adjective, taw·ni·er, taw·ni·est.

of a dark yellowish or dull yellowish-brown color.


a shade of brown tinged with yellow; dull yellowish brown.

Origin of tawny

1350–1400; Middle English tauny < Anglo-French taune < Middle French tané, past participle of taner to tan1
Related formstaw·ni·ly, adverbtaw·ni·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for tawny

beige, bronze, brown, dusky, swarthy, olive, tanned

Examples from the Web for tawny

Contemporary Examples of tawny

Historical Examples of tawny

  • He glowered at his fate, and tugged his tawny moustache for some time in silence.


    William J. Locke

  • Then on the other side the windows glistened with the tawny glow of gold.

  • The stem is short, hairy, tawny; sometimes the stem is almost obsolete.

  • There could be no doubt of his identity, with the light on his strong face and tawny hair.

    A Son of Hagar

    Sir Hall Caine

  • In the centre of the table was a huge birthday cake for Tawny Adonis.

    The Gorgeous Girl

    Nalbro Bartley

British Dictionary definitions for tawny




  1. a light brown to brownish-orange colour
  2. (as adjective)tawny port
Derived Formstawniness, noun

Word Origin for tawny

C14: from Old French tané, from taner to tan 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 tawny

"tan-colored," late 14c., from Anglo-French tauné "associated with the brownish-yellow of tanned leather," from Old French tané (12c.), past participle of taner "to tan hides," from Medieval Latin tannare (see tan).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper