Definition of rainbow in English:

rainbow

noun

  • 1An arch of colours visible in the sky, caused by the refraction and dispersion of the sun's light by rain or other water droplets in the atmosphere. The colours of the rainbow are generally said to be red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.

    ‘all the colours of the rainbow’
    • ‘Their blossoms can be either single, double, or semi-double, and come in nearly every color of the rainbow except blue and green.’
    • ‘A mother's smile is like seeing a rainbow after it rains and the sun comes out.’
    • ‘As we leave Pisac and roll down the side of the gorge, the sun suddenly emerges and a brilliant rainbow lights up the verdant green Sacred Valley of the Incas.’
    • ‘You'll find every shade in the rainbow except blue, including gorgeous blends of two or more colors.’
    • ‘Mists from the falling water made rainbows all down the cliff.’
    • ‘You don't get rainbows without rain, after all.’
    • ‘But the reward was generous - a tremulous rainbow arched over the mountains, shaggy with greenery.’
    • ‘A rainbow arched its bridge of many colours across the evening sky, nature's magical wave of the wand.’
    • ‘You can find these roses in every color of the rainbow, except blue.’
    • ‘A brilliant rainbow formed a perfect arch on what was destined to be a great vista, where Lutyens' memorial arch [now called India Gate] stands.’
    • ‘The brightest rainbows occur when the raindrops are large, so by studying the rainbow, you can deduce whether the drops that are falling are large or small.’
    • ‘The receding rains also formed a rainbow spanning the sky and dipping into a village in the valley.’
    • ‘It was still grey and wet from raining earlier but she could see the red and orange from a dim rainbow across the mountain.’
    • ‘The spray - which can be felt half a mile away - creates a rainbow, arching over the whole width and shimmering in the sunlight.’
    • ‘Late-blooming clematis grew up the trellis, forming a wall of flowers in a rainbow's colours, feathery seed heads and green leaves, enclosing the patio.’
    • ‘Some trick of the angle, the light, and the nature of the liquid droplets in the atmosphere produced a rainbow that seemed to be shining entirely in the red end of the spectrum.’
    • ‘Is there a raindrops-per-cubic-inch threshold that's necessary for a rainbow to be visible?’
    • ‘All of a sudden, the sky cleared, became blue and a perfect rainbow arched over me with one end in the sand.’
    • ‘In some cases, light is reflected twice by each rain drop, forming a larger, fainter secondary rainbow outside the primary rainbow.’
    • ‘A rainbow arched over the far wing in between showers of rain and bursts of sunshine.’
    brightly coloured, bright-coloured, deep-coloured, brilliant, glowing, radiant, vivid, rich, vibrant
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A display of the colours of the spectrum produced by dispersion of light.
      • ‘Stained glass windows splayed sunlight in multicolored, non-sense rainbows over the rich Persian rugs thrown to either side of the ruby highway.’
      • ‘Large, clear-cut, crystalline windows shone in the late afternoon sun, casting colorful rainbows across the expansive lawn.’
      • ‘The light from the open window glinted off every angle and gave the appearance that the blade itself was shimmering as it sent rainbows of refracted light across the room.’
      • ‘The diamond was shining brilliantly in the sun, casting tiny rainbows on her fingers.’
      • ‘The light bounced off his light blonde hair and the three silver hoops in his ear in iridescent rainbows.’
      • ‘He paused, watching the rainbows of refracted light from it sparkle on the shelves and walls, an expression of almost reverent awe on his face.’
      • ‘The sole job of a spectroscope is to break light into a rainbow of its component colors.’
      • ‘The sunlight in the water splashed circles of rainbows on the rock walls, making it an absolutely beautiful place to doze in the afternoon.’
      • ‘Sunlight filtered through the water, creating the rainbows, and providing them with light.’
    2. 1.2 A wide range of related and typically colourful things.
      ‘a rainbow of medals decorated his chest’
      • ‘He will be back with a rainbow of programmes for this creative crowd.’
      • ‘Huge boulders covered with a rainbow of corals are back-dropped by dazzling white sand making the colours even more vibrant in contrast.’
      • ‘The streets of the town are packed with fabric shops; their shelves piled high with a rainbow of materials.’
      • ‘India has a rainbow of cultures spread out over 27 states and six territories.’
      • ‘The bright green shrubs and rainbows of flowers all looked the same after a while.’
      • ‘Their music was a rainbow of sounds and songs drawn from gamelan to pop, via jazz and Terry Riley's minimalism.’
      • ‘A cast of 10 will employ tricks and spells such as mime, dance, live music and puppetry, thus enchanting their audience with a rainbow of stories from around the world!’
      • ‘Following the path of the red Aids ribbon, Armstrong's band has spawned a rainbow of imitators.’
      • ‘There was a time when the better players had balls with a wide variety of pin positions, allowing a rainbow of reactions.’
      • ‘When we come out, our families have a rainbow of reactions.’
      • ‘Lining up in a rainbow of small, banana-shaped plastic boats, one by one we steered our kayaks across the angry stretch of open water.’
      • ‘Behind the asymmetric bars sat the gymnasts, a rainbow of tracksuits under a canopy of national flags.’
      • ‘He entered with a tray balanced on his hand, and when he looked up and saw us a rainbow of emotions crossed his face.’
      • ‘It's home to the more unusual sea apples - cucumbers that sprout a rainbow of filter-feeding arms - as well as colourful toxic sea urchins.’
      • ‘Their different reasons for forming these collections comprise a rainbow of motives as complex as a Navajo sand painting.’
      • ‘The Physical Activity Guide offers a rainbow of activities to choose from.’
      • ‘The natural health guru suggests trying to eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables each day to get the right variety of nutrients.’
      • ‘Bright colors created a rainbow of dresses and veils!’
      • ‘They were arranged by type and color, so just walking down the long pathways gave the viewers a rainbow of botanicals and a smell just as invigorating as the scenery.’
      • ‘His death at the age of 99 conjures up a rainbow of feelings.’
    3. 1.3as modifier Many-coloured.
      ‘a big rainbow packet of felt pens’
      • ‘Huge blocks of pale turquoise were set off by strips of lemon yellow hems or belts, and oversized rainbow stripes crisscrossed the body on dresses and shell tops.’
      • ‘Every day of my junior year, I wore a pair of rainbow suspenders, jeans rolled up to my knees, striped knee socks, and a newsboy cap.’
      • ‘The first time I went to Thailand, I got these rainbow beads.’
      • ‘In their diversity and variety, they encompass various coalescing and opposing interests and ideas to give them a many-coloured rainbow splendour.’
      • ‘A black cloth got transformed into rainbow hues, and the Tri-colour emerged from the pieces of cloth kept in a tin.’
      • ‘A hundred dancers, clothed in rainbow silks, celebrate Diwali in Blenheim palace.’
      • ‘Whether in a cup or a cone - single or double dip - and sprinkled with chocolate or rainbow jimmies, ice cream evokes happy memories.’
      • ‘She was wearing multicoloured jazzy pants and a slinky glittery rainbow top that exposed her entire back, a lot of her stomach and neck and was very risqué.’
      • ‘Your favorite ice cream flavor is cotton candy and you eat it with rainbow sprinkles.’
      • ‘Nowadays, we find golden berries, rainbow corn, and black carrots, varieties not commonly available before.’
      • ‘I dressed in black tank top and rainbow gypsy skirt.’
      • ‘Above it all floated a huge sparkling mirror ball, glistening as it rotated in the sun, spewing rainbow streaks across the implausible scene.’
      • ‘She sat across from the little girl at her kitchen table with a large plate of freshly chopped rainbow peppers sitting between them and ranch dressing to dip them in.’
      • ‘I really shouldn't have been surprised when I ended up at the ice cream parlor with Mom and my three scoops of rainbow sherbet in a sugar cone.’
      • ‘I saw my first puffins, a flock swimming in the sea, small birds with big triangular rainbow beaks that look as if they're held on with elastic, like clown noses.’
      • ‘Most striking is a work with tiny rainbow streaks at the top edge near the center, like a prismatic reflection, while almost all of the rest is black.’
      • ‘First, fill a standard coffee mug with 2 scoops of rainbow sherbet.’
      • ‘Someone had given Colin a huge bouquet of rainbow balloons, and there were so many that they blocked the three men from the view of the front seat and the side windows.’
      • ‘This season the store looks like the set of Austin Powers - all short skirts and rainbow dresses, along with simpler black and white versions.’
      • ‘With its amazing soundtrack and psychedelic rainbow visuals it captivates adults and kids alike.’

