Definition of colour in English:


(US color)


  • 1[mass noun] The property possessed by an object of producing different sensations on the eye as a result of the way it reflects or emits light.

    ‘the lights flickered and changed colour’
    • ‘But then, on the very edges of his peripheral vision, there was an intangible sensation of colour.’
    • ‘The abstract representations are also a reflection of the artist's mastery over colour and light.’
    • ‘But it was black in color instead of white, and it had black wings and emerald eyes.’
    • ‘It was black in colour due to the type of metal used.’
    • ‘The sun shone brightly in Bradford at the weekend as the Lord Mayor's carnival parade filled the streets with colour, fire and light.’
    • ‘These are clad in stainless-steel panels with a highly milled finish that absorbs light and colour more than it reflects them.’
    • ‘He did not disappoint us - the spectacular display of fire and colour, reflected in the harbour, was absolutely beyond words.’
    • ‘As for radishes, they vary in color from scarlet to black, purple, and white.’
    • ‘These are mind-boggling questions for a person of normal prudence because in science, colour is simply light of different wavelength.’
    • ‘The different tints of colour in her hair caught the sun and she looked the pure image of beauty.’
    • ‘Our eyes perceive different wavelengths of light as color, but this sense isn't very refined.’
    • ‘Three sensors are considered adequate because they are roughly equivalent to the way the human eye perceives colour using its three different types of cone receptor in the retina.’
    • ‘While we might think of Rubens in terms of exuberant light and colour, he was, not least, a talented draughtsman.’
    • ‘His once bright hazel eyes were now just round pools of color with no light reflecting in them.’
    hue, shade, tint, tone, tinge, cast, tincture
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    1. 1.1[count noun]One, 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 colour’
      ‘a range of bright colours’
      • ‘He has used the spectrum of colours in the rainbow effectively to create an atmosphere of calm.’
      • ‘The dress code forbids white clothing and bright colors.’
      • ‘But there is less detail and the colors are lighter and brighter.’
      • ‘They range in colours from black to lightest blonde with varying shades of ash, gold, beige, red-violet copper and auburn.’
      • ‘Celebrating his own birthday and braver than most, Jason offered to dye his hair any color for charity.’
      • ‘It was beautiful with all its many different colors and shades.’
      • ‘We next visited the island of Burano, where picture postcard houses line the canals in contrasting shades of pastel colours.’
      • ‘Dark or muted colors will make you look smaller, light or bright colors will make you look bigger.’
      • ‘Tracy then began to shun bright colours, wearing only black, sometimes lined with deep purple or very occasionally red.’
      • ‘The first step along this path was taken in 1664 when Isaac Newton used a prism to split sunlight into its constituent colors, the familiar rainbow.’
      • ‘The eatery's basic colours are black and white, creating a tranquil atmosphere that is most suitable for business lunches.’
      • ‘Bright colors created a rainbow of dresses and veils!’
      • ‘Verbena comes in a rainbow of bright colors.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Fluorescent lights and bright colors overstimulate their brains.’
      • ‘It was Newton who first realized that white light is made up of the colors of the rainbow, made visible through the prism.’
      • ‘In rural areas, many women and men wear long loose robes in either white or bright colors.’
      • ‘In her world, the colors were black, white, purple, red, or gray.’
      • ‘Even the men's area was filled with bright colors, devoid of blacks and brown and filled with reds, yellows, and greens.’
      • ‘I would advise against wearing bright colours or black.’
      • ‘The main colours are black and white broken by touches of yellow, grey and sky blue.’
    2. 1.2The use of all colours, not only black and white, in photography or television.
      ‘he has shot the whole film in colour’
      [as modifier] ‘colour television’
      • ‘Resolution in color television imagery is also based on principles of optical mixing.’
      • ‘Occasionally, the images may be in black and white rather than in colour.’
      • ‘Pictures can be black and white or in colour and should be mounted prints from adults and mounted or unmounted prints from children.’
      • ‘These were the first finals shown on television in colour.’
      • ‘However it was a show which also broke the rule that all programmes would be as comprehensible in black and white as in colour.’
      • ‘He compared the two scenarios to the difference between black and white and color television.’
      • ‘Watching the video clips I said to myself, surely these used to be in colour, not black and white?’
      • ‘The photographs of the various venues look so much better in colour, rather than the black and white renditions in the weekly newspaper.’
      • ‘The book, which features hundreds of colour photos, and plenty of history, runs to 160 pages.’
      • ‘A number of photographs, in colour and black and white, show the various facets of the process in great detail.’
      • ‘Both can print at a speed of 16 pages per minute in color or in black and white.’
      • ‘There are photos, in black and white and in color, of the event.’
      • ‘In case any artifact is found, it should be photographed in colour as well as in black and white.’
      • ‘Do I shoot this in colour or black and white?’
      • ‘State-of-the-art cameras are now smaller than a pack of cigarettes, and can transmit in color or black and white.’
      • ‘Shocking half-page pictures in colour and black and white underline the story throughout.’
      • ‘Entries can be in colour or black and white and must be prints not slides.’
      • ‘Although he took the photo in color, he converted it to black and white to increase the contrast and more closely resemble Weston's work.’
      • ‘The images from around the region would be in colour, rather than black and white.’
      • ‘There were three entries per category in colour prints, colour slides and black and white prints.’
      • ‘The photographs are mostly black and white, but a few are in colour.’
    3. 1.3Rosiness or redness of the face as an indication of health or of embarrassment, anger, etc.
      ‘there was some colour back in his face’
      ‘colour flooded her skin as she realized what he meant’
      • ‘There was a knock at her door and she sat up quickly, her cheeks flooding with color.’
      • ‘For a moment, there was an awkward silence, and color flooded Perrine's face.’
      • ‘She held his gaze, despite the colour that was flooding her cheeks.’
      • ‘She closed her eyes and felt the colour flood into her face.’
      • ‘Laurel smiled deeply and a healthy, warm color flooded her face.’
      • ‘Brooklynn's face flushed with color, mostly from shock, anger and jealousy.’
      • ‘Quinn wheezed with embarrassment as color rushed to her face.’
      • ‘Ellen's face flooded with color but her eyes remained calm and clear.’
      • ‘There's nothing like righteous anger to put color in your cheeks.’
      • ‘For some inexplicable reason, her cheeks flooded with colour.’
      • ‘Mrs Grimshaw's face began to flood with intense colour.’
      • ‘She nearly stumbled twice and felt her cheeks flood with color as the other passengers stared at her.’
      • ‘She looked up sharply, color flooding her face, turning it a lovely bright crimson, her blue eyes filled with worry as she waited for what was to come next.’
      • ‘I watched Daisy's cheeks flood with color, and she came slowly to my side.’
      • ‘Suddenly, his face floods with color and he looks down.’
      • ‘He gave her arm a nudge, causing another flood of color to her cheeks.’
      • ‘She looked down, colour once again flooding her face.’
      • ‘Karae's cheeks flooded with color and she quickly turned her eyes to the floor to hide both the blush and her shy smile.’
      • ‘She felt colour flood into her cheeks and she bowed her head.’
      • ‘Her heart pounded and color flooded her face at his appearance, replaced suddenly by a desire to cry on his shoulder.’
      redness, pinkness, rosiness, reddening, ruddiness, blush, flush, high colour, glow, bloom
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    4. 1.4A substance used to give something a particular colour.
      ‘lip colour’
      ‘as with any chemical treatment, colour can cause hair to become dry’
      • ‘For lip color in pots, remember to swipe the tops with a tissue occasionally to keep them clean.’
      • ‘Henna, the most widely used hair colour is one of the best conditioners too.’
      • ‘For lips, always use a pencil, but be sure to match it to your lip colour.’
      • ‘Megan helped Kate flare her skirt and fix her lip color.’
      • ‘I held most of the world's females in disregard, for even a hint of mascara or lip colour was enough to have me disrespectful of them.’
      • ‘I coated my lashes with three layers of black, glossy mascara and then finished my face with a dark mocha color on my lips.’
      • ‘The laboratory has about 19 primary colours of dye from which they can produce around 6000 different colours and shades.’
      • ‘Lips, she added, should be glossed or bordered by lip liner that closely matches the chosen lip colour.’
      • ‘It will give a good clean outline to the pencil, and help to hold the lip colour in place.’
      • ‘Fiona worked with Newcastle-based decorator Pete Ryan, who hand-mixed the colours to create the shades for each room.’
      • ‘She ran a brush through her hair and added a dash of color to her lips, and then shrugged at herself in the mirror.’
      • ‘The only rule to choosing lip color is this: make sure you like it.’
      • ‘She wore little in the way of make-up, save for a smear of liner and mascara on her eyes and a touch of color on her lips.’
      • ‘The color, which stains the skin and nails, lasts for several weeks.’
      • ‘The dyes are so sophisticated that they don't damage the hair, so women have the confidence to experiment with hair colour just as they do with make-up and beauty treatments.’
      • ‘Sitting restlessly I allowed my women to apply a layer of kohl about my eyes and a touch of coral color to my lips.’
      paint, pigment, colourant, coloration, dye, stain, tint, wash
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    5. 1.5Heraldry [count noun]Any of the major conventional colours used in coats of arms (gules, vert, sable, azure, purpure), especially as opposed to the metals, furs, and stains.
      • ‘Our basic rule is, that you cannot have colour on colour or metal upon metal, therefore, almost all arms you will come across will be made up of charges that are either metal on colour or colour on metal.’
      • ‘Colour may not be placed on colour, nor may metal on metal.’
      • ‘The wreath is six twists, metal alternating with colour.’
      • ‘The first and second floor fronts would have panels in terracotta red, and the Coat of Arms would be in heraldic colours.’
    6. 1.6Billiards [count noun]Any of the balls other than the white cue ball and the reds.
      ‘Hendry potted the last four colours to win 5–4’
      • ‘At 11-9 up, Richardson missed a great chance and Clarke won a colours duel to cut the gap to 11-10.’
      • ‘Simons takes a lead in the frame but Callow fights back and the pair tussle over the colours.’
      • ‘The pair then picked off the colours and gained four points from a foul to win the game 50-41.’
      • ‘Another tactical battle goes to the final colours and it is Hendry who crosses the winning line by potting the blue.’
      • ‘After a 52 break and with two reds left, Hammond pots the white then Carling clears up the colours to win.’
  • 2[mass noun] Pigmentation of the skin, especially as an indication of someone's race.

