Palette, pallet, and palate are homophones, which means they’re all pronounced the same way, but mean different things. Palette is mostly related to art. Pallet often refers to shipping equipment. Palate has several meanings related to taste. If you’re looking for a little more detail than that, read on.
When you picture a painter, you probably imagine them holding a flat board with a hole for their thumb to hold paint. That board is called a palette. Modern palettes often have a lot of little wells to hold different colors, plus some flat space for mixing. Palette may also refer to the range of colors or techniques an artist uses. It can describe the collection of colors in a particular piece of art.
It’s sort of like that in music, too: Palette can also mean a range of techniques. In the makeup world, a palette is a board or kit with several different shades of eye shadow or other products lined up to be used together. This use of the word is inspired by the palettes of the art world.
Pallet is a noun with several meanings. In the past, it referred to a makeshift bed, often one made of straw. Today, pallet usually refers to a square platform that holds items during shipping. Pallet may also refer to the combination of the platform and the goods on it. The phrase a pallet of is best to use when referring to this combination.
Palate is a word that relates to taste. The hard palate is the bone that makes up the roof of the mouth, while the soft palate is the muscle tissue that covers this section of bone.
Palate may also describe the physical sense of taste or the metaphorical idea of good taste. For example, “Warm soup is pleasing to the palate.” A beautiful statue may appeal to the palate in a metaphorical sense.