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1. That aspect of things that is caused by differing qualities of the light reflected or emitted by them, definable in terms of the observer or of the light, as:
a. The appearance of objects or light sources described in terms of the individual's perception of them, involving hue, lightness, and saturation for objects, and hue, brightness, and saturation for light sources.
b. The characteristics of light by which the individual is made aware of objects or light sources through the receptors of the eye, described in terms of dominant wavelength, luminance, and purity.
c. A gradation or variation of this aspect, especially when other than black, white, or gray; a hue: fireworks that exploded in brilliant colors.
2. A substance, such as a dye, pigment, or paint, that imparts a hue.
a. The use of different colors in visual representation.
b. The different colors used in visual representation: one of the earliest movies in color.
a. The general appearance of the skin, especially as an indication of good health: regained her color after a few days' rest.
b. A reddening of the face, as a blush or sign of anger.
5. Skin pigmentation considered as a racial characteristic or a marker of racial identity, especially when other than white: "My father told me if I go west, there's integration; you don't worry about color" (Itabari Njeri). See Usage Note at person of color.
6. colors
a. A colored item, such as a badge, ribbon, or piece of clothing, serving as an identifying mark: wore the colors of their college.
b. A flag or banner, as of a country or military unit: a ship flying the colors of Brazil.
c. The salute made during the ceremony of raising or lowering a flag.
7. colors One's opinion or position: Stick to your colors.
8. often colors Character or nature: revealed their true colors.
a. An outward and often deceptive appearance: a tale with the merest color of truth.
b. Appearance of authenticity: testimony that lends color to an otherwise absurd notion.
c. Law The appearance of a legal claim, as to a right or office.
a. Vividness or variety in expression: a story told with a lot of color.
b. Commentary distinguished by vivid details or background information, as during a sports broadcast: A former coach provided the color for the championship game.
11. Local color.
12. The use or effect of pigment in painting, as distinct from form.
13. Music Quality of tone or timbre.
14. A particle or bit of gold found in auriferous gravel or sand.
15. Physics See color charge.
16. Astronomy See color index.
v. col·ored, col·or·ing, col·ors
1. To impart color to or change the color of.
a. To give a distinctive character or quality to; modify: "Both books are colored by the author's childhood experiences" (Deborah M. Locke).
b. To exert an influence on; affect: The war colored the soldier's life.
a. To misrepresent, especially by distortion or exaggeration: color the facts.
b. To gloss over; excuse: a parent who colored the children's lies.
a. To take on color.
b. To change color.
2. To become red in the face; redden or blush.

[Middle English colour, from Old French, from Latin color; see kel- in Indo-European roots.]

col′or·er n.




  1. An amber mixture like autumn leaves —Francois Maspero
  2. Bright gold like a diadem —Angela Carter
  3. (Sky damp and) colorless as a cough —Sharon Sheehe Stark
  4. Colorless as a desert —Alice McDermott
  5. Colorless like the white paper streamer a Chinaman pulls out of his mouth —editor, Dragonfly Magazine, 1880

    This simile appeared in a rejection letter sent to Anton Chekhov when he was still a fledgling writer.

  6. Colors are as soft as a Mediterranean dawn —Bryan Miller, New York Times, July 3, 1987

    Miller’s simile pertained to the colors of a restaurant.

  7. Colors as clear as notes perfectly played —A. E. Maxwell
  8. Colors [of Christmas candy] … as piercing as the joys and sufferings of the poor … red like the love that was celebrated in doorways … yellow like the flames in a drunk man’s brain —Heinrich Boll
  9. Colors clear as fresh-cut flowers —Joan Chase
  10. Deep colored as old rugs —Eudora Welty
  11. As full of color as blood —John Logan
  12. Gold as the seeds of a melon —Dame Edith Sitwell
  13. A good soldier, like a good horse, cannot be of a bad color —Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

    See Also: ARMY

  14. Orange as the sunset —Dashiell Hammett
  15. Orange bright like golden lamps in a green light —Andrew Marvell
  16. [A taxi] painted in an arabesque of colors, like a psychedelic dream gone wild —Andrew Kaplan
  17. (His split lip is as) purple as a nightcrawler stuck on a hook —Robert Flanagan

    This simile begins Flanagan’s short story, Naked to Naked Goes.