    ‘discrimination on the basis of colour’
    • ‘It shows we are all part of one family, no matter what colour skin we have.’
    • ‘Her eyes were of the deepest brown and her skin an olive colour.’
    • ‘State law prohibits discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin or disability.’
    • ‘We should really endeavour not to judge an individual simply on the basis of skin colour.’
    • ‘Schooling should be based on ability, not colour or race.’
    • ‘Is discriminating on the grounds of sex more acceptable than discriminating on the basis of skin colour?’
    • ‘The realisation that I had unconsciously begun to mistrust people on the basis of their skin colour sickened me.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Why don't you travel around a bit, meet some people, maybe talk to someone whose skin is a different color than yours?’
    • ‘I believe that fear affects humans in the same way, regardless of race, colour, religion or origin.’
    • ‘Lately, it has become harder to imagine a world where people, regardless of colour, creed or race are shown the same respect.’
    • ‘When will the world ever be able to put this issue of skin colour and race to rest?’
    • ‘Its notion of community is open to all, without any discrimination on the basis of race, region, colour, or ethnicity.’
    • ‘It does not discriminate on the ground of race, religion, colour or ethnicity.’
    • ‘You should be proud of your skin color no matter what race you are.’
    • ‘People recognized as white by other folk often don't notice the silent privileges we're given simply by virtue of our skin color.’
    • ‘It's to do with race and religion and color and creed and sexuality.’
    • ‘That is fine but there must also be equality for everybody regardless of their colour, race, gender, sexuality, and that seems to be missing now.’
    • ‘She had black hair down to her waist and her skin had a bronze color to it.’
    • ‘It stipulates that any discrimination on the grounds of race, colour, national or ethnic origin is unlawful.’
    skin colour, skin colouring, skin tone, complexion, colouring, pigmentation
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    1. 2.1[count noun]A group of people considered as being distinguished by skin pigmentation.
      ‘all colours and nationalities’
      • ‘We are men and women, rich and poor, black and white, and all colors of the human rainbow.’
      • ‘To many, it means students of all colors and backgrounds will populate our nations' universities in harmony.’
      • ‘Two images of women of color appeared much later in the booklet, shown only once, and linked to themes of housework and childcare.’
      • ‘We have to respect the open and free society that Europe has developed and respect all citizens of all nations, religions and colors.’
  • 3[mass noun] Vivid appearance resulting from the juxtaposition of many bright things.

    ‘for colour, plant groups of winter-flowering pansies’
    • ‘These make ideal portable plants providing a fragrant perfume and vivid colour in early to mid-summer.’
    • ‘Ready with her Fall-Winter collection, this designer has used a bright palette to add colour to the dull season.’
    • ‘But when the sun breaks through, they burst into a kaleidoscope of vivid colour.’
    • ‘A month or so ago I called at a nursery in Stroud to buy a few primulas to give the garden pockets of bright colour.’
    • ‘Beetroot is also great for making soup and can be sliced, diced or grated to add vivid colour to salads.’
    • ‘Every splash of bright colour has gone back into a drawer not to be glimpsed again until next spring.’
    • ‘Busy Lizzies are good in shade where they will spread out and give a patch of bright colour until the first frosts.’
    • ‘The autumn weather has been wonderfully kind to us this year and gardens are still full of colour despite being well into October.’
    • ‘Roses are beginning to bloom, delphiniums are tall and lupins dot the beds with their spikes of bright colour.’
    • ‘It is a visual feast of the highest quality, the vibrant colour of the crowd scenes contrasting with the breath-taking beauty of the mountains.’
    • ‘Soft pastels, worn underneath jackets or blazers, will be popular, along with cream, and teamed with flashes of bright colour.’
    • ‘The images are striking because of their simplicity and the vivid patches of colour on them.’
    • ‘Those bright patches of colour certainly stand out from the dismal grounds of the estate.’
    • ‘And not to be missed are the grasses and wild plants which lend splashes of colour to the ditches and roadsides.’
    • ‘I have enjoyed painting in vivid colour for years now - the colours work on the psyche.’
    • ‘When other flowers are dying off, crocosmias add a splash of vivid colour.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘His garden is a vivid display of summer colour and George delights in having the time to enjoy it.’
    • ‘The Thames, its bridges and the Palace of Westminster dominate scenes that pulsate with bright colour.’
    • ‘Don't worry that this is too much: the shrub will recover quickly and produce lots of stems during the next few months to provide plenty of bright colour for a winter bed.’
    • ‘The paddling pool was re-built incorporating figurative features and lots of bright colour.’
    • ‘The vibrant costumes and scenery gave bright splashes of cartoonish colour to the scenes and the props were superb.’
    • ‘The only vivid colour was in the bays where waterlilies flowered.’
    1. 3.1Features that lend a particularly interesting quality to something.
      ‘a town full of colour and character’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Her latest thriller is full of life, colour and character.’
      • ‘This is a wonderful book, full of richness and colour - a celebration of many people's achievements.’
      • ‘My film would be full of colour and excitement because I think that's what living in Britain is like most of the time.’
      • ‘He writes as he talks and the book is excellent, full of colour and life.’
      • ‘Good conversation features colloquialisms, colour and the natural rhythm of speech.’
      • ‘A cascade of novels and films featuring the colour and spice of the country has made its way onto bookshelves and into movie houses.’
      • ‘It was a fantastic day, full of life and colour and excitement, and New Zealand had two athletes on the dais.’
      • ‘The street market provides colour and interest and adds to the character of the town.’
      • ‘Are our lives so full of colour and drama that we must set out to make them greyer and more boring?’
      vividness, life, liveliness, vivacity, vitality, animation, excitement, interest, fascination, richness, zest, verve, spice, spiciness, bite, piquancy, sparkle, impact, vigour, vigorousness, force, forcefulness, point
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    2. 3.2Variety of musical tone or expression.
      ‘orchestral colour’
      • ‘A bit more variety of vocal color would have been welcome, but let's not quibble.’
      • ‘Magnard himself was a natural contrapuntist, often seeming wilfully to shun the blandishments of orchestral colour.’
      • ‘Her sensitive and expressive playing lacked colour and projection in the live concert situation.’
      • ‘Some unusual instruments are also included in the ensemble for comical colour, such as the French accordion.’
      • ‘In most scores, percussion provides accent and color, while other instruments carry on the main musical matter.’
      • ‘Played on a pianola the music sounds distorted and lacks the orchestral colour that the ear expects.’
      • ‘There is a less noticeable jazz presence here, and less color in both the music and in the scoring.’
      • ‘First and foremost, all work should consider the musical elements of tone, color, dynamics and phrasing.’
      • ‘In particular, the use of a wide range of percussion adds an immense amount of varied instrumental color to what is otherwise a very small ensemble.’
      • ‘I use harmonics for effect, colour and poignancy as well as their ethereal tone texture.’
      • ‘The surging waves of orchestral sound, radiant pianissimos and brilliant flashes of color were awesome!’
      • ‘Fanfares were one thing, but composers needed instruments that could provide colour as well as tone.’
      • ‘Fricsay makes the rhythms snap, and once again his control over orchestral color is exemplary.’
      • ‘The score also shows off the composer's skill at manipulating orchestral color.’
      • ‘Music with depth and variety of color can be interpreted in more than one way and I'd love to hear what the Dallas Orchestra might do with it.’
      • ‘All of the orchestral color and variety of the original has been encapsulated in his version.’
      • ‘Henze's settings are rich in orchestral colour and character.’
      • ‘I don't know how he managed it, but he suggests much of the original orchestral color with these reduced forces.’
      • ‘Without a clear melody, color becomes the paramount musical element.’
      • ‘The instrumental color, finely crafted elegance, and glowing sweep of the music were exhilarating.’
      tone, sound, sound quality, voice, voice quality, tone colour, tonality, resonance, ring
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  • 4An item or items of a particular colour worn to identify or distinguish an individual or a member of a group, in particular a jockey or a member of a sports team.

