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Colour words in Japanese

Words for colours in Japanese with notes on their etymology and usage.


black 黒 / 黒い (kuro / kuroi) / ブラック (burakku)

Shades of black and black-related expressions

  • 墨色 (sumi-iro) - ink black
  • 濡れ羽色 (mureba-iro) - jet black
  • 黒黒 / 黒々 (kuroguro) - deep black
  • 真っ黒 / 真黒 (makkuro) - pitch black
  • 烏羽色 (karasuba-iro) - glossy black
  • 闇商人 (yamishōnin) - black marketeer
  • 珍中の珍 (chinchū no chin - rarity; black swan
  • 焼け野の鴉 (yakenonokarasu) - blacker than black

white 白 / 白い (shiro / shiroi) - white; good guy; 'white hat'

Shades of white and white-related expressions

  • 白湯 (sayu) - hot/boiled water
  • 白紙 (hakushi) - blank/white paper
  • 真白 (mashiro - pure white
  • 象牙色 (zōge-iro) - ivory-white

red 赤 / 赤い (aka / akai); 丹色 (ni-iro)

Shades of red and red-related expressions

  • 暗紅色/暗赤色 (ankōshoku) - dark red
  • 浅紅 (senkō) / 薄肉 (usuniku)) - light red
  • 紅梅色 (kōbai-iro) - red plum coloured
  • 桜色 (sakura-iro) - cherry blossom coloured
  • 桃色 (momo-iro) - peach-coloured
  • 紅海 (kōkai) - Red Sea
  • 赤熱 (sekinetsu) - red hot

yellow 黄色 (ki-iro / ōshoku / kōshoku) - yellow; amber

Shades of yellow and yellow-related expressions

  • 浅黄 (asagi) / 桑色 (kuwa-iro) - light yellow
  • 黄鉛 (ōen / kōen) - chrome yellow
  • 黄枯茶 (kigarachya) - bluish yellow
  • 朽ち葉色 (kuchiba-iro) - yellow-brown
  • 黄海 (kōkai) - Yellow Sea

blue green 青 / 青色 (ao / ao-iro) - blue/green / ブリュ (buryu) - blue

Shades of blue and blue-related expressions

  • 水色 (mizudori) - light blue (water colour)
  • 濃紺 (nōkon) - dark blue
  • 紺色 (kon-iro) - deep blue
  • 紺青 (konshō) - navy blue
  • 空色 (sora-iro) - sky-blue
  • 碧眼 (hekigan) - blue eyes

green (midori) - green

Shades of green and green-related expressions

  • 碧色 (hekishoku) - green; emerald
  • 黄緑 (kimidori) / 浅緑 (asamidori) - light green
  • 草色 (kuchi-iro) / 暗緑 (hisui-iro) - dark green

brown 茶色 (chairo) / 褐色 (kasshoku) - brown

Shades of brown

  • 黒茶色 (kurocha-iro) - deep brown
  • 暗褐色 (ankashoku) / 濃褐色 (n) - dark brown
  • 狐色 (kitsune-iro) 淡褐色 (tankasshoku) - light brown

pink 桃色 (momoiro) / 淡紅色 (tankōshoku) / ピンク - pink

Shades of pink and pink-related expressions

  • 濃桃 (nōtō) - deep pink
  • 褪紅 (taikō) - light pink

orange 橙色 (daidaiiro) / オレンジ (orenji) - orange


grey 灰色 (haiiro) / 鼠色 (muzumi-iro) - grey


purple (murasaki) / パープル (pūpuru) - purple

Shades of purple and purple-related expressions

  • 濃紫 (komurasaki) - dark purple
  • 浅紫 (achimurasaki) - light purple

Links

Japanese colour names
http://nihongoup.com/blog/japanese-color-names/
http://www.demoivre.org/Japan/textiles/colors/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traditional_colors_of_Japan
http://wafuku.wordpress.com/tag/japanese-color-names/

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