There are 2 main definitions of pale in English:

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pale1

Line breaks: pale
Pronunciation: /peɪl
 
/

adjective

1Light in colour or shade; containing little colour or pigment: choose pale floral patterns for walls
More example sentences
  • I had never lived anywhere that had a rainy season and could not imagine that I would open my shoe closet one day to find all my shoes a fuzzy shade of pale green.
  • From the back pocket of her jeans, she takes a smooth polished stone, shades of pale green swirled inside it like ocean waves.
  • Little wonder almost all of them dabbled in different shades of pale green and blue.
Synonyms
light, light-coloured, pastel, neutral, light-toned, muted, subtle, soft, low-key, restrained;
faded, bleached, dusty, whitish, washed out, insipid
1.1(Of a person or their complexion) having less colour than usual, typically as a result of shock, fear, or ill health: she looked pale and drawn
More example sentences
  • She is in shock, and her pale complexion is becoming more and more flecked with blood.
  • He was clean shaven, with a pale complexion and drawn cheeks.
  • She was pale skinned with some freckles and a pixie nose.
Synonyms
1.2 [usually attributive] (Of a light) not strong or bright: a pale dawn
More example sentences
  • The moon is radiant, glowing bright as pale sunshine, revealing the white caps of the waves twelve stories below.
  • I watched with dry, weary eyes as the pale light of dawn overwhelmed the amber glow of the Parisian night sky.
  • Above him only a pale light, like dawn, silhouetted shadowy figures, half-human, half-mist.
Synonyms
2Inferior or unimpressive: the new cheese is a pale imitation of continental cheeses
More example sentences
  • The irony is that if he had done the decent thing he may well have taken a hit in the polls, but it wouldn't have been as big as the hit he took by appearing to be a pale imitation of the Prime Minister.
  • While it will satisfy a chicken craving, the food is a pale imitation of fiery Jamaican fare and not as straightforward as your average rotisserie.
  • Kilmarnock, with six experienced players missing, were a pale imitation of the side Jim Jefferies would have liked to have sent out at Parkhead.
Synonyms
inferior, poor, feeble, weak, insipid, wishy-washy, vapid, bland, puny, flat, inadequate, ineffectual, ineffective, half-hearted;
lame, tame, uninspired, unimaginative, lacklustre, spiritless, lifeless, anaemic, bloodless
informal pathetic
rare etiolated

verb

[no object] Back to top  
1Become pale in one’s face from shock or fear: I paled at the thought of what she might say
More example sentences
  • Georgi Malenkov, in the chair, paled for fear that the other members would not instantly stand up to protest and demand that the request be denied.
  • What lay before her struck her like a dagger, causing her to pale with fear, even begin to sob silently.
  • His face paled, and his eyes went wide with shock.
Synonyms
go/turn white, grow/turn/become pale, blanch, blench, lose colour;
whiten, lighten
2Seem or become less important: all else pales by comparison
More example sentences
  • Both of those paled into insignificance in comparison to episode three, though.
  • As much as he enjoyed his career, it paled into insignificance beside the love he felt for his family.
  • Hunting is important to me but it pales in comparison to family responsibility.
Synonyms
decrease in importance, lose significance, pale into insignificance;
fade, dwindle, diminish, lessen, dim, lose lustre

Origin

Middle English: from Old French pale, from Latin pallidus; the verb is from Old French palir.

More
  • The word for a ‘stake’ is from Old French pal, from Latin palus ‘stake’, which ultimately goes back to the same root found in page and pageant as well as paling (Late Middle English). The Pale was a name given to the part of Ireland under English jurisdiction before the 16th century. The earliest reference to the Pale in Ireland, from the modestly titled Introduction to Knowledge of 1547, stated that Ireland was divided into two parts, one being the English Pale and the other being ‘the wild Irish’. Many people believe that this enclosed English part of Ireland was the source of the expression beyond the pale but this is extremely unlikely, as the phrase is not recorded until the 18th century, and its origin remains something of a mystery. The Latin also gives us palisade (early 17th century), and impale (mid 16th century) first found in the sense ‘surround with a pale, fortify’, with ‘thrust a stake though’ recorded from the late 17th century. The adjective meaning ‘light’ comes via Old French pale from Latin pallidus, with the same meaning, and also the source of pallor (Late Middle English) and pallid (late 16th century), and has been in the language since the Middle Ages.

Derivatives

palely

1
adverb
Example sentences
  • At intermission, sun streams in from the Neva side; when the performance ends, it still gleams palely off the river.
  • Cowering in a corner, eyelashes palely blinking, Amis looks as if he hopes to get through his 15 minutes of network fame by going entirely unrecognised.
  • The moon peeked through the snow clouds as we tramped the palely gleaming moorland tracks and stood, still and silent, on the white side roads among the conifers.

paleness

2
noun
Example sentences
  • The presence of one's beloved causes paleness of complexion.
  • The only exception to this is post-war Europe, which only received better treatment due to the paleness of its inhabitants.
  • Gwen, who is too heavy on the bleach at the end, and melts away into indeterminate paleness, survives through the excellent stubbornness of her direction.

palish

3
adjective
Example sentences
  • If she's still wearing something, it's a pair of black pants and a lacy tank top, her hair is long and dark, she's palish with big hazel eyes.
  • Our palish bodies now somewhat tanned as we headed into the city limits of L.A.
  • Their Urine is palish and mean in substance, and they dream of fearful things, terrible visions and darkness.

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There are 2 main definitions of pale in English:

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pale2

Line breaks: pale
Pronunciation: /peɪl
 
/

noun

1A wooden stake or post used with others to form a fence.
Example sentences
  • Get creative with a picket fence and have diagonal pales nailed to the horizontal boards.
  • To make it more secure push stones into the ground around the edge of the pale.
  • The pale gate complements our pale fence panel, or alternatively it can be used in isolation in a hedge or brick built wall.
Synonyms
stake, post, pole, paling, picket, upright;
palisade
1.1A conceptual boundary: bring these things back within the pale of decency
More example sentences
  • It brought us within the pale of science but at a price: the tacit agreement that we never declare psi to have been proven.
  • Our views on these issues are not heretical and not unique to us, but are squarely within the pale of orthodoxy.
  • I am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary!
Synonyms
boundary, confines, bounds, limits
2 historical An area within determined bounds, or subject to a particular jurisdiction.
Example sentences
  • The 3 major English Lords whose estates were within the Pale continued to exist, and formed alliances with the neighbouring Irish and became very powerful.
  • Indeed, St. Petersburg Jews were like their counterparts within the Pale, only, it. seems, more so.
2.1 (the Pale) another term for English Pale.
2.2The areas of Russia to which Jewish residence was formerly restricted.
3 Heraldry A broad vertical stripe down the middle of a shield.
Example sentences
  • A narrow pale is more likely if it is uncharged, that is, if it does not have other objects placed on it.
  • The pale is an ordinary, consisting of two perpendicular lines.

Origin

Middle English: from Old French pal, from Latin palus 'stake'.

More
  • The word for a ‘stake’ is from Old French pal, from Latin palus ‘stake’, which ultimately goes back to the same root found in page and pageant as well as paling (Late Middle English). The Pale was a name given to the part of Ireland under English jurisdiction before the 16th century. The earliest reference to the Pale in Ireland, from the modestly titled Introduction to Knowledge of 1547, stated that Ireland was divided into two parts, one being the English Pale and the other being ‘the wild Irish’. Many people believe that this enclosed English part of Ireland was the source of the expression beyond the pale but this is extremely unlikely, as the phrase is not recorded until the 18th century, and its origin remains something of a mystery. The Latin also gives us palisade (early 17th century), and impale (mid 16th century) first found in the sense ‘surround with a pale, fortify’, with ‘thrust a stake though’ recorded from the late 17th century. The adjective meaning ‘light’ comes via Old French pale from Latin pallidus, with the same meaning, and also the source of pallor (Late Middle English) and pallid (late 16th century), and has been in the language since the Middle Ages.

Phrases

beyond the pale

1
Outside the bounds of acceptable behaviour: the language my father used was beyond the pale
More example sentences
  • It has helped establish a social norm in Britain, rendering the once acceptable racism of the 1970s beyond the pale today.
  • Piracy became and remained beyond the pale of legitimate state behavior.
  • The panic about the far right is less an objection to particular policies than a moral distaste for individuals and ideas deemed to be beyond the pale.
Synonyms
unacceptable, unseemly, improper, indiscreet, unsuitable, irregular, unreasonable, intolerable, disgraceful, deplorable, outrageous, scandalous, shocking, insupportable, objectionable, offensive, distasteful
informal not on, not the done thing, out of order, out of line
Australian/New Zealand informal over the fence
rare exceptionable

in pale

2
Heraldry Arranged vertically.
Example sentences
  • It has three gold lions on a red background, walking with their heads turned to face out from the shield, or, in heraldic language ‘Gules, three lions passant guardant in pale Or.’
  • This design is blazoned as ‘Gules, three lions passant guardant in pale Or,’ and it is still the coat of arms of England today.
  • Two escutcheons are surcharged in pale.

per pale

3
Heraldry Divided by a vertical line.
Example sentences
  • It is interesting that Thomas Chaucer chose his maternal Roet arms over his paternal Chaucer arms, these being parti per pale, a bend over all.
  • The shield is party per pale half-way down.
  • Two vested angels hold shields with the arms: Per pale, baron and femme.

Definition of pale in:

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