.


To make sallow.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.