Ask Difference

Pale vs. Pail — What's the Difference?

Edited by Tayyaba Rehman — By Fiza Rafique — Updated on September 30, 2023
"Pale" refers to a light shade or color, or lacking intensity. "Pail" is a bucket-like container. They are homophones but differ in meaning and use.
Pale vs. Pail — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Pale and Pail

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Key Differences

"Pale" and "Pail" are classic examples of homophones in English, words that sound alike but have different meanings. "Pale" typically denotes a lack of intensity in color or complexion. On the other hand, "pail" is a tangible object, referring to a cylindrical container, much like a bucket.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 30, 2023
When someone mentions a "pale complexion," they're referring to skin that lacks color, perhaps due to illness or fear. Conversely, if someone talks about fetching water in a "pail," they're discussing using a specific kind of container to carry the liquid.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 30, 2023
The word "pale" extends beyond just describing color. It can indicate anything lacking vibrancy or intensity. For instance, a "pale imitation" suggests a replica that doesn't quite capture the essence of the original. In contrast, "pail" remains quite specific in its definition, not often straying from its bucket-like connotation.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 30, 2023

Comparison Chart

General Usage

Refers to light shade or lacking intensity
A bucket-like container
Fiza Rafique
Sep 30, 2023

Part of Speech

Adjective (often)
Noun
Fiza Rafique
Sep 30, 2023
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Extended Meanings

Can mean lacking vibrancy or a boundary
Mostly fixed to its container sense
Fiza Rafique
Sep 30, 2023

Pronunciation

/peɪl/
/peɪl/
Fiza Rafique
Sep 30, 2023

Etymology

From Old French "pale" (light-colored)
From Old French "paelle" (pan, dish)
Fiza Rafique
Sep 30, 2023

Compare with Definitions

Pale

Lacking intensity in color.
Her face turned pale with fright.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 30, 2023

Pail

A receptacle for carrying items.
She filled the pail with fresh fruit.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 30, 2023

Pale

Light in colour or shade; containing little colour or pigment
Choose pale floral patterns for walls
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pail

A quantity that fills a pail.
He drank a pail of milk.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 30, 2023

Pale

Inferior or unimpressive
The new cheese is a pale imitation of continental cheeses
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pail

A cylindrical container with a handle.
She carried a pail of water from the well.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 30, 2023

Pale

Become pale in one's face from shock or fear
I paled at the thought of what she might say
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pail

A vessel of similar shape.
The pail was made of durable plastic.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 30, 2023

Pale

Seem or become less important
All else pales by comparison
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pail

A watertight cylindrical vessel, open at the top and fitted with a handle; a bucket.
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pale

A wooden stake or post used with others to form a fence.
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pail

The amount that a pail can hold.
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pale

An area within determined bounds, or subject to a particular jurisdiction.
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pail

A vessel of wood, tin, plastic, etc., usually cylindrical and having a handle -- used especially for carrying liquids, for example water or milk; a bucket (sometimes with a cover).
The milkmaid carried a pail of milk in each hand.
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pale

A broad vertical stripe down the middle of a shield.
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pail

(In technical use) A closed (covered) cylindrical shipping container.
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pale

A stake or pointed stick; a picket.
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pail

A vessel of wood or tin, etc., usually cylindrical and having a bail, - used esp. for carrying liquids, as water or milk, etc.; a bucket. It may, or may not, have a cover.
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pale

A fence enclosing an area.
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pail

A roughly cylindrical that is vessel open at the top
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pale

The area enclosed by a fence or boundary.
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pail

The quantity contained in a pail
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pale

A region or district lying within an imposed boundary or constituting a separate jurisdiction.
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pail

A bucket-like container.
He dropped the coin in the pail.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 30, 2023

Pale

Pale The medieval dominions of the English in Ireland. Used with the.
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pale

(Heraldry) A wide vertical band in the center of an escutcheon.
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pale

To enclose with pales; fence in.
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pale

To cause to turn pale.
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pale

To become pale; blanch
Paled with fright.
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pale

To decrease in relative importance.
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pale

Whitish in complexion; pallid.
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pale

Of a low intensity of color; light.
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pale

Having high lightness and low saturation.
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pale

Of a low intensity of light; dim or faint
"a late afternoon sun coming through the el tracks and falling in pale oblongs on the cracked, empty sidewalks" (Jimmy Breslin).
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pale

Feeble; weak
A pale rendition of the aria.
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pale

Light in color.
I have pale yellow wallpaper.
She had pale skin because she didn't get much sunlight.
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pale

(of human skin) Having a pallor (a light color, especially due to sickness, shock, fright etc.).
His face turned pale after hearing about his mother's death.
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pale

