Definition of tawny in English:


adjectivetawnier, tawniest

  • Of an orange-brown or yellowish-brown colour.

    ‘tawny eyes’
    • ‘Following the Guardian story, readers have told us of their alleged sightings of a tawny brown, outsized cat around Leatherhead.’
    • ‘The moist tawny plumpness of the peaches, dabbled with thick but scratched crimson so that they look like frayed velvet, is further accentuated by the hard cracked shells of the walnuts alongside them on the tablecloth.’
    • ‘They deployed into the teeth of a furious dust storm that ended in thunder and rain and left tents flattened and Kuwait City covered in tawny dust and mud.’
    • ‘Sitting on the balustrade as well, but at the corner where he could lean against the wall, Impi's eyes were closed, his thick tawny mane catching the evening sunlight.’
    • ‘He will be black, not the tawny colour of the female with her beautiful long kookaburra-like, chevron-marked tail feathers.’
    • ‘In the first act, called ‘Big Sky,’ to music by Aaron Copland, ghosts of pioneers emerge from the spacious, tawny earth.’
    • ‘Urban areas and areas where growth will occur are shown in mauve, pink or tawny brown, depending on the map.’
    • ‘The males have great lionlike manes of tawny fur.’
    • ‘It suited him; the rich colour against his tawny hair.’
    • ‘This is where modern California was born, when 19 th-century gold seekers swarmed across these tawny hillsides seeking treasure.’
    • ‘The usual mustering scene shows tawny grass and anthills and a mob of red Brahmans moving slowly along, but over the page are stockmen with baseball caps and heavy shades.’
    • ‘In summer, the wapiti's coat is sleek and tawny brown, with a large buff-coloured rump patch.’
    • ‘Port that has been left to age in wooden casks for six or more years begins to take on a tawny colour and a soft, silky character as the phenolics are polymerized.’
    • ‘He couldn't believe she wasn't a local - her rich, dark brown hair and tawny skin could've fooled anyone.’
    • ‘I come up out of the low ground onto the highway and I'm imagining I see antelope at play - I can't help it, it's the wind moving the tawny wheat.’
    • ‘When little else is blooming, their cheery flowers of lavender, blue, pink, purple and white brighten the garden like colorful constellations against the tawny yellows and browns of autumn.’
    • ‘Chained underneath were two tawny pit bulls.’
    • ‘Lions vary in colour from nearly white to deep ochre brown but tawny yellow is the commonest shade.’
    • ‘However, instead of wavy tawny hair, his was straight and golden brown.’
    • ‘Instead of blue, her eyes were a deep, tawny brown that complemented her tanned skin.’
    hazel, chocolate-coloured, coffee-coloured, cocoa-coloured, nut-brown
    View synonyms


mass noun
  • An orange-brown or yellowish-brown colour.

    ‘pine needles turning from tawny to amber’
    • ‘He had hair so black there was a blue sheen to it, and his eyes were an odd, bright green with a flash of tawny in the center, his skin an even golden brown tan.’


Middle English: from Old French tane, from tan ‘tanbark’; related to tan.