  18. Purple as a grape —Dashiell Hammett
  19. [Cabbage] purply as cheap stained glass —Babette Deutsch
  20. The reds and browns and golds of the trees seem ready to drip from their branches like wet dye —Alice McDermott

    See Also: TREES

  21. Silvery as sleighbells —Diane Ackerman
  22. Two-toned like a layer cake —Donald McCaig
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.Colors - a flag that shows its nationalitycolors - a flag that shows its nationality  
ensign - colors flown by a ship to show its nationality
flag - emblem usually consisting of a rectangular piece of cloth of distinctive design
plural, plural form - the form of a word that is used to denote more than one
2.colors - a distinguishing emblem; "his tie proclaimed his school colors"
emblem - special design or visual object representing a quality, type, group, etc.
plural, plural form - the form of a word that is used to denote more than one
References in classic literature ?
in different colors on each, and the weekly newspaper called, The Pickwick Portfolio, to which all contributed something, while Jo, who reveled in pens and ink, was the editor.
Black clouds made the green of the trees and the grass stand out so that the colors hurt my eyes.
The colors of the war-paint had blended in dark confusion about his fierce countenance, and rendered his swarthy lineaments still more savage and repulsive than if art had attempted an effect which had been thus produced by chance.
Though his entire back down to his side fins is of a deep sable, yet a boundary line, distinct as the mark in a ship's hull, called the bright waist, that line streaks him from stem to stern, with two separate colors, black above and white below.
As we glided nearer, the stranger showed French colors from his peak; and by the eddying cloud of vulture sea-fowl that circled, and hovered, and swooped around him, it was plain that the whale alongside must be what the fishermen call a blasted whale, that is, a whale that has died unmolested on the sea, and so floated an unappropriated corpse.
My boy, Liberty does not come from colors, they only show party, and all the liberty you can get out of them is, liberty to get drunk at other people's expense, liberty to ride to the poll in a dirty old cab, liberty to abuse any one that does not wear your color, and to shout yourself hoarse at what you only half-understand -- that's your liberty
Every minute, as the train sped on, the colors of things became dingier; the fields were grown parched and yellow, the landscape hideous and bare.
He was much over-dressed, in a gaudy vest of many colors, a blue neckerchief, bedropped gayly with yellow spots, and arranged with a flaunting tie, quite in keeping with the general air of the man.
Sir Francis Head, an English traveler and a Governor-General of Canada, tells us that "in both the northern and southern hemispheres of the New World, Nature has not only outlined her works on a larger scale, but has painted the whole picture with brighter and more costly colors than she used in delineating and in beautifying the Old World.
There was an exchange of bugle blasts; then a parley from the walls, where men-at-arms, in hauberk and morion, marched back and forth with halberd at shoulder under flapping banners with the rude figure of a dragon displayed upon them; and then the great gates were flung open, the drawbridge was lowered, and the head of the cavalcade swept forward under the frowning arches; and we, following, soon found ourselves in a great paved court, with towers and turrets stretching up into the blue air on all the four sides; and all about us the dismount was going on, and much greeting and ceremony, and running to and fro, and a gay display of moving and intermingling colors, and an altogether pleasant stir and noise and confusion.
Nine-tenths of the Heidelberg students wore no badge or uniform; the other tenth wore caps of various colors, and belonged to social organizations called "corps.
When the place couldn't hold no more, the duke he quit tending door and went around the back way and come on to the stage and stood up before the curtain and made a little speech, and praised up this tragedy, and said it was the most thrillingest one that ever was; and so he went on a- bragging about the tragedy, and about Edmund Kean the Elder, which was to play the main principal part in it; and at last when he'd got everybody's expecta- tions up high enough, he rolled up the curtain, and the next minute the king come a-prancing out on all fours, naked; and he was painted all over, ring- streaked-and-striped, all sorts of colors, as splendid as a rainbow.