adjective, pal·er, pal·est.

  1. (of a person or a person’s skin)
    1. light-colored or lacking in color: a pale complexion; his pale face; a pale child.
    2. lacking the usual intensity of color due to fear, illness, stress, etc.:She looked pale and unwell when we visited her in the nursing home.
  2. of a low degree of chroma, saturation, or purity; approaching white or gray: pale yellow.
  3. not bright or brilliant; dim: the pale moon.
  4. faint or feeble; lacking vigor: a pale protest.

verb (used without object), paled, pal·ing.

  1. to become pale: to pale at the sight of blood.
  2. to seem less important, remarkable, etc., especially when compared with something else: Platinum is so rare that even gold pales in comparison.

verb (used with object)

  1. to make pale.


  1. lacking brightness of colour; whitishpale morning light
  2. (of a colour) whitish; produced by a relatively small quantity of colouring agent
  3. dim or wanthe pale stars
  4. feeblea pale effort
  5. Southern African a euphemism for White


  1. to make or become pale or paler; blanch
  2. (intr often foll by before) to lose superiority or importance (in comparison to)her beauty paled before that of her hostess


  1. a wooden post or strip used as an upright member in a fence
  2. an enclosing barrier, esp a fence made of pales
  3. an area enclosed by a pale
  4. a sphere of activity within which certain restrictions are applied
  5. heraldry an ordinary consisting of a vertical stripe, usually in the centre of a shield
  6. beyond the pale outside the limits of social convention


  1. (tr) to enclose with pales

adj.early 14c., from Old French paile “pale, light-colored” (12c., Modern French pâle), from Latin pallidus “pale, pallid, wan, colorless,” from pallere “be pale, grow pale,” from PIE *pel- (2) “pale” (see pallor). Pale-face, supposed North American Indian word for “European,” is attested from 1822. n.early 13c. (c.1200 in Anglo-Latin), “stake, pole, stake for vines,” from Old French pal and directly from Latin palus “stake, prop, wooden post,” related to pangere “to fix or fasten” (see pact). From late 14c. as “fence of pointed stakes;” figurative sense of “limit, boundary, restriction” is from c.1400. Barely surviving in beyond the pale and similar phrases. Meaning “the part of Ireland under English rule” is from 1540s, via sense of “territory held by power of a nation or people” (mid-15c.). v.late 14c., “become pale; appear pale” (also, in Middle English, “to make pale”), from Old French paleir (12c.) or from pale (adj.). Related: Paled; paling. see beyond the pale.

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