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From Middle English melowe, melwe (soft, sweet, juicy), variant of Middle English merow, merwe (soft, tender), from Old English meru, mearu (tender, soft, callow, delicate, frail), from Proto-Germanic *marwaz (mellow), from Proto-Indo-European *mer(w)- (to rub, pack). Cognate with Middle Dutch meru (tender), German mürbe (tender, soft), Swedish mör (tender; aching), Icelandic meyr (tender).



mellow (comparative mellower or more mellow, superlative mellowest or most mellow)

  1. Soft or tender by reason of ripeness; having a tender pulp.
    a mellow apple
  2. Easily worked or penetrated; not hard or rigid.
    a mellow soil
    • (Can we date this quote?) Drayton
      flowers of rank and mellow glebe
  3. Not coarse, rough, or harsh; subdued, soft, rich, delicate; said of sound, color, flavor, style, etc.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Wordsworth
      the mellow horn
    • (Can we date this quote?) Thomson
      the mellow-tasted Burgundy
    • (Can we date this quote?) Percival
      The tender flush whose mellow stain imbues / Heaven with all freaks of light.
  4. Well matured; softened by years; genial; jovial.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Wordsworth
      May health return to mellow age.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Washington Irving
      as merry and mellow an old bachelor as ever followed a hound
  5. Relaxed; calm; easygoing; laid-back.
    • 1963, Margery Allingham, chapter 3, in The China Governess[1]:
      Here the stripped panelling was warmly gold and the pictures, mostly of the English school, were mellow and gentle in the afternoon light.
  6. Warmed by liquor, slightly intoxicated, stoned, or high.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Addison to this entry?)

Derived terms[edit]



mellow (plural mellows)

  1. A relaxed mood.
    • 1997, Neil A. Hamilton, The ABC-CLIO companion to the 1960s counterculture in America‎, page 258:
      Yet, conversely, some people searched for the mellow ... Hope for flower power had faded, though the journey into the mellow did not
    • 1999, Kurt Andersen, Turn of the century‎, page 508:
      On their third date, Lizzie had actually said to him, "You're sort of harshing my mellow." It made him wonder if she might be stupid, and not just young.

Derived terms[edit]


mellow (third-person singular simple present mellows, present participle mellowing, simple past and past participle mellowed)

  1. (transitive) To make mellow; to relax or soften.
    • The fervour of early feeling is tempered and mellowed by the ripeness of age.
  2. (intransitive) To become mellow.
    • William Shakespeare, Richard III (act 4 scene 4)
      So now prosperity begins to mellow
      And drop into the rotten mouth of death.

Derived terms[edit]