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[waw-ter-kuhl-er, wot-er-] /ˈwɔ tərˌkʌl ər, ˈwɒt ər-/
a pigment for which water and not oil is used as the vehicle.
the art or technique of painting with such pigments.
a painting or design executed in such pigments by this technique.
Origin of watercolor
1590-1600; water + color
Related forms
water-color, adjective
watercolorist, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for watercolor
  • Demonstrations of drawing insects through a microscope, watercolor and graphite will be shown during the reception.
  • Watch for views of the peaks, an alpine watercolor framed by your windshield.
  • Here's a sample of his drawings from the book, done in ink, watercolor and gouache.
  • Visitors will see watercolor, oil paintings and pastels.
  • Craft furniture, clothing, hats and watercolor paintings are displayed side-by-side.
  • watercolor ingestion occurs when someone accidentally or intentionally eats or swallows watercolor paints.
  • The artist may have been creating watercolor copies of his oils to take advantage of the new vogue for the medium.
British Dictionary definitions for watercolor


  1. Also called pure watercolour. water-soluble pigment, applied in transparent washes and without the admixture of white pigment in the lighter tones
  2. any water-soluble pigment, including opaque kinds such as gouache and tempera
  1. a painting done in watercolours
  2. (as modifier): a watercolour masterpiece
the art or technique of painting with such pigments
Derived Forms
watercolourist, (US) watercolorist, noun
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 watercolor

1590s, "pigment that dissolves in water," from water (n.1) + color. Meaning "picture painted in watercolors" is attested from 1854.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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