synonyms, antonyms, definitions, examples & translations of rainbow in English

English Online Dictionary. What means rainbow‎? What does rainbow mean?



From Middle English reinbowe, reinboȝe, from Old English reġnboga (rainbow), from Proto-Germanic *regnabugô (rainbow), equivalent to rain +‎ bow (arch). Cognate with West Frisian reinbôge (rainbow), Dutch regenboog (rainbow), German Regenbogen (rainbow), Danish regnbue (rainbow), Swedish regnbåge (rainbow), Icelandic regnbogi (rainbow).


  • (General American) IPA(key): /ˈɹeɪnboʊ/, /ˈɹeɪmboʊ/; enPR: rān'bō, rām'bō
  • (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ˈɹeɪnbəʊ/


rainbow (plural rainbows)

  1. A multicoloured arch in the sky, produced by prismatic refraction of light within droplets of rain in the air.
  2. Any prismatic refraction of light showing a spectrum of colours.
  3. (often used with “of”) A wide assortment; a varied multitude.
    a rainbow of possibilities
  4. (figuratively) An illusion, mirage.
    Many electoral promises are rainbows, vanishing soon after poll day.
  5. (baseball) A curveball, particularly a slow one.
  6. (poker slang) In Texas hold 'em or Omaha hold 'em, a flop that contains three different suits.
  7. Rainbow trout.
    • 1911, Francis R. Steel, Catching the Rainbow Trout, in The Outing Magazine, volume 58, page 482:
      Finally, by actual trial, I have found that I can catch more rainbow by using one fly than with a two or three-fly cast.


  • (prismatic reflection): spectrum


  • lunar rainbow
  • marine rainbow

Derived terms


  • Sranan Tongo: alenbo



rainbow (not comparable)

  1. Multicolored.
  2. (attributive, chiefly US) Made up of several races or ethnicities, or (more broadly) of several cultural or ideological factions.
    • 1994, John Simon, Of Dogs, Their Masters, and Others, in New York magazine, September 5 1994, page 51:
      That Asian-American actor Thomas Ikeda contributes a pleasingly frantic Panthino would not be considered rainbow enough.
    • 2006, Anthony Summers, Robbyn Swan, Sinatra: The Life, page 246:
      He went along with them because the Pack was a rainbow group — two Italian-Americans, a black man, a Jew (Bishop), and a sometime Englishman (Lawford) — and they were making a point.
    • 2007, Melissa Haussman, Birgit Sauer, Gendering the state in the age of globalization, page 67:
      The 1999 June elections led to a surprise change in the governing coalition from the long-term ruling Christian Democrats to a rainbow group of Greens, Liberals, and Socialists.
    • 2007, Hooson, in a Letter to the Western Mail, 19 June 2007, published in Crossing the Rubicon: coalition politics Welsh style by John Osmond, page 28:
      [] it seemed to me to be naive indeed for the Liberal Democrats to believe that they could simply enter into a rainbow alliance against the Labour Government.
  3. (attributive) LGBT.
  4. (poker, chiefly of a flop) Composed entirely of different suits.

Usage notes

  • In the United States, 'rainbow' groups/families/alliances/coalitions were originally those made up of several races or ethnicities. The term is now used more broadly, to refer (in the 2007 quotation, for example) to an alliance of several political parties. Separately, use of a rainbow flag as an LGBT symbol has led to the term being used to refer to LGBT groups (initiatives, etc).


  • (multicolored): motley, multihued, polychromatic; see also Thesaurus:multicolored
  • (made up of several races or ethnicities): multiethnic, multiracial, rainbowed
  • (made up of several factions): multipartisan



rainbow (third-person singular simple present rainbows, present participle rainbowing, simple past and past participle rainbowed)

  1. (transitive) To brighten with, or as with, a rainbow; to pattern with the colours of the rainbow.
  2. (intransitive) To take the appearance of a rainbow.



  • Weisenberg, Michael (2000) The Official Dictionary of Poker. MGI/Mike Caro University. →ISBN

WebDictionary.net is an Free English Dictionary containing information about the meaning, synonyms, antonyms, definitions, translations, etymology and more.

Related Words


Browse the English Dictionary

A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Y - Z


This article based on an article on Wiktionary. The list of authors can be seen in the page history there. The original work has been modified. This article is distributed under the terms of this license.