    ‘it was Devon Loch's first victory in the colours of his royal owner’
    ‘it will be strange running on to the pitch in another team's colours’
    • ‘Similar findings emerged from a study of football teams wearing different colours in different matches.’
    • ‘Bromley was famed for his meticulous preparation, producing his own racecard detailing the jockeys' colours and other key details.’
    • ‘She was a gifted athlete who was on the verge, they say, of wearing the national colours in a second sport.’
    • ‘It may also be the last time they have an opportunity to watch the Spaniard in their team's colours, for there is mounting speculation he will be sold in the summer.’
    • ‘The crowd then briskly moves to the trackside to watch the start and follow the colours of their jockey around the circuit to the finish line.’
    • ‘Hundreds also watched the sporting action on giant screens in Exchange Square and Piccadilly Gardens, with many wearing the team colours of their country.’
    • ‘Unfortunately both teams wore very similar colours which caused confusion among players and spectators alike especially under the lights.’
    • ‘The first Racing Calendar was introduced in 1773 and stud books and jockeys' colours followed.’
    • ‘Only the team colours differ, however, as both clubs have adopted a similar game plan for luring punts from the pockets of their fans.’
    • ‘Twelve months later and he is getting ready to sport the green colours of Ireland in the national team.’
    • ‘Argentina's champions are sponsoring the vehicles that will carry the club's blue and yellow shield on their roofs and doors, while the drivers will wear the team colours.’
    • ‘Obviously, we were already in teams dressed in our rather hideous team colours, so after breakfast and a short rest, we began to play soccer.’
    • ‘They have more in common with the Waterford hurlers than the fact that they both sport the colours blue and white.’
    • ‘Meanwhile there was need for the national soccer team to have national colours whenever they competed in international games.’
    • ‘As today, all the jockeys wore their colours - a racing jersey that identified that rider to the crowd.’
    • ‘He refused and told the team to change their colours.’
    • ‘The fact that he has been allowed to appear in team colours will raise Formula One's profile in China.’
    • ‘Most owners dream of having a horse running in the Grand National in their colours.’
    • ‘When the teams last met in the championship last year both teams wore their traditional colours of predominantly green.’
    • ‘Are teams whose home strip is red more likely to win/stay up than teams in other colours?’
    clothes, clothing, rig, outfit, dress, costume, garments, attire, garb
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    1. 4.1A badge, cap, or other item in the distinctive colours of a particular school, awarded to a pupil selected to represent the school in a sport.
      • ‘H Brown was awarded his school colours for rugby.’
      • ‘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.’
      strip, kit, uniform, costume, livery, insignia, regalia
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    2. 4.2British The flag of a country, or of a regiment or ship.
      ‘all over the world countries which had long been administered by others were hoisting their own colours’
      ‘the Cheshire Regiment celebrated its tercentenary with a tattoo and the presentation of the new colours’
      • ‘Flags and Slovenian colours are sweeping the town, and shop windows are being painted.’
      • ‘He wondered what they thought of a ship flying British colours, fleeing.’
      • ‘From what I've seen, this country identifies more with its flag and its colours than any other.’
      • ‘Why was a ship flying British colors firing on them?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      flag, standard, banner, pennant, pennon, streamer, ensign, banderole
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  • 5A shade of meaning.

    ‘many events in her past had taken on a different colour’
    • ‘She tells an engaging contemporary tale in all its colors, nuances and shades.’
    • ‘After all, it is about the colours and shades of life.’
  • 6Physics
    [mass noun] A quantized property of quarks which can take three values (designated blue, green, and red) for each flavour.

    • ‘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.’


  • 1[with object] Change the colour of (something) by painting, dyeing, or shading it.

