Something that's off-color is offensive or vulgar. Your parents might stop inviting your uncle for Thanksgiving after years of his embarrassing, off-color jokes.

You'll most often find the adjective off-color describing jokes that make some listeners laugh, but offend or disgust others. Standup comedians are frequently famous for their off-color humor, while politicians caught telling off-color stories can face serious career difficulties. Before American English adopted off-color to mean "in questionable taste," this adjective was used to describe faulty gemstones.

Definitions of off-color
  1. adjective
    in violation of good taste even verging on the indecent
    “an off-color joke”
    synonyms: indelicate, off-colour
    lacking aesthetic or social taste
  2. adjective
    humorously vulgar
    off-color jokes”
    synonyms: bawdy, ribald
    (of behavior or especially language) characterized by obscenity or indecency
Word Family

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week