var·​ie·​gat·​ed ˈver-ē-ə-ˌgā-təd How to pronounce variegated (audio)
: having discrete markings of different colors
variegated leaves

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The Colorful History of Variegated

Variegated has been adding color to our language since the 17th century. It is used in botany to describe the presence of two or more colors in the leaves, petals, or other parts of plants, and it also appears in the names of some animals (such as the variegated cutworm). It can be used by the general speaker to refer to anything marked with different colors ("a variegated silk robe," for instance) or to things that are simply various and diverse ("a variegated collection"). Variegated has a variety of relatives in English—it is ultimately derived from the Latin root varius, meaning "varied," which also gave us vary, various, and variety.

Example Sentences

the variegated costumes of the dancers in the nightclub a variety of variegated tulip that is highly prized by gardeners
Recent Examples on the Web The variegated subway tile backsplash features earth tones that draw the cabinets, woodwork, and hardwood floor into a harmonious whole. Marisa Donnelly, Better Homes & Gardens, 20 Sep. 2022 It’s a variegated pepper that gets 18 to 24 inches high and 12 to 18 inches wide and is considered a mini bell pepper. Joanne Kempinger Demski, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 24 Mar. 2022 Beauty was an expression of variegated desires, not a thing. Los Angeles Times, 21 Nov. 2021 Throughout much of its history, psychiatry didn’t display a strong interest in precise and variegated definitions of mental disorders. Stephen Eide, WSJ, 15 Aug. 2021 Across from a dog park in the heart of Washington, D.C., stands a striking, multicolored mural, in which two women reach for each other across a space teeming with variegated particles. Meredith Wadman, Science | AAAS, 24 June 2021 Between city and country lies a more variegated landscape of intermediates. Nikil Saval, The New Republic, 26 Oct. 2020 Bill Buford has had a storied and variegated career, a mix of high and low and sensitive and almost macho — a career that has twisted gently, like a flamed citrus peel destined for a Negroni. Dwight Garner, New York Times, 25 May 2020 Place these plants in a hanging basket or on a shelf to show off the variegated colors. Jessica Bennett, Better Homes & Gardens, 14 May 2020 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'variegated.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


from past participle of variegate

First Known Use

1615, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of variegated was in 1615


Dictionary Entries Near variegated

Cite this Entry

“Variegated.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition



: having patches, stripes, or marks of different colors
variegated flowers
: full of variety
a variegated career

More from Merriam-Webster on variegated

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