Sallow means unhealthy in appearance — often yellow in color — and is almost invariably used to describe someone's complexion. His smile was as engaging as ever, but from his sallow complexion, I knew he was sick.

Usually we say that when someone is sick they turn "green." You could also say their skin takes on a sallow look, and you'd mean the same thing. Sallow also describes the way someone looks if they have lost blood or are pale from fever. This word comes from Germanic roots meaning "dusky" or "dirty."

Definitions of sallow
  1. adjective
    unhealthy looking
    synonyms: sickly
    not in or exhibiting good health in body or mind
  2. verb
    cause to become sallow
    “The illness has sallowed her face”
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    type of:
    discolor, discolour
    cause to lose or change color
  3. noun
    any of several Old World shrubby broad-leaved willows having large catkins; some are important sources for tanbark and charcoal
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    Salix caprea, florist's willow, goat willow, pussy willow
    much-branched Old World willow having large catkins and relatively large broad leaves
    type of:
    willow, willow tree
    any of numerous deciduous trees and shrubs of the genus Salix
Word Family
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