Definition of paint in English:

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Pronunciation: /peɪnt/


1 [mass noun] A coloured substance which is spread over a surface and dries to leave a thin decorative or protective coating: a tin of paint [count noun]: bituminous paints
More example sentences
  • Carpenters were now putting a fresh coating of paint on the house, making it look almost as though it had just been built.
  • Watered-down paint soaks into the porous concrete so it won't flake or peel like surface paint does.
  • We did test some acrylic paint on tiles and it was just totally unsatisfactory so we chose what, I guess, was the appropriate paint for the surface.
colouring, colourant, tint, dye, stain, pigment, wash, colour;
1.1 [count noun] An act of painting something: the house looked in need of a good paint
More example sentences
  • The walls needed a fresh paint, the floor needed vacuuming, and when was the last time I had dusted?
  • Jaipur's date with the pink color goes back to 1905-06, when Jaipur city was getting ready to greet the Prince of Wales and needed a fresh paint all over.
1.2 informal Cosmetic make-up: one has false curls, another too much paint
More example sentences
  • Her hair was done up in glossy curls and her face bore paint used for makeup.
  • He looked bizarre in a Rasta wig, a multi-coloured hat, a Caribbean-style shirt and brown make-up paint daubed over his face.
  • If anti-Rococo critics claimed oil paint was too much like cosmetic paint, social critics held that the reverse was true.
1.3 Computing The function or capability of producing graphics, especially those that mimic the effect of real paint: [as modifier]: a paint program
More example sentences
  • Photoshop has long been a leader among graphics manipulation and paint software.
  • Upgrade your ability to edit images with this free paint program.
  • If the artwork isn't perfect, I fire up my paint program and make adjustments myself.
2North American A piebald horse: [as modifier]: a paint mare
More example sentences
  • Usually such markings were only found on paints, and yet he was a simple quarter horse.
  • The program was successful at Paint of a Different Color the first year and Al ended up with a beautiful homozygous filly and a palomino paint colt.
  • Less than a mile behind, the beam of light washed over another man; a man trotting alongside a paint horse.
3 [in singular] Basketball The rectangular area marked near the basket at each end of the court: the two players jostled in the paint
More example sentences
  • He has quick feet and enough moves to get three or four baskets in the paint.
  • With Baylor and Chamberlain down in the paint, Counts was free to play away from the basket and use his great outside touch.
  • It used to be a quick team, with small but tough players in the paint, good (but not great) shooters, and clever point guards.


[with object]
1Cover the surface of (something) with paint: [with object and complement]: the ceiling was painted dark grey (as adjective, with submodifier painted) a brightly painted caravan
More example sentences
  • The walls were painted a dark blue with gold lining on the ceiling and floor.
  • The roof was made from sand paper cut and painted to resemble slates.
  • It was noted that the railings of the Clodiagh Bridge had been freshly painted and that the river name signs looked well.
colour, apply paint to, decorate, tint, dye, stain, distemper, whitewash, emulsion, gloss, spray, spray-paint, airbrush, roller, coat, cover
daub, smear, plaster, spray, spray-paint, airbrush
1.1Apply cosmetics to (the skin): she couldn’t have been more than fourteen but her face was thickly painted
More example sentences
  • He'd painted his skin a whole different shade of beige.
  • Hip, sophisticated and painted with Japanese cosmetics, the heroines move slickly through a life of nightclubbing, jet planes and media parties.
  • Next was the easy part, or so I thought - sitting in a chair for a few hours, doing nothing but having my skin painted.
1.2Apply (a liquid) to a surface with a brush.
Example sentences
  • The film opens with a pre-title sequence that shows a close-up of a brush as it paints a large black spot on a blank canvas.
  • With his free hand, he picked up a small paint brush and resumed painting the concave interior, where a detailed scene of army camp life was almost complete.
  • All that you need to do is paint the clear liquid dots all over your boat.
1.3 (paint something out) Obliterate something with paint: the markings on the plane were hurriedly painted out
More example sentences
  • In fact, Hopper had originally included a figure in the upper storey, but later painted it out.
  • He added: ‘I will be more than happy myself to simply turn up one Saturday morning and paint the lines out.’
  • A vandal would have to go out, buy some Liquid Paper and paint the mustache out in order to deface it.
2Depict (someone or something) or produce (a picture) with paint: I painted a woman sitting next to a table lamp he paints landscapes and portraits
More example sentences
  • ‘In these pictures I have painted people who go to Bridge House and being a part of my pictures gives them confidence in their own abilities’.
  • My best holiday was with Leo, the artist who'd painted me, and his wife Gemma one summer.
  • In 1995, he commissioned a Chinese artist to paint him together with his wife, son and daughter.
portray, picture, paint a picture of, depict, delineate, draw, sketch, represent, catch (a likeness of);
reproduce, illustrate, render
2.1Give a description of: the city is not as bad as it is painted
More example sentences
  • Though the mystical element is rather missing from his character here, Adès paints Prospero as a wonderfully vengeful mage.
  • The author paints a clear and useful description of the science of color.
  • The remake of Casino Royale, the first Bond novel, will concentrate instead on the character of the spy, painted by Ian Fleming in the book as a suave, coldly aggressive seducer.
tell, recount, narrate, set forth/out, outline, sketch, detail, unfold, describe, depict, characterize, evoke, conjure up
2.2 Computing Create (a graphic or screen display) using a paint program: the program enables you to paint images on your screen
More example sentences
  • An aggregate of about 400 gigaflops was needed to paint a semi-realistic image of a compact car on a display screen.
  • Two-dimensional cartoons are no longer created by tracing and painting but assembled on computer screens using software like Director and After Effects.
  • First, the quality of the phosphors available in the early days was not that great, and the dots would start to fade out before the entire screen could be painted.
3Display a mark representing (an aircraft or vehicle) on a radar screen: flying behind hills lessens the enemy’s ability to paint you with radar
More example sentences
  • On August 15, the boat was on a routine patrol when its radar painted a vessel at about 12 nm.
  • After being airborne for a half-hour, we painted a few contacts about 70 miles north.



