early 14c., from Old French paile "pale, light-colored" (12c., Modern French pâle), from Latin pallidus "pale, pallid, wan, colorless," from pallere "be pale, grow pale," from PIE root *pel- (1) "pale." Pale-face, supposed North American Indian word for "European," is attested from 1822.
From late 14c. as "fence of pointed stakes;" figurative sense of "limit, boundary, restriction" is from c. 1400. Barely surviving in beyond the pale and similar phrases. Meaning "the part of Ireland under English rule" is from 1540s, via sense of "territory held by power of a nation or people" (mid-15c.).