• IPA: /peɪl/, enPR: pāl
    • IPA: [pʰeɪ̯ɫ], [pʰeəɫ]
  • (America)

pale (comparative paler, superlative palest)

  1. Light in color.
    I have pale yellow wallpaper.
    She had pale skin because she didn't get much sunlight.
    • 1907, Robert William Chambers, chapter IX, in The Younger Set, New York, N.Y.: D. Appleton & Company, OCLC 24962326 ↗:
      “Heavens!” exclaimed Nina, “the blue-stocking and the fogy!—and yours are pale blue, Eileen!—you’re about as self-conscious as Drina—slumping there with your hair tumbling à la Mérode! Oh, it's very picturesque, of course, but a straight spine and good grooming is better. […]”
  2. (of human skin) Having a pallor (a light color, especially due to sickness, shock, fright etc.).
    His face turned pale after hearing about his mother's death.
  3. Feeble, faint.
    He is but a pale shadow of his former self.
Synonyms Translations Translations Verb

pale (pales, present participle paling; past and past participle paled)

  1. (intransitive) To turn pale; to lose colour.
  2. (intransitive) To become insignificant.
    • 12 July 2012, Sam Adams, AV Club Ice Age: Continental Drift
      The matter of whether the world needs a fourth Ice Age movie pales beside the question of why there were three before it, but Continental Drift feels less like an extension of a theatrical franchise than an episode of a middling TV cartoon, lolling around on territory that’s already been settled.
  3. (transitive) To make pale; to diminish the brightness of.
    • c. 1599–1602, William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Hamlet, Prince of Denmarke”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358 ↗, [Act I, scene v], lines 89–91, page 258 ↗, column 1:
      The Glow-worme ſhowes the matin#English|Matine to be neere, / And gins to pale his vneffectuall Fire : / Adue, adue, Hamlet : remember me.
Translations Noun


  1. (obsolete) Paleness; pallor.
    • 1593, William Shakespeare, Venus and Adonis, lines 589–592:
      The boare (quoth ſhe) whereat a ſuddain pale, / Like lawne being ſpred vpon the bluſhing roſe, / Vſurpes her cheeke, ſhe trembles at his tale, / And on his neck her yoaking armes ſhe throwes.

pale (plural pales)

  1. A wooden stake; a picket.
    • 1707, John Mortimer (agriculturalist), The Whole Art of Husbandry, London: H. Mortlock & J. Robinson, 2nd edition, 1708, Chapter 1, pp. 11-12,
      […] if you deſign it a Fence to keep in Deer, at every eight or ten Foot diſtance, ſet a Poſt with a Mortice in it to ſtand a little ſloping over the ſide of the Bank about two Foot high; and into the Mortices put a Rail […] and no Deer will go over it, nor can they creep through it, as they do often, when a Pale tumbles down.
  2. (archaic) Fence made from wooden stake; palisade.
    • c. 1591, William Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part 1, Act IV, Scene 2,
      How are we park’d and bounded in a pale,
      A little herd of England’s timorous deer,
      Mazed with a yelping kennel of French curs!
    • 1615, Ralph Hamor, A True Discourse of the Present Estate of Virginia, London: William Welby, p. 13,
      Fourthly, they ſhall not vpon any occaſion whatſoeuer breake downe any of our pales, or come into any of our Townes or forts by any other waies, iſſues or ports then ordinary [...].
  3. (by extension) Limits, bounds (especially before of).
    • 1645, John Milton, Il Penseroso, in The Poetical Works of Milton, volume II, Edinburgh: Sands, Murray, and Cochran, published 1755, p. 151, lines 155–160:
      But let my due feet never fail, / To walk the ſtudious cloyſters pale, / And love the high embowed roof, / With antic pillars maſſy proof, / And ſtoried windows richly dight, / Caſting a dim religious light.
    • 1900, Jack London, Son of the Wolf:The Wisdom of the Trail:
      Men so situated, beyond the pale of the honor and the law, are not to be trusted.
    • 1919, B. G. Jefferis and J. L. Nichols, Searchlights on Health:When and Whom to Marry:
      All things considered, we advise the male reader to keep his desires in check till he is at least twenty-five, and the female not to enter the pale of wedlock until she has attained the age of twenty.
  4. The bounds of morality, good behaviour or judgment in civilized company, in the phrase beyond the pale.
    • 2016 October 19, Jeff Flake, on Twitter:
      [email protected] saying that he might not accept election results is beyond the pale.
  5. (heraldiccharge) A vertical band down the middle of a shield.
  6. (archaic) A territory or defensive area within a specific boundary or under a given jurisdiction.
    1. (historical) The parts of Ireland under English jurisdiction.
    2. (historical) The territory around Calais under English control (from the 14th to 16th centuries).
      • 2009, Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall, Fourth Estate 2010, p. 402:
        He knows the fortifications – crumbling – and beyond the city walls the lands of the Pale, its woods, villages and marshes, its sluices, dykes and canals.
      • 2011, Thomas Penn, Winter King, Penguin 2012, p. 73:
        A low-lying, marshy enclave stretching eighteen miles along the coast and pushing some eight to ten miles inland, the Pale of Calais nestled between French Picardy to the west and, to the east, the imperial-dominated territories of Flanders.
    3. (historical) A portion of Russia in which Jews were permitted to live.
  7. (archaic) The jurisdiction (territorial or otherwise) of an authority.
  8. A cheese scoop.
  9. A shore for bracing a timber before it is fastened.
Translations Translations Verb

pale (pales, present participle paling; past and past participle paled)

  1. To enclose with pales, or as if with pales; to encircle or encompass; to fence off.
    • c. 1609, William Shakespeare, Cymbeline, Act III, Scene 1,
      […] your iſle, which ſtands / As Neptunes Parke, ribb’d, and pal’d in / With Oakes vnſkaleable, and roaring Waters, / With Sands that will not bear your Enemies Boates, / But ſuck them vp to th’ Top-maſt.
Related terms

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