Meaning of coloured in English:


Pronunciation /ˈkʌləd/


(US colored)
  • 1Having a colour or colours, especially as opposed to being black, white, or neutral.

    ‘strings of coloured lights’
    • ‘brightly coloured birds are easier to see’
    • ‘a peach-coloured sofa’
    • ‘He had blond hair and was wearing a light-coloured jacket, white trousers and black shoes.’
    • ‘The answer is that it is a light-coloured animal with black stripes.’
    • ‘It is preferable to have a white or light-coloured background.’
    • ‘He wore a grey top, light-coloured trousers and white trainers with a blue stripe down the side.’
    • ‘They have formed the basis for the collection of black and white and coloured snaps, which I now possess.’
    • ‘It is best to use a light-colored preferably white background with black or very dark-colored text.’
    • ‘She had dark brown eyes that looked almost completely black in the fading light with olive-coloured skin.’
    • ‘In front of her was Cameron, leaning towards her, his black bangs falling into his light honey-coloured eyes.’
    • ‘They favor light, brightly colored clothes and are interested in the latest fashions.’
    • ‘The double bedroom has two double wardrobes and gold carpet, which complements the neutral-coloured walls.’
    • ‘But search time can be reduced if anyone seeing a goose wearing a coloured collar with black letters can report it to the laboratory.’
    • ‘Do you think he would have commanded as much respect if he had worn different coloured contact lenses, white make-up and black eye-shadow?’
    • ‘In the international pearl market, the demand is for large-sized coloured pearls of black, silvery green and green to deep purple hues.’
    • ‘One of the men was 6ft tall, with short black hair, of stocky build, and was wearing a black vest and cream-coloured shorts.’
    • ‘He had a chubby face, was wearing a black jacket and beige-coloured trousers, and witnesses estimate his age as around 30.’
    • ‘Neutral-colored paint is excellent for garden furniture, since you want to keep the attention on your colorful garden, not the furniture.’
    • ‘He could see nothing but flashes of different colored lights before everything went completely black.’
    • ‘Along the staircase, everything goes black except for a few colored lights here and there.’
    • ‘We wore flowery shirts and cheap sunglasses with round black rims and coloured lenses (Tony's blue and mine crimson).’
    • ‘Then, when this highly coloured infant wine is still only half fermented, it is poured into a large vat of cool brandy or grape spirit.’
    • ‘Many anglers like to use several highly coloured plastic beads just in front of the bait as an added attraction.’
    brightly coloured, bright-coloured, deep-coloured, brilliant, glowing, radiant, vivid, rich, vibrant
    1. 1.1Imbued with an emotive or exaggerated quality.
      ‘ highly coloured examples were used by both sides’
      • ‘His stories are highly coloured and immoderate, both sweet and sour.’
      • ‘His generally lush and highly coloured realisations of the instrumental continuo adds further dramatic weight.’
      • ‘Another highly colored phrase worked its way from my depths as I realized that such a mistake would not be easily repaired.’
      biased, prejudiced, one-sided, coloured, discriminatory, preferential, partial, interested, parti pris, bigoted, sectarian, factional, unjust, unfair, inequitable, unbalanced
  • 2

    (also Coloured)
    dated, offensive Wholly or partly of non-white descent.

  • 3South African Used as an ethnic label for people of mixed racial or ethnic origin.

    • ‘there was a drive to recruit coloured, black, and Indian members’


(US colored)
  • 1

    (also Coloured)
    dated, offensive A person who is wholly or partly of non-white descent.

  • 2South African A person of mixed descent usually speaking Afrikaans or English as their mother tongue.

    ‘the ANC was not making much progress among Indians or mixed-race Coloureds’
    • ‘‘I also worked in a motor vehicle garage as you may well know that such jobs were the preserve of coloureds,’ he remembers.’
    • ‘I am not planning to start my own party but I am looking to organise all coloureds in this province under the auspices of the ANC.’
    • ‘The result was an increasing population of coloureds, which remains today.’
    • ‘This trend was apparent particularly among coloureds and Indians, with 5% more respondents in both groups feeling this way.’
    • ‘But the study found that fewer blacks, coloureds, and Asians enrolled in education than in any other area of study.’
    • ‘Four in every ten blacks and a quarter of coloureds earned R500 or less.’
    • ‘A quality of life survey has found that 84 percent of whites, 62 percent of Asians, 55 percent of coloureds and 26 percent of Africans are satisfied with their lives in Buffalo City Municipality.’
    • ‘In Cape Town, blacks and coloureds who were driven out of a sprawling mixed-race suburb during the apartheid era recently had keys to new homes in the area given to them by Mandela.’
    • ‘But to a close-knit community not far from the city centre, Fietas was a thriving community and home to several thousands of coloureds, Malays, Indians and whites in the decades before the 1970s.’
    • ‘During Apartheid, Indian expatriates and coloureds enjoyed greater commercial rights and privileges than Africans.’
    • ‘I remember the times when coloureds and blacks used to stay as neighbours in the village before the evictions.’
    • ‘Whites started buying properties in the suburb, but soon blacks and coloureds bought properties too.’
    • ‘In poor and more run-down areas there is more racial mixing, and working-class whites, blacks and coloureds are increasingly living in the same areas.’
  • 3colouredsClothes, sheets, etc. that are any colour but white.

    ‘she wouldn't mix her whites with her coloureds on wash day’
    • ‘You can safely wash whites, coloureds, sheets, shirts and nappies in water as hot as you want it.’
    • ‘Yet just months later there's a so-called new breed of machine that will wash your whites and your coloureds at the same time, in separate drums.’
    • ‘The one thing it will not do though is separate the whites from the coloureds.’


Coloured referring to skin colour is first recorded in the early 17th century and was adopted in the US by emancipated slaves as a term of racial pride after the end of the American Civil War. In the US and Britain it was the accepted term until the 1960s, when it was superseded by black. The term coloured lost favour among black people during this period and is now widely regarded as offensive except in historical contexts and in particular as part of the name of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). In South Africa the term coloured (also written Coloured) has a different history. It is used to refer to people of mixed-race parentage rather than, as elsewhere, to refer to African peoples and their descendants (i.e. as a synonym for black). Under apartheid it was imposed as an official racial designation. However, in modern use the term is not generally considered offensive or derogatory