1 [peyl]
adjective, paler, palest.
lacking intensity of color; colorless or whitish: a pale complexion.
of a low degree of chroma, saturation, or purity; approaching white or gray: pale yellow.
not bright or brilliant; dim: the pale moon.
faint or feeble; lacking vigor: a pale protest.
verb (used without object), verb (used with object), paled, paling.
to make or become pale: to pale at the sight of blood.

1250–1300; Middle English < Middle French < Latin pallidus pallid

palely, adverb
paleness, noun

1. Pale pallid wan imply an absence of color, especially from the human countenance. Pale implies a faintness or absence of color, which may be natural when applied to things, the pale blue of a violet, but when used to refer to the human face usually means an unnatural and often temporary absence of color, as arising from sickness or sudden emotion: pale cheeks. Pallid , limited mainly to the human countenance, implies an excessive paleness induced by intense emotion, disease, or death: the pallid lips of the dying man. Wan implies a sickly paleness, as after a long illness: wan and thin; the suggestion of weakness may be more prominent than that of lack of color: a wan smile. 5. blanch, whiten.

1. ruddy. 5. darken. Unabridged


2 [peyl]
a stake or picket, as of a fence.
an enclosing or confining barrier; enclosure.
an enclosed area.
limits; bounds: outside the pale of his jurisdiction.
a district or region within designated bounds.
(initial capital letter) . Also called English Pale, Irish Pale. a district in eastern Ireland included in the Angevin Empire of King Henry II and his successors.
an ordinary in the form of a broad vertical stripe at the center of an escutcheon.
Shipbuilding. a shore used inside to support the deck beams of a hull under construction.
verb (used with object), paled, paling.
to enclose with pales; fence.
to encircle or encompass.
beyond the pale, beyond the limits of propriety, courtesy, protection, safety, etc.: Their public conduct is certainly beyond the pale.

1300–50; Middle English (north), Old English pāl < Latin pālus stake. See peel3, pole1


variant of paleo- before most vowels: paleethnology.
Also, especially British, palae-. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
pale1 (peɪl)
1.  lacking brightness of colour; whitish: pale morning light
2.  (of a colour) whitish; produced by a relatively small quantity of colouring agent
3.  dim or wan: the pale stars
4.  feeble: a pale effort
5.  (South African) a euphemism for White
vb (often foll by before)
6.  to make or become pale or paler; blanch
7.  to lose superiority or importance (in comparison to): her beauty paled before that of her hostess
[C13: from Old French palle, from Latin pallidus pale, from pallēre to look wan]

pale2 (peɪl)
1.  a wooden post or strip used as an upright member in a fence
2.  an enclosing barrier, esp a fence made of pales
3.  an area enclosed by a pale
4.  a sphere of activity within which certain restrictions are applied
5.  heraldry an ordinary consisting of a vertical stripe, usually in the centre of a shield
6.  beyond the pale outside the limits of social convention
7.  (tr) to enclose with pales
[C14: from Old French pal, from Latin pālus stake; compare pole1]

palea or pale (ˈpeɪlɪə)
n , pl paleae, pales
1.  Compare lemma the inner of two bracts surrounding each floret in a grass spikelet
2.  any small membranous bract or scale
[C18: from Latin: straw, chaff; see pallet1]
pale or pale (ˈpeɪlɪə, ˈpeɪlɪˌiː)
[C18: from Latin: straw, chaff; see pallet1]
paleaceous or pale

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

c.1300, from O.Fr. paile, from L. pallidus "pale, pallid, wan," from pallere "be pale, grow pale," from PIE *pol-/*pel- (see pallor). The verb is first recorded c.1300. Pale-face, supposed N.Amer. Indian word for "European," is attested from 1822.

early 14c., "fence of pointed stakes," from L. palus "stake," related to pangere "to fix or fasten" (see pact). Figurative sense of "limit, boundary, restriction" is from c.1400. Barely surviving in beyond the pale and similar phrases. Meaning "the part of Ireland under English rule" is from 1540s.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


see beyond the pale.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
Pale light seeped in from a sun rising somewhere out of sight.
Ferny, pale yellowish green leaves are light sensitive and fold at night.
The bill is generally bulky and long and ranges from gray to pale horn in color.
Back gray, below pale whitish gray with darker flanks, white or sometimes
  yellowish vent.
Idioms & Phrases
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