    ‘he coloured her hair with a selection of blonde and brown shades’
    • ‘He's trying to convince me to allow him to colour my hair next time, but wouldn't that double the price?’
    • ‘But we poor deluded souls keep colouring our hair in the wildest and most atrocious colours possible.’
    • ‘By the way, wasn't it obvious that Ray didn't have his hairdresser with him to colour his greying hair?’
    • ‘Ancient and primitive tribes used these plants, often combined with different earths, to colour and decorate their faces and bodies.’
    • ‘If you throw a real grenade, most of the time it takes some of the wall with it, but a paint grenade will only color the wall.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Divide into four or five smaller bowls and color each with different food coloring.’
    • ‘Blood poured out, colouring his pale skin bright scarlet.’
    • ‘They both decided to colour their hair for charity.’
    • ‘We color our hair and clothes; paint our nails, anything to manifest our individuality.’
    • ‘And as it was a non-uniform day, many took the opportunity to colour their hair in shades of green and red.’
    • ‘As and when an idea flashes, this unusual painter apparently colours his lips and then smacks it on the paper.’
    • ‘Last Sunday was officially declared a day of no rest in Ballinrobe, as local painters and decorators coloured the town in maroon and yellow.’
    • ‘The sun burned on her back and on the straw hat she had put on, and a smear of dirt colored one of her cheeks.’
    • ‘My hair dresser says if I colour it there will be more body.’
    • ‘I also got my hair coloured this week.’
    • ‘Then came the easy part of colouring his hair and coming up with a unique body language for the character.’
    • ‘For centuries, the Maori had traditionally colored their carvings with paint that did not dry.’
    tint, dye, tinge, shade, pigment, stain, colour-wash, colour in, paint
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    1. 1.1[no object]Take on a different colour.
      ‘the foliage will not colour well if the soil is too rich’
      • ‘It has a rich and unique fragrance when made and colours with age.’
      • ‘As the clear lens slowly colours with age, your vision gradually may acquire a brownish shade.’
      • ‘The two pieces of filling were put in at different times, he explains, and have coloured differently.’
      • ‘While the bird is colouring in the butter you can peel the garlic, trim and cut the celery into short lengths.’
    2. 1.2Fill (a shape or outline) with colour.
      ‘he hated finger-painting and colouring in pictures’
      • ‘Instead of wasting time colouring in logos in black you could be doing volunteer work.’
      • ‘Down the back of the class, where some of us were colouring in pictures in the National Enquirer, it seemed horribly unfair.’
      • ‘She sat in her room and was coloring a rather savage drawing of her stabbing her sister over and over again with a dagger.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘There will not only be interesting stories on the agenda but also some time set aside for colouring in.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘If he coloured the two figures in, he did a good job.’
      • ‘Then once you have decided to start revising, don't just sit there until the day of your first exam colouring in revision timetables when you haven't actually done any revising, get on with it.’
      • ‘He has printed out his latest graph in black and white and is contentedly preoccupied with colouring in the pieces of pie by hand.’
      • ‘Instead they spend forever coloring in maps and flags and learning the official languages and exports of countries around the world.’
      • ‘But we aren't going to spend the whole lesson colouring in.’
      • ‘As Benjamin sat down with a few crayons and several markers, he glanced at Rebecca who was coloring her Ohio picture.’
      • ‘We celebrated diversity by colouring in Union Jacks on Commonwealth Day.’
      • ‘The coloring book was well loved and came with plenty of different pictures to color.’
      • ‘Half of the 47 lessons observed were deemed unsatisfactory or poor and some teachers were found to have low expectations of pupils, giving them undemanding tasks such as colouring in.’
      • ‘Hannah, ten, is colouring in a picture marked with French words with her friend Sarah, also ten, at one of the school's new lunchtime learning sessions.’
      • ‘I suggest that they make their colors bright by first stroking horizontally and then coloring over the same shape again with vertical strokes.’
      • ‘Maybe some children find a use for it, colouring in the pictures.’
      • ‘She was working on a new quilt pattern, and coloring in the various shapes she had sketched out.’
      • ‘She exchanged the crayon in her hand for a slightly different shade and began coloring again.’
      • ‘The rule for colouring in a map is that any two regions which share a border must be filled in using different colours.’
    3. 1.3Make vivid or picturesque.
      ‘he has coloured 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.

