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Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English salowe, from Old English salu, from Proto-Germanic *salwaz (compare Dutch zaluw, dialectal German sal), from Proto-Indo-European *solH- (compare Irish salach (dirty), Welsh halog, Latin salīva, Russian соло́вый (solóvyj, cream-colored)).


sallow (comparative sallower, superlative sallowest)

  1. (of skin) Yellowish.
    1. (most regions, of Caucasian skin) Of a sickly pale colour.
      • 1913, Mrs. [Marie] Belloc Lowndes, chapter II, in The Lodger, London: Methuen, OCLC 7780546; republished in Novels of Mystery: The Lodger; The Story of Ivy; What Really Happened, New York, N.Y.: Longmans, Green and Co., 55 Fifth Avenue, [1933], OCLC 2666860, page 0091:
        Then his sallow face brightened, for the hall had been carefully furnished, and was very clean. ¶ There was a neat hat-and-umbrella stand, and the stranger's weary feet fell soft on a good, serviceable dark-red drugget, which matched in colour the flock-paper on the walls.
      • 1934, George Orwell, Burmese Days:
        Scenes like this — the sallow evening light, the old Indian cropping grass, the creak of the cartwheels, the streaming egrets — were more native to him than England.
    2. (Ireland) Of a tan colour, associated with people from southern Europe or East Asia.
  2. Dirty; murky.

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English salwe, from Old English sealh, from Proto-Germanic *salhaz, masculine variant of *salhō, *salhjōn (compare Low German Sal, Saal; Swedish sälg), from Proto-Indo-European *sh₂lk-, *sh₂lik- (compare Welsh helyg, Latin salix), probably originally a borrowing from some other language.


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sallow (plural sallows)

  1. A European willow, Salix caprea, that has broad leaves, large catkins and tough wood.
    • 1819, Keats, To Autumn:
      Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
      Among the river sallows, borne aloft
      Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
  2. Willow twigs.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Fawkes
      Bend the pliant sallow to a shield.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Emerson
      The sallow knows the basketmaker's thumb.
Derived terms[edit]