Paint colours

Last week I looked at quite a few paint colours, trying to decide which ones to use in my house, and found the names given to the different colours interesting.

As there are so many different colours, paint manufacturers use various whys to describe them.

Whites, for example, come in many shades, including:

  • Pure Brilliant White, Strong White, All White, Great White, Just White, Aged White, Stone White, Milk White, Cream White, House White, Lime White, Off-White, and so on

Some paints have more imaginative names, such as:

  • Whites: Tallow, String, Slipper Satin, Cupcake, Piglet, Mittens, Straw, Seagull, Fresh Air and Cupboard Love
  • Pinks and Reds: Tutu, Lucy’s Scarf, Pink-a-boo and Riding Hood
  • Oranges, Yellows and Browns: Flower Pot, Humpty Dumpty, Freckle, Cocoa Pod and Muddy Boots
  • Blues and Greens: Polka Dot, Milk Jug, Teacup, Bandstand, Whisper of Dramatic, Urban Obsession and Cricket

Some of the colours in the Earth Born paint range

What I’ve found is that the same name might be used from different colours. For example, straw is a creamy colour from one paint company, and an orangey-brown colour from another.

I’ve chosen a colour called warm blue for my bedroom, water, a lighter blue, for my music room (the spare bedroom), and buttermilk, a lightish yellow, for my bathroom. The rest of the house is painted magnolia, a kind of creamy-white colour.

Do paint colours have interesting names in other languages?

This entry was posted in English, Language, Words and phrases.

9 Responses to Paint colours

  1. Andrew says:

    I don’t know but I can’t stand what English has done recently with colors, describing them with terms like “Periwinkle blue” (props if you know where I got that from 😉 ) and “mocha” and such. Just say “light blue” or “brown”, geez.


  2. jdotjdot89 says:

    I agree, frankly I just find it easier to refer to colors by RGB or CMYK numbers. (Though then again, I’m a graphic designer, so it makes sense–I’m sure the average person isn’t going to ask for his wallpaper in 255,255,0.)

  3. TJ says:

    well RGB or CMYK is way too technical… I mean people in the know might know what you’re talking about, but regular customers who simply want their rooms painted, well refer to, mostly, local known names.

    The creamy white I think is what we call here Sugary white (or they are different?). But, no green?
    Colors of the rooms does indeed affect the mood and the health, and in my own experience I can tell that blue, specially a dark tone, is not good on a long term, so maybe it would be better to lessen the effect by mixing it with another color. The lighter, the merrier, usually.

    Go ahead and surf for “color therapy” I think it would be very helpful. My room is bright green, and by coincidence I’ve found a webpage about color therapy on the net saying that the green (as it is a color in the middle of the spectrum) is used to heal or enhance allergies. I can swear that my chronic allergy is almost gone by now. I had it since I was in highschool until I graduated from college, and I get in every equinox (spring, fall). Now, I get nothing!

    Too much blue they say might make you indeed “blue” and might cause you to loose appetite, so I heard and read once!
    Good luckies!

  4. Drabkikker says:

    I haven’t read it yet, but a work of interest here might be Guy Deutscher’s latest book Through the Language Glass, where he discusses the influences of color perception on language, and v.v.

  5. fiosachd says:

    English: Latin
    red, gules: ruber, rubens, rubicund(ul)us, russus
    crimson (deep red inclining to purple): coccineus
    scarlet (brilliant red tinged with orange): coccinus
    vermilion, cinnabar (brilliant red): miniat(ul)us
    orange: flavus, lute(ol)us, croceus
    yellow: luteus, croceus
    gold(en), or: flavus
    green, vert: viridis, prasinus
    blue: cæruleus
    cerulean (deep blue): cæruleus, lividus
    indigo (between blue & violet): cæruleus
    violet (bluish-purple): purpureus
    purple, purpure: purpureus, conchyliatus
    pink: roseus
    rose (light crimson or pink): roseus
    brown (dark chestnut): fuscus
    puce (dark red or purple-brown): rubidus
    auburn (reddish-brown): fulvus
    sandy (yellowish-red): ruf(ul)us, rutilus
    chestnut (reddish-brown or yellowish brown): flavus
    black, sable: niger, ater
    white: albus, candidus
    grey: canus, albus, glaucus

  6. Yenlit says:

    I have heard ‘magnolia’ restyled as ‘Victorian Pink’ – ubiquitous magnolia colour paint (RGB 248, 244, 255 to you jdotjdot89!) being the standard default colour of new houses and rental property due to its neutral colour which you can buy in bulk in DIY and paint shops in the UK.
    Also I remember wasn’t there a colour named after the British actor Hugh Grant – the colour being ‘insipid green’?

  7. jdotjdot89 says:

    @Yenlit hahaha thanks.

    @Everyone else
    For those really interested in colors and looking for a good novel, I’m currently reading Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde–excellent, and you’ll get your fill of color-related language jokes.

  8. Umbrella says:

    I love the imaginative way language describes colors but if I want to choose a specific color then the hex numbers work best for me. I get a rush just from looking at a brand new crayon box with all the colors lined up. I don’t know why that is.

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