To dapple is to dot with blotches of color or light, the way sunlight dapples the leaves of trees in the summertime.

You can use dapple as a verb or a noun: "I saw a dapple of yellow paint on the floor after I finished painting my bedroom wall." Writers often describe the way sunshine and moonlight dapple things, forming irregular spots and patches. Sometimes animal fur or skin is described as dappled, or a color such as dapple-gray, an adjective which—strangely enough—was originally apple-gray.

Definitions of dapple

n a small contrasting part of something

fleck, maculation, patch, speckle, spot
show 16 types...
hide 16 types...
pinpoint, speck
a very small spot
(pathology) a faint cloudy spot on the cornea
a patch of bright color
fret, worn spot
a spot that has been worn away by abrasion or erosion
(pathology) a small abnormal patch on or inside the body
macula, macule
a patch of skin that is discolored but not usually elevated; caused by various diseases
mock sun, parhelion, sundog
a bright spot on the parhelic circle; caused by diffraction by ice crystals
macula, sunspot
a cooler darker spot appearing periodically on the sun's photosphere; associated with a strong magnetic field
a large bright spot on the sun's photosphere occurring most frequently in the vicinity of sunspots
a bright spot on a planet
amyloid plaque, amyloid protein plaque
a plaque consisting of tangles of amyloid protein in nervous tissue (a pathological mark of Alzheimer's disease)
arterial plaque
a fatty deposit inside an arterial wall; characteristic of atherosclerosis
bacterial plaque, dental plaque
a film of mucus and bacteria deposited on the teeth that encourages the development of dental caries
freckle, lentigo
a small brownish spot (of the pigment melanin) on the skin
liver spot
a type of skin disease that causes brown spots on the skin
plague spot
a spot on the skin characteristic of the plague
Type of:
a pattern of marks

v color with streaks or blotches of different shades

cloud, mottle
variegate with spots or marks
speckle, stipple
produce a mottled effect
Type of:
mark with a spot or spots so as to allow easy recognition

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, Vocabulary.com can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.