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Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle English tawne, from Anglo-Norman tawné, from Old French tané (tanned), past participle of taner (to tan), from Medieval Latin tannāre (to tan, dye a tawny color), from Late Latin tannum (crushed oak bark used in tanning leather)—whence cf. Old French tan (tanbark). Probably from a Celtic source, perhaps via Gaulish tanno (holm oak), from Proto-Celtic *tanno- (green oak), of uncertain further origin.[1] Compare Breton tann, Old Irish caerthann (rowan).


  • enPR: tôʹnē, IPA(key): /ˈtɔː.ni/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɔːni


tawny (comparative tawnier, superlative tawniest)

  1. Of a light brown to brownish orange color.
    Synonym: fulvous
    • 1865, Henry David Thoreau, Cape Cod, Chapter I. "The Shipwreck", page 14:
      There were the tawny rocks, like lions couchant, defying the ocean, whose waves incessantly dashed against and scoured them with vast quantities of gravel.
    • 1906 August, Alfred Noyes, “The Highwayman”, in Poems, New York, N.Y.: The Macmillan Company; London: Macmillan & Co., published October 1906, OCLC 28569419, part 2, stanza I, pages 48–49:
      He did not come in the dawning; he did not come at noon; / And out o' the tawny sunset, before the rise o' the moon, / When the road was a gypsy's ribbon, looping the purple moor, / A red-coat troop came marching— / Marching—marching— / King George's men came marching, up to the old inn-door.
    • 1908 October, Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows, New York, N.Y.: Charles Scribner’s Sons, OCLC 305520:
      They fell a-twittering among themselves once more, and this time their intoxicating babble was of violet seas, tawny sands, and lizard-haunted walls.
    • 1982, “I Ran (So Far Away)”, performed by A Flock of Seagulls:
      I never thought I'd meet a girl like you / With auburn hair and tawny eyes

Related terms[edit]



tawny (plural tawnies)

  1. (color) A light brown to brownish orange colour.
  2. A sweet, fortified wine which is blended and matured in wood.
    • 2008, Lettie Teague, Educating Peter, Simon and Schuster, →ISBN, page 110:
      A ten-year-old tawny is a good place to start with a tawny port novice, who might otherwise be put off by the oxidized flavors (i.e., more wood and earth notes than fruit) that come with a very old tawny.

Derived terms[edit]



  1. ^ Matasović, Ranko (2009), “*tanno-”, in Etymological Dictionary of Proto-Celtic (Leiden Indo-European Etymological Dictionary Series; 9), Leiden: Brill, →ISBN, page 369

Further reading[edit]