Difference Between Pale and Pail

Main Difference – Pale vs Pail

There are many words in the English language that sound identical, but have different meanings; they may be written with the same spellings or sometimes may have little differences in spellings. Such word pairs present a major challenge to many English learners as well as some native English speakers. Pale and pail are two such words. The main difference between pale and pail is that pale is mainly an adjective whereas pail is a noun.

Pale – Meaning and Usage

Pale is an adjective that describes a color or shade. Pale means light in color or shade. A thing is described as pale when it contains little color or color pigments. We describe a color as pale when the said color is not very bright. Pale is also used to describe a person’s complexion. A person usually becomes pale as a result of shock, fear, or illness. Pale can sometimes be used to mean inferior or unimpressive, although this is quite different from the earlier meaning.

He chose a pale yellow color for the kitchen.

She was pale skinned and as skinny as a stick.

She wore a pale blue and green floral dress.

The pale light of the dawn spread across the sky.

He is a pale imitation of his father.

Pale can also be used as a verb. Pale means to become pale in one’s complexion due to shock or fear.

He paled at the mention of police.

The little girl’s face paled, her eyes went wide with shock.

Pale also has another meaning; it can also refer to a wooden stake. An individual post in a fence is called a pale. However, this meaning is not as common as the adjectival meaning of the word.

Main Difference - Pale vs Pail

She is wearing a pale pink dress.

Pail – Meaning and Usage

Pail is a noun; it is a name of a household item. Pail is equal to a bucket. It is a cylindrical container that is opened at the top and usually has a handle. A pail is made of metal or plastic and is used to hold and carry liquids.

He collected rainwater in an old pail.

She filled the pail with water and carried it to the kitchen.

I returned the new pail to the shop because it had a hole at the bottom.

We kept the rusty pail directly below the hole in the roof.

Alice threw away the old pail with the broken handle.Difference Between Pale and Pail

Difference Between Pale and Pail

Grammatical Category

Pale is an adjective, verb and a noun.

Pail is a noun.


Pale means to become pale or light in color or shade.

Pail is a cylindrical container with an open top.


Pale is used to describe a color, shade or a complexion.

Pail is a name of a household item.Difference Between Pale and Pail - infographic

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