[ sal-oh ]
See synonyms for: sallowsallowssallowness on

adjective,sal·low·er, sal·low·est.
  1. of a sickly, yellowish or lightish brown color: sallow cheeks; a sallow complexion.

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

Origin of sallow

First recorded before 1000; Middle English sal(o)we, Old English salo; cognate with Old Norse sǫlr “yellow”; compare French sale “dirty” (from Germanic )

Other words for sallow

Other words from sallow

  • sal·low·ish, adjective
  • sal·low·ness, noun

Other definitions for sallow (2 of 2)

[ sal-oh ]

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

Origin of sallow

before 900; Middle English; Old English sealh; cognate with Old High German salaha,Latin salix Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use sallow in a sentence

  • The sallowness of his complexion was gone, but the short locks of hair about his ears were as white as froth.

    Skipper Worse | Alexander Lange Kielland
  • There was nothing unhealthy in her clear pallor, no hint of sallowness, but a soft, white glow.

    Narcissa, or the Road to Rome | Laura E. Richards
  • The poor man’s sallowness had become almost livid, and in half-sobbing words he exclaimed—‘Is it so?

    Hopes and Fears | Charlotte M. Yonge
  • He was a dark man, with a skin of oily sallowness; thickset, with something of the slow ungainliness of a toad.

    'Me-Smith' | Caroline Lockhart
  • The skin was yellow, but stretched so firm and hard on the cheek bones that the sallowness did not look unhealthy.

    The Path of the King | John Buchan

British Dictionary definitions for sallow (1 of 2)


/ (ˈsæləʊ) /

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

  1. (tr) to make sallow

Origin of sallow

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

Derived forms of sallow

  • sallowish, adjective
  • sallowly, adverb
  • sallowness, noun

British Dictionary definitions for sallow (2 of 2)


/ (ˈsæləʊ) /

  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

Origin of sallow

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

Derived forms of sallow

  • sallowy, adjective

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