like watching paint dry

(Of an activity or experience) extremely boring.
Example sentences
  • Sometimes it's boring, it's like watching paint dry.
  • They didn't want to touch it, man, it's boring, it's like watching paint dry, it's like watching grass grow.
  • Miserable weather, nothing happening apparently, short days, long nights, it's like a sort of void, waiting expectantly, like watching paint dry, suddenly the whole world goes mad for a few days.

paint a picture of

Describe (someone or something) in a particular way: the president painted a grim picture of life in the next century
More example sentences
  • An article in the March 16 issue of the San Jose Mercury News begins to paint a picture of what California consumers will face.
  • He doesn't criticize the definitions, he chooses instead to try to paint a picture of extremism where there isn't any.
  • I think what she's trying to do is paint a picture of him more of a liberal.

paint oneself into a corner

Leave oneself no means of escape or room to manoeuvre.
Example sentences
  • So the administration has done a pretty good job of painting itself into a corner where it has to act - and soon.
  • For all the exhilarating invention in these three books, however, there is also the sense of an author painting himself into a corner.
  • So I think they've kind of painted themselves into a corner here, and we're working with them to help get them out of that corner.

paint the town red

informal Go out and enjoy oneself flamboyantly: you want to have a good time and paint the town red this weekend
More example sentences
  • Once in a while, someone from up North comes to town, and paints the town red.
  • We were simply there to paint the town red by way of celebration for Stuart's birthday.
  • Raise the roof and paint the town red, there's cause for celebration.
celebrate, carouse, enjoy oneself, make merry, have a good/wild time, party, have a party;
North American  step out
informal go out on the town, whoop it up, make whoopee, have a night on the tiles, live it up, have a ball, push the boat out
dated go on a spree

Phrasal verbs

paint up

Australian (In Aboriginal English) decorate the body for ceremonial purposes: the dancers generally help one another to paint up
More example sentences
  • They were all painted up and dancing that special dance of the sisters, djirrididi.
  • The Tjapukai dancers, painted up and in full costume, joined their people in protest demonstrations.
  • I found myself painted up and on an Aboriginal dance ground, unable to make any sense of the steps required.



Example sentences
  • Apart from the squared off potholes, the view on both sides was magnificently paintable.
  • After the surface has been thoroughly dried, apply one coat of a paintable water repellent preservative or water repellent to the bare wood, being careful to liberally treat end and lap joints.
  • Fill the cracks between the old and new boards (the 1/8-inch cracks left from before) with paintable caulk.


Example sentences
  • He held out his painty hands as though a cat's cradle was strung up between them.
  • When I got back, the paint was dry, so I got on with the second coat and ended up almost as painty as I had been before I went to the gym.
  • After painting this room, the decorators decided to tip their buckets of painty, murky water down a sink by the wall.


Middle English: from peint 'painted', past participle of Old French peindre, from Latin pingere 'to paint'.

  • Paint is from Old French peint ‘painted’, from Latin pingere ‘to paint’. To paint the town red dates from the late 19th century. It is first found in the USA which puts in doubt the story that it comes from an occasion in 1837 when Marquis of Waterford and some young friends ran riot in the Leicestershire town of Melton Mowbray and painted some of the buildings red. An alternative interpretation is that revellers were thought of as having such a wild time that they treated the entire town like a red light district. Paint yourself into a corner, from the image of someone painting a floor and forgetting to start near a doorway to avoid crossing the wet paint, arose in the 1970s. Painter (Middle English) goes back to Latin pictor which also gives us picturesque (early 18th century) the spelling changed to fit with picture.

Words that rhyme with paint

acquaint, ain't, attaint, complaint, constraint, distraint, faint, feint, plaint, quaint, restraint, saint, taint

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: paint

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