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Palate, Palette, and Pallet

Commonly Confused Words


The noun palate refers to the roof of the mouth or the sense of taste. The noun palette refers to an artist's paint board or a range of colors. The noun pallet is a straw-filled mattress or a hard bed.


  • Egypt's senior archaeologist recently discovered that King Tutankhamen was born with a cleft palate and a clubfoot.

  • Walt Disney's Pinocchio paraded the studio's early perfection of the cartoon form: subtle character delineation, a rich color palette, and an inside knowledge of boyhood traumas.

  • In one of the more lurid fairy tales, ogres chop off the legs and arms of a woman to make her body fit a pallet.

  • "Percy Painter, a promising but penniless portraitist, might possibly profit were he to pick up, perhaps procure, (1) a plentiful patron with a palate for portraiture, (2) a palette with pigments properly primed, and (3) a pretty person pleasingly prepared to pose pleasantly on his paltry pallet."
    (Robert Oliver Shipman, A Pun My Word: A Humorously Enlightened Path to English Usage. Rowman & Littlefield, 1991)


(a) The patient was forced to sleep in a hollowed-out slab of concrete and a _____ in a small barricaded ward.

(b) Ultimately it's the human _____ that determines whether a wine is worth drinking.

(c) With a _____ of around 17 million colors at their fingertips, today's computer artists have virtually no limits to their basic materials.

Answers to Practice Exercises

Glossary of Usage: Index of Commonly Confused Words

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