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A "white" and a "colored" (7) water fountain, now in a museum.

Alternative forms[edit]


  • (US) enPR: ʹkŭlərd, IPA(key): /ˈkʌləɹd/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ʌləɹd


colored (comparative more colored, superlative most colored)

  1. (American spelling) Having a color.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:colored
    Wash colored items separately from whites and darks to prevent the colors from bleeding.
  2. Having a particular color or kind of color.
    The room was red, with a dark-colored rug.
  3. Having prominent colors; colorful.
    The singer wore a colored shirt.
  4. Influenced pervasively but subtly.
    My opinions are colored by my upbringing.
  5. (US, now dated and sometimes offensive) Of skin color other than white; in particular, black.
    • 1898, William H. Chenery, The Fourteenth Regiment Rhode Island Heavy Artillery (colored) in the War to Preserve the Union, 1861-1865, page 38:
      [] a beautiful silk standard donated to the Third Battalion by the colored ladies of the city of New York, was formally presented to the battalion.
    • 1967, “Cowboys & Colored People”‎[2], performed by Flip Wilson:
      He made a smart remark about colored people and I got mad. I got mad because I like colored people. In fact, a colored lady raised me. Some of my best friends are colored people.
    • 1973, Stevie Wonder (lyrics and music), “Living for the City”, in Innervisions:
      To find a job is like a haystack needle / Because where he lives they don't use colored people
  6. (South Africa, sometimes capitalized) Belonging to a multiracial ethnic group or category, having ancestry from more than one of the racial groups of southern Africa (black, white, and Asian). (Under apartheid, used as a metadescription for mixed-race people and peoples such as the Cape Coloureds.)
    Most of the colored community speaks Afrikaans, whereas languages like Xhosa or Venda are typically spoken by blacks and English is spoken mostly by whites.
    • 2011, John Bradley; Liz Bradley; Jon Vidar; Victoria Fine, Cape Town: Winelands & the Garden Route, Modern Overland, →ISBN, page 72:
      By the end of the 19th century District Six had become a bustling and heavily populated working class neighborhood whose population was predominantly coloured, Cape Malay and African intermixed with Indian, Chinese, and European migrants.
    • 2014, Shula Marks; Stanley Trapido, editors, The Politics of Race, Class and Nationalism in Twentieth Century South Africa[3], Routledge, →ISBN:
      By 1929, many of the Coloured radicals who had been excluded from the ICU had found a temporary home in the Western Cape branch of the African National Congress (ANC).
  7. (chiefly historical) Designated for use by colored people (in either the US or South African sense).
    a colored drinking fountain
    a colored hospital
    • 1957, Jack Kerouac, On the Road, Viking Press, OCLC 43419454:
      New Orleans is a very dull town. It’s against the law to go to the colored section. The bars are insufferably dreary.

Usage notes[edit]

Referring to people—in 2006 British anthropological surveys by Peter J. Aspinall et al, out of 75 general population respondents who identified as “mixed race” and one who did not, none found the term “coloured” offensive. Out of 311 student respondents who identified as “mixed race” and 15 who did not, 11 found the term “coloured” offensive.[1]

Coordinate terms[edit]


Derived terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


colored (plural coloreds)

  1. (American spelling, US, now dated and offensive) A colored (nonwhite) person.
    • 2005, "Creed, OK", Carnivàle episode 17
      When a white fellow gets in the ring with an eight ball the eight ball's got no chance. You see, 'cause they call boxing the sweet science. And that's where your colored just runs into trouble. That's just that science part.
      Yeah, but Joe Louis is a big 'un.
  2. English Wikipedia has an article on:
    (South Africa) A colored person; a person descended from more than one of the racial groups of Southern Africa (black white, Asian, Austronesian).
  3. (laundry) A colored article of clothing.




  1. (American spelling) simple past tense and past participle of color

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ Aspinall, Peter J. (April 2009), “'Mixed Race', 'Mixed Origins' or What? Generic Terminology for the Multiple Racial/Ethnic Group Population”, in Anthropology Today[1], volume 25, issue 2, Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, DOI:10.1111/j.1467-8322.2009.00653.x, ISSN 0268-540X, JSTOR 20528211, OCLC 787833449, archived from the original on 2010-07-15, pages 3–8