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Extreme or unnatural paleness.

[Middle English pallour, from Old French palor, from Latin pallor, from pallēre, to be pale; see pel- in Indo-European roots.]


a pale condition, esp when unnatural: fear gave his face a deathly pallor.
[C17: from Latin: whiteness (of the skin), from pallēre to be pale1]


(ˈpæl ər)

unusual or extreme paleness, as from fear, ill health, or death.
[1650–60; < Latin: paleness <pall(ēre) to be pale]


 of nightwatchmen—Lipton, 1970.




  1. Pale as cardboard —Paige Mitchell
  2. Pale as white wine —Sir Kenelm Digby
  3. Blanch like conscious guilt personified —Charlotte Brontë
  4. Bleached like the skeleton of a stranded walrus —Herman Melville
  5. A face like paper —J. B. Priestly
  6. Face like parchment —G. K. Chesterton
  7. (His long, pendulous) face looked as if it had been dusted with white talc —Aharon Megged
  8. Face … pale as a Chinese mandarin’s —Nadine Gordimer
  9. Face … pale as a dead man’s —Ivan Turgenev
  10. Face … pale as a fish —T. Coraghessan Boyle
  11. Face, pallid and simmering like a milk pudding over a slow flame —Julia O’Faolain
  12. His waxy pallor was touched along the underside of his jaw with acne, like two brush burns —John Updike
  13. Look [pale] like Yom Kippur before sunset —Isaac Bashevis Singer
  14. Pale as a silkfish —Diane Ackerman
  15. Pale and dirty as a pulled root —George Garrett
  16. Pale as a birch —Louise Erdrich
  17. (A scar) pale as a fishgut —Davis Grubb
  18. Pale as a ghost with pernicious anemia —Anon

    A twist on the cliche, “Pale as a ghost.”

  19. Pale as a hyacinth grown in a cellar —Edith Wharton
  20. (Looking as) pale as a magnolia blossom —Sarah Bird
  21. Pale as a primrose —William Shakespeare
  22. Pale [after donating a lot of blood] as a princess after a date with Dracula —Kenzaburo Oë
  23. Pale as a prisoner —Carlos Baker
  24. (Always cool and) pale as a root —Jayne Anne Phillips
  25. Pale as a shell —James Wright
  26. Pale as a smooth-sculptured stone —John Keats
  27. Pale as a white rose —Nathaniel Hawthorne
  28. Pale as bleached clay —Z. Vance Wilson
  29. Pale as candles —Reynolds Price

    A more specific version by McKinlay Kantor is “Pale as a tallow candle.”

  30. Pale as china —Sylvia Plath
  31. (The desert looks) pale as death —Henry Chettle

    According to Stevenson’s Book of Proverbs, Maxims, and Famous Phrases, Chettle was the first to use the simile in his seventeenth century play, Hoffman. The earliest linkage to the complexion is variously attributed to Walter Scott’s Guy Mannering, Thomas Hardy’s The Mayor of Casterbridge and Henry James’ The Madonna of the Future.

  32. Pale as distemper —Miles Gibson
  33. Pale as his shirt —William Shakespeare
  34. Pale as ivory —Ouida
  35. Pale as junket —Christina Stead
  36. Pale as milk —William Shakespeare

    The similes from masters like the Bard are often used “as is” or with minor additions such as “Pale as cold milk” seen in Davis Grubb’s novel, The Golden Sickle.

  37. (Face) pale as sand —Stevie Smith
  38. Pale as straw —William Evans
  39. Pale as the bottom of a plate —Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
  40. Pale … as the mist that hangs over the river —Oscar Wilde
  41. Pale as the soap in the dish —Jean Thompson
  42. Pale as the tenant of a tomb —Edgar Allen Poe
  43. Pale as waxworks —Maxine Kumin
  44. Paler than ashes —Algernon Charles Swinburne
  45. Paler than grass in summer —Algernon Charles Swinburne
  46. (Thighs) pale and soft as snow —Lyn Lifshin

    See Also: SOFTNESS

  47. So white she was almost transparent —Jonathan Gash
  48. The transparent pallor of her skin was luminous like a sea-shell in green shadow of the pine-trees —Elinor Wylie
  49. Turned white as a tablecloth —Rudyard Kipling
  50. Wan as the Polar snows —Stephen Vincent Benét
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.pallor - unnatural lack of color in the skin (as from bruising or sickness or emotional distress)pallor - unnatural lack of color in the skin (as from bruising or sickness or emotional distress)
complexion, skin color, skin colour - the coloring of a person's face


noun paleness, whiteness, lack of colour, wanness, bloodlessness, ashen hue, pallidness Her face had a deathly pallor.
شُحوب الوَجْه


[ˈpæləʳ] Npalidez f


[ˈpælər] npâleur f


nBlässe f, → Fahlheit f


[ˈpæləʳ] npallore m


(ˈpӕlid) adjective
unpleasantly pale (usually suggesting ill-health). He looked pallid and sickly.
ˈpallor noun
unpleasant paleness. an unhealthy pallor.


n. palidez.


n palidez f
References in classic literature ?
When they went back to be kissed and cuddled by faithful Hannah, they found Beth lying, as she used to do, with her cheek pillowed on her hand, the dreadful pallor gone, and breathing quietly, as if just fallen asleep.
Her sudden illness, when the gaiety was at its height, her pallor, the handkerchief she crushed against her lips, the cough she smothered under the laughter while Gaston kept playing the piano lightly--it all wrung my heart.
Hester turned again towards Pearl with a crimson blush upon her cheek, a conscious glance aside clergyman, and then a heavy sigh, while, even before she had time to speak, the blush yielded to a deadly pallor.
It cannot well be doubted, that the one visible quality in the aspect of the dead which most appals the gazer, is the marble pallor lingering there; as if indeed that pallor were as much like the badge of consternation in the other world, as of mortal trepidation here.
and once more the high tapering flames were beheld with what seemed redoubled supernaturalness in their pallor.
In the midst of the mist, however, the visitor would suddenly notice the tense set face, with the two wrinkles graven in the forehead, and the ghastly pallor of the cheeks; and then he would suddenly recollect that it was time he was going on.
She had seen the pallor creep into the girl's face, the hunted look in her eyes, and the trembling of the lashes on her cheeks, and realized the ordeal through which she was passing.
Rochester's extreme pallor had disappeared, and he looked once more firm and stern.
Her face, always remarkable for its want of color, was now startling to contemplate, in its blank, bloodless pallor.
Almost as soon as he had spoken, a portly upright man (whom I can see now, as I write) in a well-worn olive-coloured frock-coat, with a peculiar pallor over-spreading the red in his complexion, and eyes that went wandering about when he tried to fix them, came up to a corner of the bars, and put his hand to his hat - which had a greasy and fatty surface like cold broth - with a half-serious and half-jocose military salute.
In a few moments, Alan Campbell walked in, looking very stern and rather pale, his pallor being intensified by his coal-black hair and dark eyebrows.
At these words, a deathly pallor spread over Christine's face, dark rings formed round her eyes, she staggered and seemed on the point of swooning.