Results 1 to 7 of 7
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Posts
    196
    Post Thanks / Like

    are pale and fair synonyms?

    Hi there,

    If I say: She's got a pale complexion and She's got a fair complexion, is the meaning the same?

    thanks

  2. #2
    Anglika is offline No Longer With Us
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    19,448
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: are pale and fair synonyms?

    No.

    A pale complexion carries an implication of ill health - the person lacks colour in their skin and appears very white.

    A fair complexion is a skin with a low degree of melatonin, so the blood circulating colours the skin with a tinge of pink. It usually goes with blonde hair.

  3. #3
    stuartnz's Avatar
    stuartnz is offline Senior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Other
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • New Zealand
      • Current Location:
      • New Zealand
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    1,370
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: are pale and fair synonyms?

    Quote Originally Posted by forum_mail View Post
    Hi there,

    If I say: She's got a pale complexion and She's got a fair complexion, is the meaning the same?

    thanks

    I'm not a teacher, but I would say that while they are similar in meaning, they carry different connotations. A pale complexion could be taken negatively, to refer to someone who looks washed-out, or ill. A fair complexion would often be understood to be more of a compliment. If someone is unwell, they will likely hear: "You're looking pale, are you OK?" In that context, I would say that no native speaker would say ""You're looking fair, are you OK?" Similarly, in the fairy story, The wicked Queen asks her mirror: "Who's the fairest of them all?" She would NOT ask "Who's the palest (or most pale) of them all?"

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    5,425
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: are pale and fair synonyms?

    No.
    'pale' means ' light in colour' or 'having little colour'
    When referring to someone's face, we are meaning that they have less colour in their face than usual, and are intimating they may not be well; or because they have had a shock, or are pale with fear.

  5. #5
    vil is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Bulgarian
      • Home Country:
      • Bulgaria
      • Current Location:
      • Bulgaria
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    5,000
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: are pale and fair synonyms?

    Hi forum_mail,

    I am in a state of uncertainty. On the one hand I know many different synonyms of pale. On the other hand I know a few interpretations of the expressions in question. I sympathize with the stuartnz’s statement regarding the negative and positive meaning of the connotations in question, but there are some more examples bellow which flatly contradict them.

    pale (adj.) = anaemic, ashen, bleached, chalky, colourless, dim, faded, faint, feeble, light, lily-livered, pallid, pasty, poor, sallow, thin, wan, washed-out, weak, white, white-livered.

    Zheng was from Suzhou, Zhexi. He was born with a pale complexion and had long beard, a lean body, and broad shoulders. Due to his fair complexion and handsome good looks, he was nicknamed 'Fair-skinned gentleman' .

    pale (adj.) = of a light color or complexion: alabaster, fair, ivory, light

    fair-complexion = light-skinned = having little pigmentation

    Individuals with Luna well aspected at birth are tall and fair with a pale complexion, round face, grey eyes, short arms and thick hands and feet.
    Ada was a particularly striking young lady, with a pale complexion contrasted by very dark hair.
    Big, vigorous, of imposing figure, impassive face and pale complexion, with a direct and thoughtful glance …
    She was an extraordinarily attractive girl, with a pale complexion, a freckled face, and ginger hair:

    .. said to be the most beautiful girl in the whole island, with a fair complexion, blue eyes and golden-brown hair.
    Magee is 5ft 5in tall, slim, 8˝ stone, fair complexion, blue eyes with fairly short, straight receding hair.
    Broad head, broad face, fair complexion, blonde hair, blueish-grey eyes and this funny concave nose I have."
    But it was as a young cricketer, distinctive even then with his fair complexion and blond hair.

    Regards.

    V.

  6. #6
    stuartnz's Avatar
    stuartnz is offline Senior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Other
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • New Zealand
      • Current Location:
      • New Zealand
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    1,370
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: are pale and fair synonyms?

    Quote Originally Posted by vil View Post
    Hi forum_mail,

    I am in a state of uncertainty. On the one hand I know many different synonyms of pale. On the other hand I know a few interpretations of the expressions in question. I sympathize with the stuartnz’s statement regarding the negative and positive meaning of the connotations in question, but there are some more examples bellow which flatly contradict them.
    Regards.

    V.
    Absolutely. That's why I said that their meanings were similar but that they carry different connotations. I said "A pale complexion could be taken negatively" and "A fair complexion would often be ..." for just that reason. The use of "pale" in a positive way is not unheard of, but it is very much less common in most variants of English than the use of "fair" in a positive way. Does that sound fair to you? Or my answer just a pale imitation of a real one?

  7. #7
    vil is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Bulgarian
      • Home Country:
      • Bulgaria
      • Current Location:
      • Bulgaria
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    5,000
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: are pale and fair synonyms?

    Hi stuartnz,

    “Or my answer just a pale imitation of a real one?

    Quite the contrary! Your post at the present thread does not differ from the others your posts which were my favorite reading matter at the present forum. It was well sustained and as alwayes was brimming over with cultivated wittisisms. Its reading gave me an realy and truly an intelectual feast.

    I am delighted with the fact that we are practically of the same mind about the matter in question.



    Regards.

    V.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •