Definition of brown in English:



  • 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’
    • ‘Ilaria was no longer a blue lush world but a dark yellow and brown wasteland.’
    • ‘Jess, everyone called him, was tall with short straight, dark brown hair and blue eyes devoid of any emotion.’
    • ‘It consisted of three stuffed potato patties that had been coated in a slightly crunchy and tasty breading, and fried to a dark brown colour.’
    • ‘He sends you up a very nice pudding, symmetrical in design, of a good consistency, and of a rich brown colour.’
    • ‘The girl blinked, looking at the 19 year old with shoulder length dark blue hair and dark brown eyes.’
    • ‘Nick's soup was a rich brown colour and had a full-bodied mushroom flavour.’
    • ‘Everything about it - the taste, the rich dark brown colour, the scent - was wonderful.’
    • ‘He was clean-shaven, and I knew I'd got my dark brown eye colour from him.’
    • ‘Nobody ever made a more straight drill or ploughed a field with such precision and he was at his happiest as he turned the rich brown soil followed by a flock of hungry gulls.’
    • ‘He was won over in two bites of non-greasy, tender chunks of meat nestled in a rich dark brown curry sauce.’
    • ‘He had a slight muscular build, which was covered by a dark blue winter coat with brown leather patches on the elbows.’
    • ‘It was accented with rich brown wood that was used as shelving, chairs and a spa bed.’
    • ‘The guy was grinning and had dark brown curls and ice blue eyes.’
    • ‘The décor was navy blue, gold and dark brown wood, and the place almost looked like the inside of a ship.’
    • ‘Golden yellow and rich brown hues accompany fresh floral accents and ruggedly attractive iron light fixtures.’
    • ‘When the meat is a nice, dark brown colour and has been set aside, add the onions to the pot.’
    • ‘With his blue eyes and dark brown hair, he was every girl's dream.’
    • ‘Everything in the department stores was brown and dark blue.’
    • ‘Now awake and in charge of the day, he longed to be off, striding across the rich brown soil, out into the world, to explore.’
    • ‘The dark brown furniture and yellow light coming from the engraved copper lamp created a cozy ambience.’
    hazel, chocolate-coloured, coffee-coloured, cocoa-coloured, nut-brown
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    1. 1.1(of bread) light brown in colour and typically made with unbleached or unrefined wholemeal flour.
      ‘a slice of brown toast with low fat spread’
      • ‘Eaten with home-made Branston-style pickle and an abundant supply of delightful olive, nut and fociaccia bread plus crunchy brown rolls, this got the gastric juices flowing.’
      • ‘Unfortunately, the large, strongly-flavoured brown breadcrumbs overwhelmed the oysters.’
      • ‘All I ask for to see me through the day is a nice piece of ripe brie, a crusty brown roll and a glass or two of a not-too-dry white.’
      • ‘He then asked if I needed milk and gave me a litre and a brown loaf.’
      • ‘I start with porridge, and then mid-morning I have six egg whites on brown toast.’
      • ‘If you slip away from the main tourist scene, you'll likely stumble upon a bakery offering freshly baked brown loaves from 200-year-old recipes.’
      • ‘I went in and offered my French francs, which the baker accepted and he handed me a small brown loaf.’
      • ‘Meanwhile the other salesperson was tossing the brown loaves into a slicing machine as fast as he could.’
      • ‘I opted for a ham and tomato brown baguette.’
      • ‘Ann ordered a local free-range egg and cress sandwich in a soft brown roll, with side salad.’
      • ‘My breakfast is always the same: two pieces of brown toast with slices of banana on top, a cup of tea and an apple juice.’
      • ‘They let me out after a week because I told the doctor I'd managed to eat a piece of dry brown toast.’
      unbleached, wholemeal
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  • 2Dark-skinned or suntanned.

    ‘his face was brown from the sun’
    • ‘Her half-long hair was bleached by the sun and salt, making her skin appear almost brown by contrast.’
    • ‘The sun just made her brown skin glow even more clearly, making me jealous as hell.’
    • ‘And I think I can forget about getting a suntan, I'll probably come back with a brown face, that's all.’
    • ‘He was tall with longish black hair swept out of his eyes, and sun tanned brown skin.’
    • ‘I was here in Toronto for like four hours and my light brown skin had that sun kissed look.’
    tanned, suntanned, perma-tanned, sunburned, browned, bronze, bronzed, weather-beaten
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    1. 2.1Relating or belonging to a human group characterized as having relatively dark-coloured skin (chiefly used of peoples of ancestry other than European or African)
      ‘I interviewed 60 mostly black and brown leaders around our nation’
    2. 2.2
      South African term for coloured
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘That same fall, Celeste started talking about "brown people."’


  • 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’
    • ‘Donaldson is unapologetic about the symbolism of these colours: brown for the earth, blue for the sky.’
    • ‘Vertebrate genes are shown in brown, invertebrates in red, plants in green, and fungi in blue.’
    • ‘All methods of aquatint are printed in the same manner as regular etching, but frequently aquatints were printed in brown as well as black.’
    • ‘Naila looked down to see she also wore a simple dress, but in brown.’
    • ‘I feel light brown is the natural colour for you in the long-term.’
    • ‘Neutral colours like brown, cream and black are practical choices for this sort of bag.’
    • ‘There is a heavy use of earthly colours of tree-bark brown and earth red in Aboriginal art as the Aborigines are deeply influenced by nature.’
    • ‘The rest of the party found it inspirational, but I don't like the colour brown - which is a bit of a problem in Morocco.’
    • ‘Increased glucose conditions are shown in brown, whereas decreased glucose is shown in blue.’
    • ‘Pendulous sedges crowded the footpath, fungi sprouted in brown, black, orange and white.’
    • ‘And a low cut waist accented with a wide belt in brown is most fashionable while it shows off your charming figure.’
    • ‘I like to tint the shellback using a waterproof marker in brown or olive.’
    • ‘The opposite trend is shown in brown, where residents tend to buy new, not used.’
    • ‘I still however have a thing for plasticine, those long lengths of the stuff in various uninspirational colours like green and brown.’
    • ‘The overriding colours are natural hues of tan, brown and olive greens contrasted with a bright white base, to give a soft, earthy look.’
    • ‘Yeldham is fond of red, a popular colour for paintings, and also of brown, another colour that fits in nicely with interior design schemas.’
    • ‘It starts off as a series of brush strokes in brown, red and green, but ends up as an exquisite painting imparting a beautiful luminosity.’
    • ‘The area of low-lying swamp or marsh, as revealed through archaeology, is shown in brown.’
    • ‘Soups and noodles came in colours such as brown, orange, light green, cream, yellow, white and brownish red.’
    • ‘There are three colours available: brown, whitish yellow and honey whitish yellow being the natural colour of the wood.’
    1. 1.1Brown clothes or material.
      ‘a woman all in brown’
      • ‘A group of roughly a hundred human men, dressed in greens, browns, and blacks, were standing of on the crest of a small hill, weapons in hand.’
      • ‘She led a party of about six men towards an empty table, two of these also robed, but in brown, and the others in the attire of boatmen.’
      • ‘A figure cloaked in brown was huddled over two other, smaller ones.’
      • ‘A middle-aged woman in brown came running up to Fire and threw her arms over his neck.’
      • ‘Once there, he found a figure, cloaked in brown in the throne chair.’
      • ‘He was dressed in brown, with a deep green cloak and hood, and his hands were gloved.’
      • ‘He saw Oprah sitting on her couch, dressed in brown and talking to the audience about a book called Age and Time.’
      • ‘She dressed all in brown and a tight bun, made her eyes stretch to the corners.’
      • ‘Alia asked, looking up to the man robed in brown, hood drawn back enough to see his face.’
      • ‘Supporters swathed in brown and gold formed a guard of honour in front of the banner.’
      • ‘There she was, coming up the platform towards me at Runcorn, all in brown, with fluttering eyelashes.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The great buffet running the length of the hall stood out with all it's color against the various grays, browns, and blacks that the peasantry so commonly wore.’
      • ‘They seemed to be called away from whatever task they happened to be doing, dressed in drab blacks, browns, and blues.’
      • ‘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.

