Definition of brown in English:

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Pronunciation: /braʊn/


1Of a colour produced by mixing red, yellow, and blue, as of dark wood or rich soil: an old brown coat she had warm brown eyes
More example sentences
  • Everything about it - the taste, the rich dark brown colour, the scent - was wonderful.
  • The décor was navy blue, gold and dark brown wood, and the place almost looked like the inside of a ship.
  • Ilaria was no longer a blue lush world but a dark yellow and brown wasteland.
brunette, mousy;
sepia, mahogany, umber, burnt sienna;
bay, sorrel, dun, brindle, brindled;
auburn, tawny, coppery, chestnut, bronze, russet
1.1Dark-skinned or suntanned: his face was brown from the sun
More example sentences
  • He was tall with longish black hair swept out of his eyes, and sun tanned brown skin.
  • The sun just made her brown skin glow even more clearly, making me jealous as hell.
  • I was here in Toronto for like four hours and my light brown skin had that sun kissed look.
1.2 South African term for coloured (sense 2 of the adjective).
Example sentences
  • That same fall, Celeste started talking about "brown people."
  • By the 19th century, the notion of a single "brown people" was being overthrown.
  • n 1950s (and later) South Africa the "brown people" were the Coloureds, who were largely, and erroneously, believed to have been the production of black-white sexual union out of wedlock.
1.3(Of bread) light brown in colour and typically made with unbleached or unrefined wholemeal flour: a slice of brown toast with low fat spread
More example sentences
  • Unfortunately, the large, strongly-flavoured brown breadcrumbs overwhelmed the oysters.
  • They let me out after a week because I told the doctor I'd managed to eat a piece of dry brown toast.
  • I start with porridge, and then mid-morning I have six egg whites on brown toast.


1 [mass noun] Brown colour or pigment: the brown of his eyes a pair of boots in brown [count noun]: the print is rich with velvety browns
More example sentences
  • The area of low-lying swamp or marsh, as revealed through archaeology, is shown in brown.
  • Vertebrate genes are shown in brown, invertebrates in red, plants in green, and fungi in blue.
  • The opposite trend is shown in brown, where residents tend to buy new, not used.
1.1Brown clothes or material: a woman all in brown
More example sentences
  • This seems to be a regular feature; why they don't just do away with green and play in brown, the natural colour of the Borders in winter, remains a mystery.
  • There she was, coming up the platform towards me at Runcorn, all in brown, with fluttering eyelashes.
  • The new guest was followed closely by a puny boy in puke - green and two heavy bumbling guys in brown.
2A brown thing, in particular the brown ball in snooker.
Example sentences
  • However, the teenager held his nerve in the decider, Cooper requiring snookers on the brown when 73-49 down.
  • Watkinson took green but left an easy brown while attempting a snooker, for Ventress to go further ahead 57-29.
  • But the initiative was handed back to him after Dott snookered himself on the brown after potting the green and he was able to nick the frame.
3 [with modifier] A satyrid butterfly, which typically has brown wings with small eyespots.
Example sentences
  • A similar species is the Meadow Brown, especially in the female sex, which likes to rest with closed wings however, especially the far less active females.
  • The Gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus) sometimes called the Hedge Brown is a common butterfly in the United Kingdom.
  • As indicated by its alternate name, the gatekeeper butterfly prefers the habitat of meadow margins and hedges; field gates are often in such locations, and thus the Gatekeeper can be found much more frequently in such locations than the Meadow Brown for example.
4 South African term for coloured (sense 1 of the noun). compulsory education for blacks and browns


Make or become brown, typically by cooking: [with object]: a skillet in which food has been browned [no object]: grill the pizza until the cheese has browned
More example sentences
  • Sprinkle with cheese and bake 5 more minutes or until cheese has slightly browned.
  • Squash the mixture down with a palette knife and cook till the bottom has browned and crisped in the butter.
  • Spread out in pan and sauté over moderate heat for about four to five minutes, until bottom has crusted and browned.



(as) brown as a berry

(Of a person) very suntanned: she’d lost her pale, city complexion and become as brown as a berry
More example sentences
  • With luck I'll be brown as a berry once more by the end of the summer.
  • I am sure you will have the holiday of a lifetime and come back to the town looking brown as a berry.
  • I am now as brown as a berry all in a short fortnight.

in a brown study

see study.

Phrasal verbs

be browned off

British informal Be irritated or depressed: they’re getting browned off with the overtime
More example sentences
  • The Colonel said that some of his men were browned off because there had been no opposition on the beaches.
  • He was browned off too - bored out of his mind in a garden pond swimming round the same cement gnome every day.
  • Well dear I suppose you'll be browned off with all that, but if you want to hear of more experiences let me know.
discontented, discouraged, disheartened, depressed;
bored, weary, tired
vulgar slang pissed off



Pronunciation: /ˈbrəʊnnɪs/
Example sentences
  • It seems to me that we can exhort and hope all we want to, but the imposition of blackness, brownness, yellowness or redness is not something an individual controls.
  • This was all just prelude to the cloud of monkeys that not long after passed like a vast red-faced brownness through our little patch of blue sky.
  • Cooking them to the right level of brownness was more difficult.


Pronunciation: /ˈbraʊni/
Example sentences
  • In the early 70s, the store converted to UPC readers, which I now think was rather ahead it of its time. It coincided with an utter browning of the store, though - brown and orange, orangish browns and browny oranges.
  • Dylan goes up to a security guard and describes Janae to him - ‘She's about this high with browny blondish hair.’
  • Rudbeckia Goldquelle is a double-flowered species with bushy growth and mid yellow blooms from July to September while the unusual Rudbeckia mollis has hairy leaves and a browny green cone.


Old English brūn, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch bruin and German braun.

  • In Old English brown simply meant ‘dark’. It acquired its modern sense in Middle English. The idea of darkness developed into a further sense of ‘gloomy or serious’, and this is the sense that occurs in the 16th-century phrase a brown study, ‘absorbed in one's thoughts’. The use of ‘study’ is puzzling to us today. It is not a room for working in, but a state of daydreaming or meditation, a meaning long out of use in English. See also auburn, baize

Words that rhyme with brown

Browne, clown, crown, down, downtown, drown, frown, gown, low-down, noun, renown, run-down, town, upside-down, uptown

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: brown

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