    ‘she coloured slightly’
    • ‘Michelle coloured slightly and turned back to her book.’
    • ‘She colored slightly in embarrassment, finally realizing just how close her new acquaintance was to her.’
    • ‘Adam spotted Adriana and walked over to her, his cheeks coloring a little.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Judith colored slightly from both embarrassment and anger.’
    • ‘Mary coloured in response, seeming both surprised and pleased.’
    • ‘Lisa colored prettily, showing a true emotion that she couldn't conceal.’
    blush, redden, go pink, go red, turn crimson, turn red, turn scarlet, flush, crimson
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1[with object]Cause (a person's skin) to change in colour.
      ‘rage coloured his pale complexion’
      • ‘Caleb shook his head, amusement coloring his cheeks a pale pink.’
      • ‘Despite the warmth threatening to color my cheeks I crossed my arms and stubbornly turned away.’
      • ‘Parie gasped, embarrassment and outrage colouring her face.’
      • ‘He clutched at the light coverlet, pulling it with him as he sat up, a flush coloring his skin.’
      • ‘A deep flush spread up Rita's face and colored her pale skin an unflattering red.’
      • ‘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. 2.2[with object](of an emotion) imbue (a person's voice) with a particular tone.
      ‘surprise coloured her voice’
      • ‘Remembered sorrow colored his tone, making it seem harsher than it was meant to be.’
      • ‘Tim clapped her on the shoulder, pride coloring his voice.’
      • ‘Judith couldn't help the trace of anger that colored her voice.’
      • ‘‘How about I lead you back to your headquarters?’ he suggested blandly, no hint of enthusiasm coloring his voice.’
      • ‘‘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.’
      • ‘Guests gone, she allowed her own anger to color her voice.’
      • ‘Thomas actually spoke with his soft-toned voice colored in worry.’
      • ‘Katy did not entirely succeed in keeping her disappointment from coloring her voice.’
  • 3[with object] Influence, especially in a negative way; distort.

    ‘the experiences had coloured her whole existence’
    • ‘And the more a movie is talked about, the more the response to it is going to be colored and even tainted, I think, by that talk.’
    • ‘Many of these enquiries were based on anecdotal evidence and coloured by popular prejudices.’
    • ‘Her determination to put something back is coloured by her own experience.’
    • ‘What they see is coloured by their previous experiences.’
    • ‘This pessimism towards attempts at social change colored all of his writings.’
    • ‘My experience of what I read here is also coloured by knowing several contributors.’
    • ‘We talk a little bit about the ways in which her rather bleak view of the world has been coloured by her first-hand experiences of mortality.’
    • ‘I have no doubt that her views have been coloured and sharpened by her father's hostility.’
    • ‘In England, elements of the style turned up, but coloured by entirely different ideas about what a house and a community should be like.’
    • ‘Every relationship here is colored by the influence of these intoxicants, and every aspect of every relationship.’
    • ‘He was nineteen when his mother died in 1821 and his boyhood experiences would colour his whole prodigious output of novels, poetry and plays.’
    • ‘But far from a happy trip down memory lane, her memories of Ventry are coloured by sadness and tragedy.’
    • ‘Their view of the past is strongly coloured by their conversion experience.’
    • ‘But my thoughts were coloured by emotion at the time; I just wasn't being logical.’
    • ‘My own guess is that my former colleague's now jaundiced view has been colored by overexposure to certain influences.’
    • ‘In Smith's film, homophobia colours almost everything.’
    • ‘I don't mention it often, because I don't want it to colour the way people read everything I write, or change the way that people talk to me, which it often can.’
    • ‘Our ideas about past life on the Western Isles have been coloured by these contemporary experiences.’
    influence, affect, slant, taint, pervert, warp, twist, skew, distort, bias, prejudice, poison
    View synonyms
    1. 3.1Misrepresent by distortion or exaggeration.
      ‘witnesses might colour evidence to make a story saleable’
      • ‘Soon, the emotions begin to color and crowd out the actual facts of the situation.’
      • ‘The account may well be colored by her desire to go to America.’
      • ‘Definitions of words like pension, oats, politics, Whig and Tory were coloured by personal prejudice.’
      • ‘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.’
      exaggerate, overstate, overdraw, overdo, embroider, embellish, dramatize, enhance, varnish
      View synonyms


  • lend (or give) colour to

    • Make something seem true or probable.

