Main definitions of pale in English

: pale1pale2



  • 1Light in color or having little color.

    ‘choose pale floral patterns for walls’
    • ‘Duncan just sat there with a strange look on his face while Alan and Patricia's faces turned a pale shade of green.’
    • ‘But she knew that in bright light, those eyes would turn such a gorgeous pale colour of green.’
    • ‘The underside should be pale green to light yellow, or just beginning to turn white.’
    • ‘The dark red fruits contain a pale green, sweet, and juicy pulp.’
    • ‘Little wonder almost all of them dabbled in different shades of pale green and blue.’
    • ‘I had never lived anywhere that had a rainy season and could not imagine that I would open my shoe closet one day to find all my shoes a fuzzy shade of pale green.’
    • ‘If you prefer lighter shades, pale blue and buff always look tremendous together.’
    • ‘Tess turned a pale shade of green and retreated, with Aurelia following behind.’
    • ‘The numbers on the clock flashed luminous green onto the pale shade of his bedside lamp.’
    • ‘Our house in Ireland was really nothing more then a cottage with white shingles on the pointed roof, the outer boards a pale shade of green.’
    • ‘Noted for its very high yield, the fruits are large and pale green.’
    • ‘Matt turned to Hannah, who was looking an unattractive shade of pale green.’
    • ‘She would arrive in her skimpy outfits, her eye lashes batting and her lips covered in a light shade of pale pink lip gloss.’
    • ‘The two enhancers increased pigment from pale orange to light red.’
    • ‘Apple Green is another highly productive plant with oval fruits of pale green and mild white flesh.’
    • ‘It was a pale green with different shades of blue beads around the top that brought out the color in my bluish-green eyes.’
    • ‘From the back pocket of her jeans, she takes a smooth polished stone, shades of pale green swirled inside it like ocean waves.’
    • ‘She peered at herself through the mirror in front of her bed, sighing in frustration as she saw her eyes were still the same annoying pale shade of green.’
    • ‘It was very dark inside, with pale neon green lights on the ceiling every couple of yards.’
    • ‘Because the colors overlap and blend, the effect works best with pastels or other pale shades.’
    light, light-coloured, pastel, neutral, light-toned, muted, subtle, soft, low-key, restrained
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    1. 1.1 (of a person's face or complexion) having less color than usual, typically as a result of shock, fear, or ill health.
      ‘she looked pale and drawn’
      • ‘She was pale skinned with some freckles and a pixie nose.’
      • ‘She could have easily passed for a corpse, complete with a sickly pale complexion and dark circles under blood-shot eyes.’
      • ‘The male is white, in his 20s, 5ft 4in tall, with fair hair and a pale complexion.’
      • ‘He was still pale and his skin was still smooth and soft like that of a woman's, but his features all together gave out a masculine appearance.’
      • ‘She is in shock, and her pale complexion is becoming more and more flecked with blood.’
      • ‘His skin was so pale Sara fancied she could see through it, and his single normal eye had become stained as dark as the obsidian one which sat in his other eye socket.’
      • ‘Although she was pale with fright and nauseous from the strain, Ava had to chuckle.’
      • ‘She was very pale, and the color of her hair made her skin look muddy.’
      • ‘Looking at her closer, he notes her sallow eyes and pale complexion.’
      • ‘In fact, his already pale complexion had drained of what colour it originally had, and his smile had vanished.’
      • ‘Even without the smeared white makeup she was pale, completely in contrast with his own darker features.’
      • ‘Young mothers who were pale with fear and shock held their children as close as they could to protect them from being hit by spit or missiles.’
      • ‘His pale complexion and ashen hair gave him an almost ghost-like appearance.’
      • ‘Unlike most red-heads he didn't have a single freckle, though he is quite pale with flawless skin.’
      • ‘Her tan skin offended the pale students around her, all but Codwell, who aggressively accepted her with a scoff at first.’
      • ‘He had a pale complexion a narrow face and thin lips.’
      • ‘He was clean shaven, with a pale complexion and drawn cheeks.’
      • ‘The attacker was slim with a very pale complexion.’
      • ‘He was so pale, and his skin felt like fire beneath her fingers.’
      • ‘If you're pale, even out the skin tone with mystic tan.’
      white, pallid, pasty, pasty-faced, wan, colourless, anaemic, bloodless, washed out, peaky, peakish, ashen, ashen-faced, ashy, chalky, chalk-white, grey, whitish, white-faced, whey-faced, waxen, waxy, blanched, drained, pinched, green, ghastly, sickly, sallow, as white as a sheet, as white as a ghost, deathly pale, cadaverous, corpse-like, looking as if one had seen a ghost
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  • 2Feeble and unimpressive.

