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[taw-nee] /ˈtɔ ni/
adjective, tawnier, tawniest.
of a dark yellowish or dull yellowish-brown color.
a shade of brown tinged with yellow; dull yellowish brown.
Origin of tawny
1350-1400; Middle English tauny < Anglo-French taune < Middle French tané, past participle of taner to tan1
Related forms
tawnily, adverb
tawniness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for tawny
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Inspector Dunbar sat up very straight, his brows drawn down over the tawny eyes.

    The Yellow Claw Sax Rohmer
  • He glowered at his fate, and tugged his tawny moustache for some time in silence.

    Viviette William J. Locke
  • The tawny color above this spot is of a darker hue than that below and outside of it.

    The Butterfly Book William Jacob Holland
  • There could be no doubt of his identity, with the light on his strong face and tawny hair.

    A Son of Hagar Sir Hall Caine
  • For a long moment the tawny creature stood motionless, hoping that the prey would wander toward him.

    The Voice of the Pack Edison Marshall
  • Her eyes were a tawny brown; her hair a flamboyant auburn mop.

    Masters of Space Edward Elmer Smith
  • For, like a streak of tawny light, Buff had whirled out of the dooryard and was fleeing up the road.

    Buff: A Collie and other dog-stories Albert Payson Terhune
  • Indra is a mighty giant, tawny of hair and beard and tawny of aspect.

    Hindu Gods And Heroes Lionel D. Barnett
  • Underneath wisps of tawny hair, rather Mephistophelian, were clear-blue eyes, brilliant and sharp as a brigands.

    The Woman Gives Owen Johnson
British Dictionary definitions for tawny


  1. a light brown to brownish-orange colour
  2. (as adjective): tawny port
Derived Forms
tawniness, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Old French tané, from taner to tan1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for tawny

"tan-colored," late 14c., from Anglo-French tauné "associated with the brownish-yellow of tanned leather," from Old French tané (12c.), past participle of taner "to tan hides," from Medieval Latin tannare (see tan).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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