[ yel-oh ]
See synonyms for yellow on
  1. a color like that of egg yolk, ripe lemons, etc.; the primary color between green and orange in the visible spectrum, an effect of light with a wavelength between 570 and 590 nanometers.

  2. the yolk of an egg.

  1. a yellow pigment or dye.

  2. Informal. yellow light.

adjective,yel·low·er, yel·low·est.
  1. of the color yellow.

  2. Disparaging and Offensive.

    • designating or pertaining to an Asian person or Asian peoples.

    • designating or pertaining to a person of mixed racial origin, especially of black and white heritage.

  1. having a sallow or yellowish complexion.

  2. Informal. cowardly.

    • (of a newspaper, book, etc.) featuring articles, pictures, or other content that is sensational, especially morbidly or offensively so: yellow rags;yellow biographies.

    • dishonest in editorial comment and the presentation of news, especially in sacrificing truth for sensationalism, as in yellow journalism; yellow press.

  3. jealous; envious.

verb (used with or without object)
  1. to make or become yellow: Yellow the sheets with dye. The white stationery had yellowed with age.

Origin of yellow

First recorded before 900; 1895–1900 for def. 9; Middle English yelou (adjective and noun), Old English geolo, geolu (adjective); cognate with Dutch geel, German gelb, Latin helvus “pale-yellow”; akin to Old Norse gulr

usage note For yellow

It is perceived as insulting to use yellow to describe a person of Asian or mixed racial origin, as in the terms yellow peril and high yellow.

Other words for yellow

Other words from yellow

  • yel·low·ly, adverb
  • yel·low·ness, noun

Words Nearby yellow Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use yellow in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for yellow


/ (ˈjɛləʊ) /

  1. any of a group of colours that vary in saturation but have the same hue. They lie in the approximate wavelength range 585–575 nanometres. Yellow is the complementary colour of blue and with cyan and magenta forms a set of primary colours: Related adjective: xanthous

  2. a pigment or dye of or producing these colours

  1. yellow cloth or clothing: dressed in yellow

  2. the yolk of an egg

  3. a yellow ball in snooker, etc

  4. any of a group of pieridine butterflies the males of which have yellow or yellowish wings, esp the clouded yellows (Colias spp.) and the brimstone

  1. of the colour yellow

  2. yellowish in colour or having parts or marks that are yellowish: yellow jasmine

  1. having a yellowish skin; Mongoloid

  2. informal cowardly or afraid

  3. offensively sensational, as a cheap newspaper (esp in the phrase yellow press)

  1. to make or become yellow

Origin of yellow

Old English geolu; related to Old Saxon, Old High German gelo, Old Norse gulr, Latin helvus

Derived forms of yellow

  • yellowish, adjective
  • yellowly, adverb
  • yellowness, noun
  • yellowy, 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