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. Cognate with Dutch purper (purple), German Purpur (purple; crimson), Gothic 𐍀𐌰𐌿𐍂𐍀𐌿𐍂𐌰 (paurpura, purple).



purple (plural purples)

  1. A colour/color that is a dark blend of red and blue; dark magenta.
    purple colour:  
    • 1667, John Milton, “Book IV”, in Paradise Lost. A Poem Written in Ten Books, London: Printed [by Samuel Simmons], and are to be sold by Peter Parker [] [a]nd by Robert Boulter [] [a]nd Matthias Walker, [], OCLC 228722708; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: The Text Exactly Reproduced from the First Edition of 1667: [], London: Basil Montagu Pickering [], 1873, OCLC 230729554, lines 596–597:
      Arraying with reflected Purple and Gold / The Clouds that on his Weſtern Throne attend.
  2. 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
  3. (by extension) Imperial power, because the colour purple was worn by emperors and kings.
    • (Can we date this quote by Gibbon and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      He was born in the purple.
    • 1946, Bertrand Russell, History of Western Philosophy, I.29:
      The immediate successors of Augustus indulged in appalling cruelties towards senators and towards possible competitors for the purple.
  4. Any of various species of mollusks from which Tyrian purple dye was obtained, especially the common dog whelk.
  5. 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.
  6. (medicine) Purpura.
  7. Earcockle, a disease of wheat.
  8. Any of the species of large butterflies, usually marked with purple or blue, of the genus Basilarchia (formerly Limenitis).
    the banded purple
  9. A cardinalate.



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.
    • 1908, W[illiam] B[lair] M[orton] Ferguson, chapter IV, in Zollenstein, New York, N.Y.: D. Appleton & Company, OCLC 731476803, 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, as in purple state, 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.
  3. (in Netherlands and Belgium) Mixed between social democrats and liberals.
  4. Imperial; regal.
    • (Can we date this quote by Percy Bysshe Shelley and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      Hide in the dust thy purple pride.
  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.
    • 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              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