Also found in: Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Idioms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
click for a larger image


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.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.




  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
Similes Dictionary, 1st Edition. © 1988 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.
References in classic literature ?
"A bed-quilt made of patches of different kinds and colors of cloth, all neatly sewed together.
'crazy-quilt,' because the patches and colors are so mixed up.
But in other parts of Oz the people favor different colors. At the Emerald City, where our Princess Ozma lives, green is the popular color.
"As with sounds, so with colors. At each end of the solar spectrum the chemist can detect the presence of what are known as 'actinic' rays.
"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!"
There are as many `blue' blackguards as there are `orange', and as many white as there are purple, or any other color, and I won't have any of my family mixed up with it.
"White light is composed of the seven primary colors," he argued to me.
Where, at first, it absorbed all colors from the light but red, its molecular structure was so changed that it absorbed red and all colors except blue.
It might perhaps be interesting to explain to the gentle reader the beautiful chain of theories which go to prove that the tulip borrows its colors from the elements; perhaps we should give him pleasure if we were to maintain and establish that nothing is impossible for a florist who avails himself with judgment and discretion and patience of the sun's heat; the clear water, the juices of the earth, and the cool breezes.
They gave out that they knew how to weave stuffs of the most beautiful colors and elaborate patterns, the clothes manufactured from which should have the wonderful property of remaining invisible to everyone who was unfit for the office he held, or who was extraordinarily simple in character.
The impostors requested him very courteously to be so good as to come nearer their looms; and then asked him whether the design pleased him, and whether the colors were not very beautiful; at the same time pointing to the empty frames.
THE PURCHASER of a black servant was persuaded that the color of his skin arose from dirt contracted through the neglect of his former masters.