    ‘unconvincing rock that came across as a pale imitation of Bruce Springsteen’
    • ‘Even the less worthy side of the public world seems like a pale imitation of its former self.’
    • ‘Even the unions are a pale imitation of what they used to be.’
    • ‘The irony is that if he had done the decent thing he may well have taken a hit in the polls, but it wouldn't have been as big as the hit he took by appearing to be a pale imitation of the Prime Minister.’
    • ‘Commercial garam masala uses cheaper spices and can taste like a pale imitation of the real thing.’
    • ‘In some situations, religious education may be a pale imitation of what it once was and much less confident than what it might be.’
    • ‘Most of the hunt officials I have spoken to concede that hunting in Scotland today is a pale imitation of the sport they once knew.’
    • ‘The harsh reality from a Mayo perspective was that the home team looked a pale imitation of what one could expect from a representative team.’
    • ‘If you can't be identified as a clearly alternative government, then you run the risk of appearing as a pale imitation of the current government.’
    • ‘Less virtuoso jazz than indulgent jam, the movie offers a pale imitation of intellectual engagement.’
    • ‘Now their team are a pale imitation of the great sides of the past, losing 4-1 in a friendly to Italy and with a hopeless manager at the helm.’
    • ‘The cabaret Maria took us to was a pale imitation of those scything performances of the 1970's and 80's.’
    • ‘Kilmarnock, with six experienced players missing, were a pale imitation of the side Jim Jefferies would have liked to have sent out at Parkhead.’
    • ‘The closest thing you can find is on university campuses, but even that is a pale imitation of its true roots.’
    • ‘But by and large, this campaign was a pale imitation of its immediate predecessor.’
    • ‘The modern conference season is a pale imitation of former glories.’
    • ‘The film feels a pale imitation of something that came long ago but isn't quite living up to its yesteryear aspirations.’
    • ‘Simply put, there is little in these songs which makes them seem anything more than a pale imitation of the styles they try to emulate.’
    • ‘While it will satisfy a chicken craving, the food is a pale imitation of fiery Jamaican fare and not as straightforward as your average rotisserie.’
    • ‘It doesn't matter that this year's finalists are a pale imitation of the class of '03.’
    • ‘They argue that pasteurised pub ciders are a pale imitation of the real deal from small, local producers up and down the country.’
    inferior, poor, feeble, weak, insipid, wishy-washy, vapid, bland, puny, flat, inadequate, ineffectual, ineffective, half-hearted
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  • 1Become pale in one's face from shock or fear.

    ‘I paled at the thought of what she might say’
    • ‘The man, bound hand and foot, paled, but gave no other sign he feared his fate.’
    • ‘Buddy's eyes grew wide, his face paled, and his ears flushed a deep, hot red.’
    • ‘Rachel actually paled, her chest tightening with a surprising torrent of fear as well as an emotion she could not recognize.’
    • ‘The more promiscuous of the mob paled noticeably.’
    • ‘His face paled, and his eyes went wide with shock.’
    • ‘Georgi Malenkov, in the chair, paled for fear that the other members would not instantly stand up to protest and demand that the request be denied.’
    • ‘Keith paled when he realized Ronnie had sent his note.’
    • ‘Sylvie's face has paled, she feels as if she's been struck, been wounded, though not by her daughter's abrupt departure.’
    • ‘Matt studied her silently, and it shocked me to see that she paled under his gaze.’
    • ‘What lay before her struck her like a dagger, causing her to pale with fear, even begin to sob silently.’
    • ‘I noticed how he paled and saw traces of fear in his eyes even if he masked them skillfully.’
    • ‘President Eisenhower was reported to have visibly paled on learning that the island of Elugelab was ‘missing’ following the explosion.’
    • ‘All of a sudden his face paled, as though some part of his being suddenly evaporated.’
    • ‘She didn't really mean this of course, but felt some satisfaction as it had the desired effect, and Zack paled in a combination of fear and anger.’
    • ‘She paled as they suddenly stopped, and I feared that she would faint, for it had to be hurting her as much as it was me, if not more.’
    • ‘The response was startling; Laine's face paled and her eyes widened somewhat in shock.’
    go white, turn white, become pale, grow pale, turn pale, blanch, blench, lose colour
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  • 2Seem less impressive or important.

    ‘all else pales by comparison’
    ‘his own problems paled into insignificance compared to the plight of this child’
    • ‘As much as he enjoyed his career, it paled into insignificance beside the love he felt for his family.’
    • ‘And just like that, five hours in line paled before thirty seconds of very genuine warmth from a man who, by the end of the night, had signed for a thousand people.’
    • ‘Hunting is important to me but it pales in comparison to family responsibility.’
    • ‘The behaviour of the army is shocking; but it pales compared to the behaviour of the settlers.’
    • ‘The recruit's ardor for the assignment instantly paled.’
    • ‘Even that paled alongside what happened in a Miami courtroom in July 1999.’
    • ‘It's a considerable sum but it pales into insignificance when you consider City recorded overall losses of more than £1.25 million in the same period.’
    • ‘Reputations have paled; foundations have trembled.’
    • ‘If a piece is too large or ostentatious, the rest of your garden could pale into insignificance, overshadowing all your previous months or years of hard work in an instant.’
    • ‘But, according to the teaching unions, even this pales into insignificance beside the problems of dealing with increasingly unruly pupils and, above all, a crippling workload.’
    • ‘It pales in comparison to the food advertisers.’
    • ‘Both of those paled into insignificance in comparison to episode three, though.’
    • ‘What had been a promising start soon paled for the Reivers, and when flanker Matt Taylor was taken off injured, the writing was on the wall.’
    • ‘The most bizarre thing is that this is somehow all balanced out by the baby giving us the merest hint of a smile, besides which our complaints pale into insignificance.’
    • ‘At the same time, fearing to pale in comparison, the printed media is giving extensive coverage to these topics of discussion.’
    • ‘However bad the economic picture, it pales into significance when viewed against the escalation of serious criminal activity in the country today.’
    • ‘But this pales when you consider the flying time you may have saved.’
    • ‘But whatever the economic impact of this agreement, it pales in significance to the likely social and environmental impacts.’
    • ‘But all of this pales into insignificance alongside the news that I am beginning to disintegrate.’
    • ‘He steals every scene, with his co-stars paling into insignificance.’
    decrease in importance, lose significance, pale into insignificance
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Middle English: from Old French pale, from Latin pallidus; the verb is from Old French palir.




