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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; or, stoned, 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]