    • ‘Doherty has two good chances but misses two browns which allows Hunter to edge home.’
    • ‘In all he had nine blacks, two pinks, three blues and a brown as the table was cleared of the red balls.’
    • ‘Watkinson took green but left an easy brown while attempting a snooker, for Ventress to go further ahead 57-29.’
    • ‘But White missed the vital brown and Pinches held his nerve to clear up to the pink and claim the biggest win of his life.’
    • ‘White put him back in, but Virgo was fuming at referee Alan Chamberlain for his placement of the brown.’
    • ‘Coulson potted green and added the brown by playing across the table when snookered and the brown was over a middle pocket.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘O'Sullivan looked to be on his way out when he fluffed a brown in the 12th frame to let Peter Ebdon go one frame from victory.’
    • ‘Williams has three chances to win the frame but spurns them all and Doherty looks to be cleaning up but misses a straightforward brown.’
    • ‘However, the teenager held his nerve in the decider, Cooper requiring snookers on the brown when 73-49 down.’
    • ‘Doherty makes a positive start with an aggressive red but is undone on his next shot when the brown hits the jaws and bounces off the table.’
    • ‘The Irishman cleared up in the second after Higgins missed a brown and notched up a 60 break on the way to winning the third.’
    • ‘But Stevens then misses the brown, and an exchange of unbelievably tense safety follows.’
    • ‘And after a 30-minute tactical battle in the final frame, Lee wrapped up the game after Davis missed the brown.’
  • 3[with modifier] A satyrid butterfly, which typically has brown wings with small eyespots.

    • ‘The Gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus) sometimes called the Hedge Brown is a common butterfly in the United Kingdom.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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

    ‘compulsory education for blacks and browns’
    South African term for coloured


  • 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’
    • ‘Spread out in pan and sauté over moderate heat for about four to five minutes, until bottom has crusted and browned.’
    • ‘Once all sides of the roast have been browned, place the roast fat side up on a rack in the roasting pan.’
    • ‘Zino recommends that salt be added after the patty has been browned because salt brings out the juices.’
    • ‘She tossed dough balls from hand to hand and placed them on a hot tin sheet over the fire where they browned in seconds.’
    • ‘The smell when these are browning under the grill is amazing.’
    • ‘Half an hour before kick-off melt the butter and olive oil in a heavy, medium-sized saucepan and add the onions, cooking them very gently for 10 minutes without browning.’
    • ‘Cook over a gentle heat until the vegetables have softened but not browned.’
    • ‘Just browned a roast on both sides and stuck it in the crock pot with water and onion soup mix.’
    • ‘A large piece of braising meat, usually beef but sometimes lamb or pork, is browned in olive oil in a heavy pot.’
    • ‘Now baste the turkey very thoroughly with a long-handled spoon, then return it to the oven for a further 30-45 minutes to finish browning - give it as much basting as you can during this final cooking period.’
    • ‘From time to time, push the spuds, particularly those that are browning quickly to one side, and spoon any cooking juices over any that appear dry.’
    • ‘Squash the mixture down with a palette knife and cook till the bottom has browned and crisped in the butter.’
    • ‘If they appear stressed and browned by drought, most will rejuvenate after a good cut back and regular watering.’
    • ‘Combine in a frying pan with the olive oil, garlic, fennel seeds, capers, sea salt and pepper, and gently stew for 10 to 15 minutes, without actually ‘frying’ or browning.’
    • ‘Once the pork has browned and is close to being cooked, add the soy sauce and the juice of the lime and splash more sesame oil.’
    • ‘We found fried eggs cooked too quickly and pancakes browned unevenly in the Specifics because the centre of the pan was hotter than the edges.’
    • ‘Cover loosely with foil towards the end of baking to prevent the cake from browning.’
    • ‘Stir the vegetables around in the juices, then put the tin back in the oven to finish browning and caramelising at the edges.’
    • ‘It is important not to crowd the pan, so the beef may need to be browned in 2 batches.’
    • ‘Sprinkle with cheese and bake 5 more minutes or until cheese has slightly browned.’
    singe, sear, seal
    grill, toast, barbecue, fry, sauté, bake
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  • (as) brown as a berry

    • (of a person) very suntanned.

      ‘she'd lost her pale, city complexion and become as brown as a berry’
      • ‘He's brown as a berry from ridin' the prairie and sings with an ol' western drawl.’
      • ‘A rugged little fellow of manly countenance, black-haired, and brown as a berry, was among the passengers of the steamship California who were transferred yesterday to Ellis Island.’
      • ‘I am now as brown as a berry all in a short fortnight.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In the words of Bruce Springsteen, we went down to the river, and into the river we dived, along with the au pair girl, who was by now as brown as a berry.’
      • ‘To play on the trampoline and go off to la playa and get brown as a berry.’
  • in a brown study

    • Absorbed in one's thoughts.

      • ‘Andrew and Emily began to get worried about me for I simply moped around or was often in a brown study.’
      • ‘And, at one time, I got so much into the habit of rapping that I used to catch myself doing it involuntarily, as a man in a brown study may rap with his fingers.’
      • ‘There she lies close in shore; her skipper standing in her cockpit with arms akimbo, while he seems lost in a brown study.’
      • ‘We sat there for a few minutes in silence, Holmes obviously in a brown study and I not willing to disturb his brilliant mind while at work.’
      • ‘It hardly seems possible that a man could be so completely enveloped in a brown study that he would err in the matter of a wife and five children, but such was the case with Martin Luther.’
      • ‘The poor fellow was in a brown study for the next four hours.’
      • ‘The second movement, grave and poetic, is Brahms in a brown study.’
      • ‘After that awakening, I walked around in a brown study, trying to think of an appropriate response from us women.’
      • ‘At that time, Holmes had kept his distance, thinking in a brown study but never leaping to his feet with the quarry in his sights.’
      • ‘She murmured, and lost herself in a brown study.’
      lost in thought, lost in contemplation, in a reverie, thinking, reflecting, musing, pondering, contemplating, deliberating, ruminating, cogitating, dreaming, daydreaming
      miles away
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Phrasal Verbs

  • be browned off

    • Be irritated or depressed.

      ‘they're getting browned off with the overtime’
      • ‘Come next year the electorate will be browned off with both Kenny and Rabbitte moaning and will vote for the old reliables again.’
      • ‘He was browned off too - bored out of his mind in a garden pond swimming round the same cement gnome every day.’
      • ‘So they apparently were browned off with sunbathing and got starting to leave.’
      • ‘One was shot down and we were browned off to pick up the crew of that Junkers - they didn't like the idea of scrambling up the net and asked for ladders.’
      • ‘I always thought I played safe in that respect but I guess the censor was browned off or something, it's silly to take things to that extent.’
      • ‘The Colonel said that some of his men were browned off because there had been no opposition on the beaches.’
      • ‘Therefore it is very easy to see why supporters are hugely frustrated and very browned off.’
      • ‘Corporate Games is a ‘special venture’ for managers, the best clients and business partners that have been browned off with pattern thinking and endless hours of office work.’
      • ‘Well dear I suppose you'll be browned off with all that, but if you want to hear of more experiences let me know.’
      • ‘Instead, they were browned off with religion altogether, and only ever went to any church thereafter for a wedding or a funeral.’
      fed up, irritated, annoyed, exasperated, irked, put out, peeved, piqued, disgruntled
      discontented, discouraged, disheartened, depressed
      bored, weary, tired
      hacked off, cheesed off, brassed off, narked
      pissed off
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Old English brūn, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch bruin and German braun.