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[pel-ij] /ˈpɛl ɪdʒ/
the hair, fur, wool, or other soft covering of a mammal.
1820-30; < French, derivative of poil (Old French peil, pel; see poilu); see -age
Related forms
[puh-ley-jee-uh l] /pəˈleɪ dʒi əl/ (Show IPA),
adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for pelage
  • The remainder of their pelage is usually a variation of reds and browns with buff or gray underfur.
  • It has a flattened bushy tail, eyes ringed with white, and a marked seasonal pelage difference.
  • The pelage of the red wolf can range from tawny brown or tan to a darker shade of russet.
  • The ears and membranes are blackish-brown and tend to contrast with the pelage.
  • pelage is composed of under-fur with longer guard hairs.
  • The hare's summer coat of yellowish to grayish brown is replaced by white pelage in winter.
  • The summer pelage is more variable and lighter in color.
  • Differs from other cats in lack of spotting in adult pelage.
  • In winter the pelage is brighter, drab above, and paler below.
  • By the end of their second year, pups have taken on the same pelage color as adults.
British Dictionary definitions for pelage


the coat of a mammal, consisting of hair, wool, fur, etc
Word Origin
C19: via French from Old French pel animal's coat, from Latin pilus hair
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for pelage

"coat of a mammal," from French pelage "hair or wool of an animal" (16c.), from Old French pel "hair," from Latin pilus "hair" (see pile (n.3)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for pelage

hairy, woolly, or furry coat of a mammal, distinguished from the underlying bare skin. The pelage is significant in several respects: as insulation; as a guard against injury; and, in its coloration and pattern, as a species adornment for mutual recognition among species members, concealment from enemies, or, in the case of many males, as a sexual allurement to promote courtship and mating. Compare plumage.

Learn more about pelage with a free trial on
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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