Phrases

  • at the end of the rainbow

    • Used to refer to something much sought after but impossible to attain.

      ‘the long-lost loving parent who waits at the end of every unhappy child's rainbow’
      • ‘Competitive balance is a worthy aim, but it may be a mere illusion, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.’
      • ‘They are still desperately chasing the feature film at the end of the rainbow.’
      • ‘We'll never find happiness by looking for it, any more than we'll find the crock of gold at the end of the rainbow by looking for it.’
      • ‘Then along came the high-technology stocks with their promise of gold at the end of the rainbow and pharmaceutical shares were cast aside like a pair of old boots.’
      • ‘The slip of paper inside the fortune cookie I got to choose on Thursday night read: ‘You will soon find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.’’
      • ‘Yet, they continue on with a program they might not enjoy, burnt out and stressed, because they see a light at the end of the rainbow that might not exist, but is still worth attempting to reach.’
      • ‘You could lose $100 million today because at the end of the rainbow, you were going to make a trillion.’
      • ‘Urban life is not a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for those who migrate.’
      • ‘Then I grew up and realized that not much has changed, only that now you're promised gold at the end of the rainbow if you work hard enough.’
      • ‘So one of the first things I had to deal with in coming here was the dot-com view of just doing an IPO and quickly seeing a big payday at the end of the rainbow.’
  • chase rainbows (or a rainbow)

    • Pursue an illusory goal.

      ‘I couldn't afford to waste petrol chasing rainbows as far as Leeds and back’
      • ‘I'd certainly understand if this purported surgery turns out to be some kind of Internet urban legend and I'm chasing rainbows, but I wanted to ask a doctor for whom I have respect.’
      • ‘The latest EU attack on chemicals is just chasing rainbows.’
      • ‘They make personal decisions, just as do many in other walks of life, to chase rainbows, so let them take the consequences, just like a student who must pass annual examinations of suffer the consequences.’
      • ‘You belong here by your son's side to help him get better, not off chasing rainbows.’
      • ‘By my teen years I mostly figured out that my dad sent me chasing rainbows because he knew I'd never find the ends.’
      • ‘Everyone chases rainbows and ignores the low hanging fruit.’
      • ‘It made me feel like a man who, chasing rainbows, has had one of them suddenly turn and bite him in the leg.’
      • ‘In these times when so many seem to spend their lives chasing rainbows, we can reflect on the great faith and fortitude of those who went before us.’
      • ‘If the presence of the man who produced rank commercial potboilers at the film festival was construed a mismatch by many, he insisted he was not there to chase rainbows.’
      • ‘It makes all the sense in the world for them to refocus where they're strong, rather than chase rainbows.’
      • ‘"They are wasting money on IT consultants chasing another technology rainbow.’

Origin

Old English regnboga (see rain, bow).

Pronunciation

rainbow

/ˈreɪnbəʊ/