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

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


Alternative forms

  • yeallow (obsolete), yeller (dialect)


From Middle English yelwe, yelou, from Old English ġeolwe, oblique form of of Old English ġeolu, from Proto-West Germanic *gelu, from Proto-Germanic *gelwaz, from Proto-Indo-European *ǵʰelh₃wos, from *ǵʰelh₃- (gleam, yellow)

Compare Welsh gwelw (pale), Latin helvus (dull yellow), Irish geal (white, bright), Lithuanian žalias (green), Ancient Greek χλωρός (khlōrós, light green), Persian زرد(zard, yellow), Sanskrit हरि (hari, greenish-yellow). Cognate with German gelb (yellow), Dutch geel (yellow).

The verb is from Old English ġeolwian, from the adjective.


  • (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ˈjɛl.əʊ/
  • (General American) enPR: yĕl′ō, IPA(key): /ˈjɛl.oʊ/
  • (dialect) IPA(key): /ˈjɛl.ɚ/
  • (dated, Southern US folk speech) IPA(key): /jɛlə/, /ˈjælə/, /ˈjɑlə/, /ˈjɪlə/, /ˈjʌlə/
  • Rhymes: -ɛləʊ


yellow (comparative yellower or more yellow, superlative yellowest or most yellow)

  1. Having yellow as its color.
    • 1667, John Milton, Paradise Lost (1667) - Book X, line 434
      A sweaty reaper from his tillage brought / First fruits, the green ear and the yellow sheaf.
    • 1911, J. Milton Hayes, "The green eye of the little yellow god,"
      There's a one-eyed yellow idol / To the north of Kathmandu; / There's a little marble cross below the town; / And a brokenhearted woman / Tends the grave of 'Mad' Carew, / While the yellow god for ever gazes down.
    • 1962 (quoting c. 1398 text), Hans Kurath & Sherman M. Kuhn, editors, Middle English Dictionary, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan Press, ISBN 978-0-472-01044-8, page 1242:
      dorrẹ̅, dōrī adj. & n. [] Golden or reddish-yellow [] (a. 1398) *Trev. Barth. 59b/a: ȝelouȝ colour [of urine] [] tokeneþ febleness of hete [] dorrey & citrine & liȝt red tokeneþ mene.
    Antonyms: nonyellow, unyellow
  2. (informal) Lacking courage.
    • 1975, Monty Python, Monty Python and the Holy Grail
      You yellow bastards! Come back here and take what's coming to you!
    Synonym: cowardly
  3. (publishing, journalism) Characterized by sensationalism, lurid content, and doubtful accuracy.
    • 2004, Doreen Carvajal, "Photo edict muffles gossipy press," International Herald Tribune, 4 Oct. (retrieved 29 July 2008),
      The denizens of the gossipy world of the pink press, purple prose and yellow tabloids are shivering over disputed photographs of Princess Caroline of Monaco.
  4. (chiefly derogatory, offensive, racist) Of the skin, having the colour traditionally attributed to Far East Asians, especially Chinese.
  5. (chiefly derogatory, offensive, ethnic slur) Far East Asian (relating to Asian people).
    • 1913, Sax Rohmer, The Insidious Dr. Fu-Manchu
      Imagine that awful being, and you have a mental picture of Dr. Fu-Manchu, the yellow peril incarnate in one man.
  6. (dated, Australia, offensive) Of mixed Aboriginal and Caucasian ancestry.
    • 1938, Xavier Herbert, Capricornia, Chapter VI, p. 64, [2]
      "Eh, Oscar—you hear about your yeller nephew?".
  7. (dated, US) Synonym of high yellow
    • 1933 September 9, James Thurber, “My Life and Hard Times—VI. A Sequence of Servants”, in The New Yorker
      Charley threw her over for a yellow gal named Nancy: he never forgave Vashti for the vanishing from his life of a menace that had come to mean more to him than Vashti herself.
  8. (Britain, politics) Related to the Liberal Democrats.
    • 2012 March 2, Andrew Grice, "Yellow rebels take on Clegg over NHS 'betrayal'", The Independent
  9. (politics) Related to the Free Democratic Party of Germany.

Derived terms



yellow (plural yellows)

  1. The colour of gold, cheese, or a lemon; the colour obtained by mixing green and red light, or by subtracting blue from white light.
  2. (US) The intermediate light in a set of three traffic lights, the illumination of which indicates that drivers should stop short of the intersection if it is safe to do so.
  3. (snooker) One of the colour balls used in snooker, with a value of 2 points.
  4. (pocket billiards) One of two groups of object balls, or a ball from that group, as used in the principally British version of pool that makes use of unnumbered balls (the (yellow(s) and red(s)); contrast stripes and solids in the originally American version with numbered balls).
  5. (sports) A yellow card.
  6. Any of various pierid butterflies of the subfamily Coliadinae, especially the yellow coloured species. Compare sulphur.


  • (intermediate light in a set of three traffic lights): amber (British)


  • (intermediate light in a set of three traffic lights): red, green


  • (color): bronze yellow, cadmium yellow, fast yellow AB, quinoline yellow, school bus yellow, sulfur yellow, sulphur yellow, taxi yellow, yellow-green, yellow 2G

Derived terms

  • beyellowed
  • see yellow



yellow (third-person singular simple present yellows, present participle yellowing, simple past and past participle yellowed)

  1. (intransitive) To become yellow or more yellow.
    • 1977, Alistair Horne, A Savage War of Peace, New York Review Books 2006, page 47:
      Then suddenly, with the least warning, the sky yellows and the Chergui blows in from the Sahara, stinging the eyes and choking with its sandy, sticky breath.
    • 2013, Robert Miraldi, Seymour Hersh, Potomac Books, Inc. (→ISBN), page 187:
      Interviews, clippings, yellowing stories from foreign newspapers, notebooks with old scribblings. Salisbury called it the debris of a reporter always too much on the run to sort out the paper, but there it was, an investigator's dream, []
  2. (transitive) To make (something) yellow or more yellow.


See also

  • All pages with yellow as a prefix



  • Yowell

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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.