Definition of kohl in US English:



  • A black powder, usually antimony sulfide or lead sulfide, used as eye makeup especially in Eastern countries.

    • ‘When they threw off their veils, we saw the kohl, lipstick, rouge and nail polish that the women wore.’
    • ‘She stood in front of the mirror and applied mascara and kohl to her eyes, blinking a few times.’
    • ‘My eyes were decorated with kohl, eyeliner and a touch of mascara.’
    • ‘For one thing she was wearing rouge on her cheeks and kohl about her eyes.’
    • ‘He turned around to see me with kohl and mascara running down my cheeks.’
    • ‘I mean this girl had no makeup on except some lovely kohl around her eyes, and she was just so mesmerizing.’
    • ‘I only ever wore kohl, and a little ochre on my lips for banquets, although I did question the point in this, as it was usually rubbed away by the food.’
    • ‘Green eye shadow accented the dark lines of kohl around my eyes; red ochre was delicately laid on my cheeks.’
    • ‘I lined my eyes in thick black kohl, wore black nail polish and baggy clothes.’
    • ‘His aged and pale face was painted white, his eyes lined with kohl.’
    • ‘Sitting restlessly I allowed my women to apply a layer of kohl about my eyes and a touch of coral color to my lips before dismissing myself to find my father.’
    • ‘She made her eyes look smoky with kohl and purple shades.’
    • ‘Her mom had really done a number on her eyes, outlining them in dark kohl, then adding some coppery, glittery eye shadow.’
    • ‘She had lined her slanted hazel brown eyes with kohl.’
    • ‘Historically, women have used lead, mercury, lemon juice, egg whites, milk, vinegar, kohl, and dye to enhance their facial features.’
    • ‘His chocolate eyes were lined heavily with black kohl.’
    • ‘This black powder, called kohl, is usually made from antimony ground to an extreme fineness.’
    • ‘He was dressed in a green turban and a blanket, and his dark eyes almost seemed streaked with kohl.’
    • ‘Green kohl stretched to my eyebrows, and black galena acted as eyeliner.’
    • ‘They accentuate their eyes with kohl, while they apply henna to make detailed designs on palms of their hands and sometimes the soles of their feet.’
    cosmetics, greasepaint
    View synonyms


Late 18th century: from Arabic kuḥl.