Feeble, faint.
He is but a pale shadow of his former self.
The son's clumsy paintings are a pale imitation of his father's.
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pale

(intransitive) To turn pale; to lose colour.
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pale

(intransitive) To become insignificant.
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pale

(transitive) To make pale; to diminish the brightness of.
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pale

To enclose with pales, or as if with pales; to encircle or encompass; to fence off.
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pale

(obsolete) Paleness; pallor.
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pale

A wooden stake; a picket.
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pale

(archaic) Fence made from wooden stake; palisade.
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pale

(by extension) Limits, bounds (especially before of).
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pale

The bounds of morality, good behaviour or judgment in civilized company, in the phrase beyond the pale.
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pale

(heraldry) A vertical band down the middle of a shield.
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pale

(archaic) A territory or defensive area within a specific boundary or under a given jurisdiction.
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pale

(historical) The parts of Ireland under English jurisdiction.
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pale

(historical) The territory around Calais under English control (from the 14th to 16th centuries).
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pale

(historical) A portion of Russia in which Jews were permitted to live.
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pale

(archaic) The jurisdiction (territorial or otherwise) of an authority.
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pale

A cheese scoop.
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pale

Wanting in color; not ruddy; dusky white; pallid; wan; as, a pale face; a pale red; a pale blue.
Speechless he stood and pale.
They are not of complexion red or pale.
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pale

Not bright or brilliant; of a faint luster or hue; dim; as, the pale light of the moon.
The night, methinks, is but the daylight sick;It looks a little paler.
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pale

Paleness; pallor.
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pale

A pointed stake or slat, either driven into the ground, or fastened to a rail at the top and bottom, for fencing or inclosing; a picket.
Deer creep through when a pale tumbles down.
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pale

That which incloses or fences in; a boundary; a limit; a fence; a palisade.
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pale

A space or field having bounds or limits; a limited region or place; an inclosure; - often used figuratively.
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pale

A region within specified bounds, whether or not enclosed or demarcated.
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pale

A stripe or band, as on a garment.
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pale

One of the greater ordinaries, being a broad perpendicular stripe in an escutcheon, equally distant from the two edges, and occupying one third of it.
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pale

A cheese scoop.
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pale

A shore for bracing a timber before it is fastened.
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pale

To turn pale; to lose color or luster.
Apt to pale at a trodden worm.
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pale

To make pale; to diminish the brightness of.
The glowworm shows the matin to be near,And 'gins to pale his uneffectual fire.
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pale

To inclose with pales, or as with pales; to encircle; to encompass; to fence off.
[Your isle, which stands] ribbed and paled inWith rocks unscalable and roaring waters.
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pale

A wooden strip forming part of a fence
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pale

Turn pale, as if in fear
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pale

Very light colored; highly diluted with white;
Pale seagreen
Pale blue eyes
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pale

(of light) lacking in intensity or brightness; dim or feeble;
The pale light of a half moon
A pale sun
The late afternoon light coming through the el tracks fell in pale oblongs on the street
A pallid sky
The pale (or wan) stars
The wan light of dawn
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pale

Lacking in vitality or interest or effectiveness;
A pale rendition of the aria
Pale prose with the faint sweetness of lavender
A pallid performance
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pale

Abnormally deficient in color as suggesting physical or emotional distress;
The pallid face of the invalid
Her wan face suddenly flushed
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pale

Not full or rich;
High, pale, pure and lovely song
Fiza Rafique
May 06, 2019

Pale

Feeble or weak.
The light was too pale to read by.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 30, 2023

Pale

Not vigorous or hearty.
A pale rendition of the original song.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 30, 2023

Pale

A boundary or limit.
He went beyond the pale of acceptable behavior.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 30, 2023

Pale

Light in color or shade.
She chose a pale blue dress.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 30, 2023

Common Curiosities

Are "Pale" and "Pail" spelled the same?

No, "Pale" relates to color while "Pail" is a container.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 30, 2023

Can "Pale" describe someone's health?

Yes, a "pale complexion" can suggest illness or fear.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 30, 2023

Can "Pale" describe light?

Yes, "pale light" means light that is weak or dim.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 30, 2023

Is "Pail" synonymous with "bucket"?

Yes, a "pail" is essentially a type of bucket.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 30, 2023

What's the primary use of a "Pail"?

It's typically used to hold or carry liquids.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 30, 2023

Does "Pale" always relate to color?

Most often, but it can also indicate boundaries or lacking intensity.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 30, 2023

Can I say, "He brought a pail of sand"?

Yes, a "pail" can hold various materials, not just liquids.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 30, 2023

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at AskDifference.com, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to askdifference.com. As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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