yellow

[yel-oh]

noun

adjective, yel·low·er, yel·low·est.

verb (used with or without object)

to make or become yellow: Yellow the sheets with dye. The white stationery had yellowed with age.

Origin of yellow

before 900; 1895–1900 for def 9; Middle English yelou (adj. and noun), Old English geolo, geolu (adj.); cognate with Dutch geel, German gelb, Latin helvus pale-yellow; akin to Old Norse gulr
Related formsyel·low·ly, adverbyel·low·ness, noun

Synonyms for yellow

Usage note

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.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019


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British Dictionary definitions for yellow

yellow

noun

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 coloursRelated adjective: xanthous
a pigment or dye of or producing these colours
yellow cloth or clothingdressed in yellow
the yolk of an egg
a yellow ball in snooker, etc
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

adjective

of the colour yellow
yellowish in colour or having parts or marks that are yellowishyellow jasmine
having a yellowish skin; Mongoloid
informal cowardly or afraid
offensively sensational, as a cheap newspaper (esp in the phrase yellow press)

verb

to make or become yellow
See also yellows
Derived Formsyellowish, adjectiveyellowly, adverbyellowness, nounyellowy, adjective

Word Origin for yellow

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

Old English geolu, geolwe, from Proto-Germanic *gelwaz (cf. Old Saxon, Old High German gelo, Middle Dutch ghele, Dutch geel, Middle High German gel, German gelb, Old Norse gulr, Swedish gul "yellow"), from PIE *ghel- "yellow, green" (see Chloe).

Meaning "light-skinned" (of blacks) first recorded 1808. Applied to Asiatics since 1787, though the first recorded reference is to Turkish words for inhabitants of India. Yellow peril translates German die gelbe gefahr. Sense of "cowardly" is 1856, of unknown origin; the color was traditionally associated rather with treachery. Yellow-bellied "cowardly" is from 1924, probably a rhyming reduplication of yellow; earlier yellow-belly was a sailor's name for a half-caste (1867) and a Texas term for Mexican soldiers (1842, based on the color of their uniforms). Yellow dog "mongrel" is attested from c.1770; slang sense of "contemptible person" first recorded 1881. Yellow fever attested from 1748, American English (jaundice is a symptom).

v.

"to become yellow," Old English geoluwian, from the source of yellow (adj.). Related: Yellowed; yellowing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper