Definition of color in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈkələr/
(British colour)


1The property possessed by an object of producing different sensations on the eye as a result of the way the object reflects or emits light: the lights flickered and changed color
More example sentences
  • These are clad in stainless-steel panels with a highly milled finish that absorbs light and colour more than it reflects them.
  • His once bright hazel eyes were now just round pools of color with no light reflecting in them.
  • The different tints of colour in her hair caught the sun and she looked the pure image of beauty.
1.1One, or any mixture, of the constituents into which light can be separated in a spectrum or rainbow, sometimes including (loosely) black and white: a rich brown color a range of bright colors
More example sentences
  • In her world, the colors were black, white, purple, red, or gray.
  • They range in colours from black to lightest blonde with varying shades of ash, gold, beige, red-violet copper and auburn.
  • But one must make sure that the fabric is in neutral colours like black, white or beige, so that it matches with most of your dresses.
1.2The use of all colors, not only black, white, and gray, in photography or television: he has shot the whole film in color [as modifier]: color television
More example sentences
  • A number of photographs, in colour and black and white, show the various facets of the process in great detail.
  • Resolution in color television imagery is also based on principles of optical mixing.
  • He compared the two scenarios to the difference between black and white and color television.
1.3A substance used to give something a particular color: lip color
More example sentences
  • She ran a brush through her hair and added a dash of color to her lips, and then shrugged at herself in the mirror.
  • Lips, she added, should be glossed or bordered by lip liner that closely matches the chosen lip colour.
  • For lips, always use a pencil, but be sure to match it to your lip colour.
1.4 Heraldry Any of the major conventional colors used in coats of arms (gules, vert, sable, azure, purpure), especially as opposed to the metals, furs, and stains.
Example sentences
  • The first and second floor fronts would have panels in terracotta red, and the Coat of Arms would be in heraldic colours.
  • The wreath is six twists, metal alternating with colour.
  • Colour may not be placed on colour, nor may metal on metal.
2Pigmentation of the skin, especially as an indication of someone’s race: discrimination on the basis of color
More example sentences
  • Racism is the belief that mankind is divided into races, skin color or religion, making one member of an ethnic group view the other as inferior.
  • When will the world ever be able to put this issue of skin colour and race to rest?
  • You should be proud of your skin color no matter what race you are.
skin coloring, skin tone, coloring;
2.1A group of people considered as being distinguished by skin pigmentation: all colors and nationalities
More example sentences
  • To many, it means students of all colors and backgrounds will populate our nations' universities in harmony.
  • We have to respect the open and free society that Europe has developed and respect all citizens of all nations, religions and colors.
  • We are men and women, rich and poor, black and white, and all colors of the human rainbow.
2.2Rosiness or redness of the face as an indication of health or of embarrassment, anger, etc. there was some color back in his face color flooded her skin as she realized what he meant
More example sentences
  • Quinn wheezed with embarrassment as color rushed to her face.
  • Laurel smiled deeply and a healthy, warm color flooded her face.
  • Mrs Grimshaw's face began to flood with intense colour.
3Vividness of visual appearance resulting from the presence of brightly colored things: for color, plant groups of winter-flowering pansies
More example sentences
  • His garden is a vivid display of summer colour and George delights in having the time to enjoy it.
  • These make ideal portable plants providing a fragrant perfume and vivid colour in early to mid-summer.
  • Attached to a branch of a tree were half a dozen green and yellow plastic water containers that provided a splash of colour in the bright, dust coloured landscape.
3.1Picturesque or exciting features that lend a particularly interesting quality to something: a town full of color and character
More example sentences
  • Westport is the tidiest town in Ireland, a place full of character and colour, where tidiness and beauty are the norm, or so it seems.
  • A cascade of novels and films featuring the colour and spice of the country has made its way onto bookshelves and into movie houses.
  • Good conversation features colloquialisms, colour and the natural rhythm of speech.
vividness, life, liveliness, vitality, excitement, interest, richness, zest, spice, piquancy, impact, force
informal oomph, pizzazz, punch, kick
literary salt
3.2Variety of musical tone or expression: orchestral color
More example sentences
  • All of the orchestral color and variety of the original has been encapsulated in his version.
  • Without a clear melody, color becomes the paramount musical element.
  • First and foremost, all work should consider the musical elements of tone, color, dynamics and phrasing.
4 (colors) An item or items of a particular color or combination of colors worn to identify an individual or a member of a school, group, or organization.
Example sentences
  • At the Festival Games he cleared 3.80 metres and was awarded his school colours.
  • Irusha obtained his school colours last year, from the Ministry of Education, the youngest ever chess player to obtain this honour, which is the highest chess achievement for a schoolboy.
  • Full School Colours were awarded to S Houghton, B Gelling and D Wise.
4.1The flag of a regiment or ship.
Example sentences
  • I know because, as secretary of the regimental association, my father was presented to her in Pontefract when she presented new colours to the regiment.
  • By the end of the 19th century, regimental standards and colours were driven from the battlefield by the increasing range and accuracy of small-arms fire.
  • From what I've seen, this country identifies more with its flag and its colours than any other.
4.2A national flag: he was called to the colors during the war
More example sentences
  • With the National colors flying in a breeze that whipped the flags around the staffs on which they were borne and sent many a straw hat scurrying across the streets, 40,000 people marched through from Central Park to the Washington Arch yesterday morning.
5A shade of meaning: many events in her past had taken on a different color
More example sentences
  • She tells an engaging contemporary tale in all its colors, nuances and shades.
  • After all, it is about the colours and shades of life.
5.1Character or general nature: the hospitable color of his family
More example sentences
  • Perhaps it was genetic or maybe it was just the color of horse he was, Angie was ever able to figure that part out.
  • Alan Trammell is a horse of a different color - a very solid hitter who more than held his own in the field.
6 Physics A quantized property of quarks which can take three values (designated blue, green, and red) for each flavor.
Example sentences
  • Nuclear power is the process by which we can extract energy from the colour force between quarks.
  • But quite unlike photons, gluons do carry color charge, the analog of electric charge.
  • This property means that the closer quarks come to each other, the weaker the quark colour charge and the weaker the interaction.
7 Mining A particle of gold remaining in a mining pan after most of the mud and gravel have been washed away.
Example sentences
  • For people in the Sacramento area who are just starting out gold prospecting and are just looking for a little color in the pan, the Consumnes River is a good place to go.
  • I go out prospecting to two nice little places where you can find a little color.
  • Okay, maybe not eureka, but tons of black sand and a little color in every pan, including one little sesame seed sized chunks.


1 [with object] Change the color of (something) by painting, dyeing, or shading it.
Example sentences
  • I also got my hair coloured this week.
  • I have my hair coloured every visit, and cut every second visit.
  • Now a native doctor himself, he uses the same medicines to colour the silk for his yarn paintings.
1.1 [no object] Take on a different color: the foliage will not color well if the soil is too rich
More example sentences
  • The two pieces of filling were put in at different times, he explains, and have coloured differently.
  • As the clear lens slowly colours with age, your vision gradually may acquire a brownish shade.
  • It has a rich and unique fragrance when made and colours with age.
1.2Use crayons to fill (a particular shape or outline) with color: color the head, eyes, and bill with crayons
More example sentences
  • I've worked out how to colour line drawings, hurrah.
  • The twins sheltered from the storms by learning the art of batik painting, colouring in the exotic fish between their wax outlines.
  • Children can pick up a colouring sheet from the visitors centre and colour it in either at home or at the park with the colours and table provided.
1.3Make vivid or picturesque: he has colored the dance with gestures from cabaret and vaudeville
2 [no object] (Of a person or their skin) show embarrassment or shame by becoming red; blush: everyone stared at him, and he colored slightly
More example sentences
  • Judith colored slightly from both embarrassment and anger.
  • Michelle coloured slightly and turned back to her book.
  • Rebecca instantly colored, and raised a hand to rub absently at her cheeks, drawing all the more attention to the fact that she was embarrassed.
blush, redden, go pink, go red, flush
2.1 [with object] Cause (a person’s skin) to change in color: rage colored his pale complexion
More example sentences
  • He clutched at the light coverlet, pulling it with him as he sat up, a flush coloring his skin.
  • Caleb shook his head, amusement coloring his cheeks a pale pink.
  • She slowly dropped her gaze to the book on the table, but he could see a hint of rosy pink colored her pale cheeks.
2.2 [with object] (Of an emotion) imbue (a person’s voice) with a particular tone: surprise colored her voice
More example sentences
  • ‘I second that observation,’ Alexander said, interest coloring his warm voice.
  • ‘Look at the suns, they are wasting in the sky,’ Magdalena said, alarm coloring her voice.
  • Tim clapped her on the shoulder, pride coloring his voice.
3 [with object] Influence, especially in a negative way; distort: the experiences had colored her whole existence
More example sentences
  • He was nineteen when his mother died in 1821 and his boyhood experiences would colour his whole prodigious output of novels, poetry and plays.
  • Every relationship here is colored by the influence of these intoxicants, and every aspect of every relationship.
  • What they see is coloured by their previous experiences.
influence, affect, taint, warp, skew, distort, bias, prejudice
3.1Misrepresent by distortion or exaggeration: witnesses might color evidence to make a story saleable
More example sentences
  • The debate has often been coloured by misinformation and manipulation, and it is not easy for a political party in Government to deal with those matters.
  • His counsel has submitted that her evidence cannot be relied upon and that it has been coloured by the knowledge that a criminal charge is hanging over her for assisting an offender.
  • The account may well be colored by her desire to go to America.
exaggerate, overstate, embroider, embellish, dramatize, enhance, varnish;
falsify, misreport, manipulate



lend (or give) color to

Make something seem true or probable: this lent color and credibility to his defense
More example sentences
  • His high cylindrical crown, triple-wound knotted girdle and long, thin nose lend colour to the suggestion that they were of Iranian origin.
  • This helped to explain what would otherwise have been inexplicable, and hence lent colour to her evidence about the state of her belief.
  • The timing of his remarks appears to lend color to the interpretation that his move was reactive rather than proactive.

—— of color


show one's true colors

Reveal one’s real character or intentions, especially when these are disreputable or dishonorable.
Example sentences
  • In some ways it's a real blessing that Bill showed his true colors relatively early in our relationship.
  • There is effective suspense, sure, but the villains are clearly defined, and any ambiguous characters immediately show their true colors.
  • Polly starts out as an innocent young woman swept away by the romance of a wedding, but soon shows her true colours by taking over her husband's old firm of gangsters as soon as he is out of the way.

under color of

Under the pretext of.
Example sentences
  • What have you done besides taking our liberties, stealing our money under colour of law and protecting and supporting the agenda of the internationalists?
  • Federal law makes it a crime for a person ‘acting under color of law’ to willfully violate the constitutional rights of any person.
  • How long will it take this time, especially if further investigation confirms what we all already know - that this election was stolen under color of law?

with flying colors

see flying.


Middle English (as colo(u)r): from Old French colour (noun), colourer (verb), from Latin color (noun), colorare (verb).

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: col·or

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