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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
    • Drayton
      flowers of rank and mellow glebe
  3. Not coarse, rough, or harsh; subdued, soft, rich, delicate; said of sound, color, flavor, style, etc.
    • Wordsworth
      the mellow horn
    • Thomson
      the mellow-tasted Burgundy
    • Percival
      The tender flush whose mellow stain imbues / Heaven with all freaks of light.
  4. Well matured; softened by years; genial; jovial.
    • Wordsworth
      May health return to mellow age.
    • 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, 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.


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.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Shakespeare to this entry?)
    • J. C. Shairp
      The fervour of early feeling is tempered and mellowed by the ripeness of age.
  2. (intransitive) To become mellow.

Derived terms[edit]