      ‘this lent colour and credibility to his defence’
      • ‘This helped to explain what would otherwise have been inexplicable, and hence lent colour to her evidence about the state of her belief.’
      • ‘His high cylindrical crown, triple-wound knotted girdle and long, thin nose lend colour to the suggestion that they were of Iranian origin.’
      • ‘The rule of a such a prime minister will always give colour to the image of the prime minister as all-powerful.’
      • ‘The timing of his remarks appears to lend color to the interpretation that his move was reactive rather than proactive.’
  • sail under false colours

    • Disguise one's true nature or intentions.

      ‘he felt the waiters could see that in his cashmere tweed jacket he is sailing under false colours’
      • ‘I commented upon the fact that you are not Irish and as such are sailing under false colours.’
      • ‘So he's sailing under false colours - he's a theologian, not a sociologist.’
      • ‘Their feeling of connectedness was so strong that Mimi felt an urge to tell her new friend that she too was sailing under false colours, but she feared to reveal this fact so early in their acquaintance.’
  • show one's true colours

    • Reveal one's real character or intentions, especially when these are disreputable or dishonourable.

      ‘she was only too anxious to get out of the room now that her employer had shown his true colours’
      • ‘Here is the current President of the United States showing his true colours.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In some ways it's a real blessing that Bill showed his true colors relatively early in our relationship.’
      • ‘However Burren showed their true colours and managed to beat Mayobridge by six points.’
      • ‘There is effective suspense, sure, but the villains are clearly defined, and any ambiguous characters immediately show their true colors.’
      • ‘For me, he showed his true colours when he refused to step down from the Labour Party.’
      • ‘Unexpectedly friendly at first, he soon starts to show his true colours as a loud-mouthed bully with psychopathic tendencies.’
      • ‘When he tried to overthrow the democratically elected government in 1992, he showed his true colors.’
      • ‘Often, they pretend to be friendly at first before showing their true colours by playing a malicious trick.’
      • ‘It was as if he was showing his true colours to my mum.’
  • under colour of

    • Under the pretext of.

      ‘under colour of writing the history of the East Frankish kingdom, he has dealt as much with the history of Italy’
      • ‘His suit was filed under section 1983, a federal statute that gives a remedy for the deprivation of constitutional rights by officials acting under color of state law.’
      • ‘Being a ganja-smoker himself Ananda Kali may also have thought that by introducing the worship he would be able to save the ganja-smokers from disrepute, as then ganja could be consumed in the name of a god and under colour of doing a religious or pious act.’
      • ‘What have you done besides taking our liberties, stealing our money under colour of law and protecting and supporting the agenda of the internationalists?’
      • ‘This is because, outside his jurisdiction, he is no longer ‘acting under color of law’ as an officer of that department if he gets involved in an off-duty shooting.’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘The door towards accountability for human rights criminals acting under color of government authority opens a little wider on June 10.’
      • ‘But the devil comes with his artful wiles, and, under colour of doing good, sets about undermining it in trivial ways, and involving it in practices which, so he gives it to understand, are not wrong.’
      • ‘There, the court held that a paramilitary commander was acting under color of the law of the former Yugoslavia when he committed mass atrocities.’
      • ‘He's also alleged to have molested adolescent boys over the last 25 years under color of his authority as a sheriff's deputy and Boy Scout leader.’
      • ‘Assault under color of authority means that, as a police officer, they've committed an assault.’
      • ‘Furthermore, federal law provides that any person may sue for damages if another person, acting under color of state law, interferes with his constitutional rights.’
      the pretext, the cloak, the mask, the pretence, the outward appearance, the guise, a false show, a show, a front, a facade, a semblance
      View synonyms
  • with flying colours

    • With distinction.

      ‘Sylvia had passed her exams with flying colours’
      • ‘He took the exam, came out with flying colours and joined the service in 1991.’
      • ‘In 1911, at his father's insistence, he sat the diplomatic service exams, passing with flying colours.’
      • ‘Is it success to pass a graduation exam with flying colors only to forget the whole thing in 2-3 years' time?’
      • ‘I'm sure she'll navigate the negative backlash with flying colors.’
      • ‘Every single one of you passed your final exam with flying colors.’
      • ‘After seven days on flat roads this was a sudden and violent examination of heart as much as stamina and it was a test that Lance Armstrong would pass with flying colours.’
      • ‘On the basis that there are few better guides to a restaurant's quality than how it cooks its steaks, the Howgate passed with flying colours.’
      • ‘Michael told me that he was sure I would pass all my exams with flying colors.’
      • ‘If that's the biggest criticism a dedicated nit-picker can deliver, then the restaurant has passed with flying colours.’
      • ‘They had some big decisions to make this year, and came through with flying colors.’


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