Main definitions of pale in English

: pale1pale2



  • 1A wooden stake or post used as an upright along with others to form a fence.

    • ‘The fence would be a visual improvement to the existing chestnut pale fence and overgrown plants which currently exist.’
    • ‘To make it more secure push stones into the ground around the edge of the pale.’
    • ‘Get creative with a picket fence and have diagonal pales nailed to the horizontal boards.’
    • ‘The pale gate complements our pale fence panel, or alternatively it can be used in isolation in a hedge or brick built wall.’
    stake, post, pole, paling, picket, upright
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    1. 1.1 A conceptual boundary.
      ‘bring these things back within the pale of decency’
      • ‘It brought us within the pale of science but at a price: the tacit agreement that we never declare psi to have been proven.’
      • ‘In this island very few of the many important indigenous plants have ever been brought within the pale of cultivation.’
      • ‘I am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary!’
      • ‘Our views on these issues are not heretical and not unique to us, but are squarely within the pale of orthodoxy.’
      • ‘Any approach to human psychology which recognizes that the brain is the product of natural selection lies within the pale.’
      boundary, confines, bounds, limits
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  • 2historical An area within determined bounds, or subject to a particular jurisdiction.

    • ‘Indeed, St. Petersburg Jews were like their counterparts within the Pale, only, it. seems, more so.’
    • ‘The 3 major English Lords whose estates were within the Pale continued to exist, and formed alliances with the neighbouring Irish and became very powerful.’
    1. 2.1
      another term for English Pale
    2. 2.2 The areas of Russia to which Jewish residence was formerly restricted.
  • 3Heraldry
    A broad vertical stripe down the middle of a shield.

    • ‘A narrow pale is more likely if it is uncharged, that is, if it does not have other objects placed on it.’
    • ‘The pale is an ordinary, consisting of two perpendicular lines.’


  • beyond the pale

    • Outside the bounds of acceptable behavior.

      ‘the language my father used was beyond the pale’
      • ‘Piracy became and remained beyond the pale of legitimate state behavior.’
      • ‘The panic about the far right is less an objection to particular policies than a moral distaste for individuals and ideas deemed to be beyond the pale.’
      • ‘And telling other people, particularly in print, what you have not told the players themselves is pretty much beyond the pale.’
      • ‘A tragic necessity, perhaps - but it's not beyond the pale to ask whether it hurts more than it helps.’
      • ‘Paying for it would, of course, be beyond the pale.’
      • ‘I don't often like web sites that are flashy in any sense of th e word; and this one has music on it, which would normally put it completely beyond the pale.’
      • ‘That's not deceiving voters, that's just politics, but letting the voters know what they are voting for is beyond the pale.’
      • ‘Now I know I've been using my camera a lot since last Wednesday but for my own camera to tell me it's ‘exhausted’ is beyond the pale.’
      • ‘But second-best in the city of Milan proved beyond the pale.’
      • ‘It has helped establish a social norm in Britain, rendering the once acceptable racism of the 1970s beyond the pale today.’
      unacceptable, unseemly, Improper, indiscreet, unsuitable, irregular, unreasonable, intolerable, disgraceful, deplorable, outrageous, scandalous, shocking, insupportable, objectionable, offensive, distasteful
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  • in pale

    • Arranged vertically.

      • ‘This design is blazoned as ‘Gules, three lions passant guardant in pale Or,’ and it is still the coat of arms of England today.’
      • ‘It has three gold lions on a red background, walking with their heads turned to face out from the shield, or, in heraldic language ‘Gules, three lions passant guardant in pale Or.’’
      • ‘Two escutcheons are surcharged in pale.’
  • per pale

    • Divided by a vertical line.

      • ‘Two vested angels hold shields with the arms: Per pale, baron and femme.’
      • ‘It is interesting that Thomas Chaucer chose his maternal Roet arms over his paternal Chaucer arms, these being parti per pale, a bend over all.’
      • ‘The shield is party per pale half-way down.’


Middle English: from Old French pal, from Latin palus ‘stake’.