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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.


English Wikipedia has an article on:

sallow (plural sallows)

  1. A European willow, Salix caprea, that has broad leaves, large catkins and tough wood.
    • c. 1553, Humphrey Llwyd (translator), The Treasury of Healthe, London: William Coplande, Remedies, Chapter 44,[1]
      I[f] a man eate the flowers of a sallow or wyllowe tree, or of a Poplet tree, they wyl make cold al the heate of carnall lust in hym.
    • 1596, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, London: William Ponsonbie, Book 4, Canto 5, p. 75,[2]
      And fast beside a little brooke did pas
      Of muddie water, that like puddle stanke,
      By which few crooked sallowes grew in ranke:
    • 1719, Daniel Defoe, The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, London: W. Taylor, pp. 125-126,[3]
      [] it came into my Mind, That the Twigs of that Tree from whence I cut my Stakes that grew, might possibly be as tough as the Sallows, and Willows, and Osiers in England []
    • 1819, John 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;
    • 1914, D. H. Lawrence, “The Shades of Spring” in The Prussian Officer and Other Stories, London: Duckworth, p. 158,[4]
      Now, everything irritated him: the two sallows, one all gold and perfume and murmur, one silver-green and bristly, reminded him, that here he had taught her about pollination.
  2. A willow twig or branch.
    • c. 1390s, Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales, The Wife of Bath’s Prologue, lines 655-658,[5]
      Who-so that buildeth his hous al of salwes,
      And priketh his blinde hors over the falwes,
      And suffreth his wyf to go seken halwes,
      Is worthy to been hanged on the galwes!
    • 1564, William Bullein, A Dialogue Bothe Pleasaunte and Pietifull Wherein Is a Goodly Regimente against the Feuer Pestilence with a Consolacion and Comfort against Death, London: John Kingston, [p. 22b],[6]
      [] set Sallowes about the bedde, besprinkled with vineger and rose water.
    • 1767, Francis Fawkes (translator), The Idylliums of Theocritus, London, for the author, Idyllium 16, p. 156,[7]
      For lo! their spears the Syracusians wield,
      And bend the pliant sallow to a shield:
    • 1822, Maria Edgeworth, Frank: A Sequel to Frank in Early Lessons, Cambridge, Volume I, p. 111,[8]
      He stuck a number of sallows in a circle, at equal distances, in the grass; the circle was the size which he wished the basket to be. He then began to weave other sallows between these, in a manner which Frank easily learned to imitate []
    • 1867, Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The Adirondacs” in May-Day, and Other Pieces, Boston: Ticknor & Fields; p. 49,[9]
      The sallow knows the basketmaker’s thumb;
      The oar, the guide’s.
Derived terms[edit]