See also: Purple


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Various shades of purple.


From Middle English purple, purpel, purpur, from Old English purple, purpuren (purple), taken from Latin purpura (purple dye, shellfish), from Ancient Greek πορφύρα (porphúra, purple fish), perhaps of Semitic origin. Doublet of purpura.



purple (plural purples)

  1. A color that is a dark blend of red and blue; dark magenta.
    bright purple:  
    Synonym: blue-red
  2. (colour theory) Any non-spectral colour on the line of purples on a colour chromaticity diagram or a colour wheel between violet and red.
  3. Cloth, or a garment, dyed a purple colour; especially, a purple robe, worn as an emblem of rank or authority; specifically, the purple robe or mantle worn by Ancient Roman emperors as the emblem of imperial dignity.
    to put on the imperial purple
  4. (by extension) Imperial power, because the colour purple was worn by emperors and kings.
  5. Any of various species of mollusks from which Tyrian purple dye was obtained, especially the common dog whelk.
  6. The purple haze cultivar of cannabis in the kush family, either pure or mixed with others, or by extension any variety of smoked marijuana.
    • 2005, Tipi Paul, Wanna Smoke?: The Adventures of a Storyteller, page 14:
      "Sure, some purple Owlsley."
    • 2010, Mark Arax, West of the West, page 221:
      Purple smoke is no joke. Especially when it is real purple. The smell, taste, and high is easily one of the best in the world. One bowl of some purple Kush, and I'm done for a couple of hours.
    • 2011, Danielle Santiago, Allure of the Game, page 148:
      She preferred to smoke some good purple, but getting high wasn't an option.
  7. (medicine) Purpura.
  8. Earcockle, a disease of wheat.
  9. Any of the species of large butterflies, usually marked with purple or blue, of the genus Basilarchia (formerly Limenitis).
    the banded purple
  10. A cardinalate.
  11. (slang, US) Ellipsis of purple drank.
    • 2012, “Magic”, in Pluto, performed by Future ft. T.I.:
      Fishtailing out the parking lot leaving Magic / Sipping on the purple and the yellow, drinking magic
  12. (UK, slang) Synonym of snakebite and black.



purple (comparative purpler or more purple, superlative purplest or most purple)

  1. Having a colour/color that is a dark blend of red and blue.
    Synonym: (literary, poetic) purpureal
    • 1908, W[illiam] B[lair] M[orton] Ferguson, chapter IV, in Zollenstein, New York, N.Y.: D. Appleton & Company, →OCLC, page 40:
      So this was my future home, I thought! [] Backed by towering hills, the but faintly discernible purple line of the French boundary off to the southwest, a sky of palest Gobelin flecked with fat, fleecy little clouds, it in truth looked a dear little city; the city of one's dreams.
  2. (US politics) Not predominantly red or blue, but having a mixture of Democrat and Republican support.
    purple city
    • 2010, Hal K. Rothman, The Making of Modern Nevada, University of Nevada Press, →ISBN, page 162:
      In the end, Nevada remained the quintessential purple state. On the maps that television used to illustrate political trends, Republican states were red and Democratic blue. Nevada blended the colors. It had a bright blue core in the heart of Las Vegas, surrounded by a purple suburban belt. Most of the rest of the state was bright red, especially in the rural counties.
    • 2011 May 7, Margalit Fox, “Lanny Friedlander, Founder of Reason Magazine, Dies at 63”, in The New York Times[1], →ISSN:
      As Mr. Friedlander conceived it, Reason was neither strictly right-wing libertarian nor strictly left — in modern parlance, neither red nor blue but a purple amalgam of the two.
    • 2023 May 4, Frank Bruni, “Republicans Are Running Wild in My State”, in The New York Times[2]:
      Political colorists can be promiscuous in calling states purple, but my state is true to that hue. I speak of North Carolina, and I have receipts: While our junior senator, Ted Budd, is a Republican who won election to a first term in 2022 by about three percentage points, our governor, Roy Cooper, is a Democrat who won election to a second term in 2020 by more than four.
  3. (in Netherlands and Belgium) Mixed between social democrats and liberals.
  4. Imperial; regal.
  5. Blood-red; bloody.
  6. (of language) Extravagantly ornate, like purple prose.
  7. (motor racing, of a sector, lap, etc.) Completed in the fastest time so far in a given session.




purple (third-person singular simple present purples, present participle purpling, simple past and past participle purpled)

  1. (intransitive) To turn purple in colour.
    • 1966, James Workman, The Mad Emperor, Melbourne, Sydney: Scripts, page 143:
      [T]he Capri cliffs, the tops of which were still pink against the purpling sky.
    • 1999, David Edelstein, In Nomine: Corporeal Player's Guide, Steve Jackson Games,, →ISBN, page 8:
      The gang leader purpled and raised his gun.
  2. (transitive) To dye purple.
  3. (transitive) To clothe in purple.

Derived termsEdit

See alsoEdit

Colors in English · colors, colours (layout · text)
     white      gray, grey      black
             red; crimson              orange; brown              yellow; cream
             lime, lime green              green              mint
             cyan; teal              azure, sky blue              blue
             violet; indigo              magenta; purple              pink


Middle EnglishEdit


purple (uncountable)

  1. Alternative form of purpel



  1. Alternative form of purpel