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Colour words in many languages

The eleven colour words on this page have been indentified in various studies as the most common across most languages, although the actual colours represented by each of the colour words are not nescessarily exactly the same. For example, in Greek and Russian there are two words for blue corresponding to light blue and dark blue, and these colours are considered and perceived as separate. In other languages there are overlaps between blue, green and grey, or red, orange and brown.

The first six colours (black, white, red, yellow, blue, green) are most common, and the second five (brown, pink, orange, grey and purple) are not as common across languages.

Key to abbreviations: dk = dark, lt = light, m- = medium, lv = living things, mm = man-made things, m = masculine, f = feminine, n = neuter, c = common gender, pl = plural

You can find more colour words and notes on colours in individual languages by clicking on the language names that are links.

                       
Abaza квайчӀва шкӀвакӀва къапщы гӀвашь йчӀыхву
чӀыхь
хӀвыхӀвчва
йачӀва
удзышва
гӀвабджя чвапщ къапщыра
гӀачвыцӀххуа
гӀаважь
гӀвабджя чӀыхв
йачӀва
лилова
Abenaki mkazawi wôbi mkui wizôwi wlôwi askaskui wdamôôbame wibgui minôbowi
Acehnese braʔa iǰu pirã iǰu prãna prãna
Achuar-Shiwiar šuwín puhu kapántin yaŋkú wiŋkiá samék
Achumawi hookíci tiwici taxtaxi makmaki samtal misuqadi
Adyghe шӀуцӀэ фыжьы плъыжьы гъожьы шхъуантӀэ уцышъо хьаплъы шэплъы гъожьы- шэплъ ежьашъо,
шъо
шхъуантӀэ
Afrikaans swart blank
wit
rooi geel blou groen bruin
donker
pienk
ligrooi
oranje grys
vergrys
purper
Aguacatec q̣eq saq kyaq q̣an č̣aʔs č̣aʔs
Aguaruna bukúsea čamig kapantu yagkú wigka samékbau
Akhvakh бачӀидабе дашидабе гьиридабе тӀигьолӀи хвашуралӀи жомолӀибе хӀарилӀикьерели зих̄адабе
х̄олабе
щакъилӀикьерёлӀи
Alabama locha hatka homma laana okchakko okchakko laana istokhatka
Albanian i zi
e zezë
i/e bardhë i kuq
e kuqe
i/e verdhë blu
i/e kaltër
bojë qielli
i/e gjelbër
i/e blertë
jeshil/jeshile
kafe rozë portokalle [f]
portokall [m]
i/e hirtë
gri
ngjyrë hiri
vjollcë
Aleut (Western) qaxchikdax̂ quhmax̂ uluudakux̂ chumnugix̂ chidĝix̂ chidĝaayux̂
Amarakaeri wasik waˀereg wabed waey   wabura
Amharic ጥቁር
(ṭɛqur)
ነጭ
(nɛč̣č̣)
ቀይ
(qɛyy)
ቢጫ
(beč̣a)
ሰማያዊ
(ṭɛqur semayawi)
አርንጓዴ
(arɛngwade)
ቡና አይነት
(bunaa 'ayenate)
ሮዝ
(roze)
ብርቱካን አይነት
(beretukaane 'ayenate)
ግራጫ
(geraachaa)
ሐምራዊ
(hhameraawi)
Andi beč̣edir hac̣a hiri čakːu xoči ḳodoḷiboso
Arabic أسود
(aswad)
أبيض
(abyadh)
أحمر
(ahhmar)
أصفر
(assfar)
أزرق
(azraq)
أخضر
(akh-dhar)
بنّي
(bonniy)
وردي - زهريّ
(wardiy / zahriy)
برتقالي
(burtuqaaliy)
رمادي
(ramaadiy)
بنفسجيّ
(banafsajiy)
Armenian
(Eastern)
սէւ
(sev)
սպիտակ
(spitak)
կարմիր
(karmir)
դեղին
(deghin)
երկնագույն
(yerknagwyn)
կապույտ
(kapwyt) dk
կանաչ
(kanach)
դարչնագույն
(shaganakagwyn)
վարդագույն
(vardagwyn)
նարինջագույն
(narinjagwyn)
մոխրագույն
(mokhragwyn)
ալ կարմիր
(al karmir)
                       
Armenian
(Western)
սէւ
(sev)
սպիտակ
(sbidag)
կարմիր
(garmir)
դեղին
(teghin)
երկնագւյն
(yergnakwhn)
կապույտ
(gabwyd) dk
կանաչ
(ganach)
դարչնագույն
(darshnakwyn)
վարդագույն
(vartagwyn)
նարինջագույն
(narinjakwyn)
մոխրագույն
(mokhragwyn)
ալ կարմիր
(al garmir)
Aromanian negru albu aroş galbin murnu vearde cafiringhie
Ashaninka poʦitari kitamarori poʦonaitaki kiteriri kisari kenaši
Assamese কলিযা
(koliya)
বগা
(boga)
লহিত্
(lohit)
হালধিযা
(halodhiya)
নীলা
(nila)
সেুজিযা
(xeujiya)
মুগা
(muga)
গুলপীয়া
(gulopiya)
কমলা
(komola)
বেঙুনীয়া
(benguniyaa)
Asturian prietu blancu bermeyu mariellu azul verde marrón rosa naranxa buxu purple
Atayal makálux malávuʔ matanah magasúluʔ magaẓáguʔ magaẓáguʔ
Aukan baaka weti lebi donu baaw guun
Aymara čˀiyara xanḳˀu čupika ḳˀilʸu larama čˀuχɲa ch'umpi anti churi ch'ixi kulli
Ayoreo uta’ta-i ‘pororo-i kara-‘taai ‘sarẽ maaŋnataai ‘sarẽ
Azeribaijani qara qɪrmɪzɪ sarɪ göy yaşɪl qəhvəyi çəhrayɪ narıncı boz tünd qırmızı

Many of the colours in this section were contributed by Victor Palermo. You can also download Victor's PDF of those colours (1.5MB), and a PDF of this page (4.7MB)

If you would like to make any corrections or additions to this page, or if you can provide recordings, please contact me.

It would be interesting if you could also indicate:

  • Which of the colour words are most commonly used
  • Whether any of them represent different colours than the English words
  • Whether any of them have special signicance in your culture, e.g. white for weddings and purity, green for envy, yellow for cowardice, etc.
  • Any interesting proverbs, sayings or other idiomatic expressions involving colours you know in your language(s).

Links

Lists of colours
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_colors

Research on colour words
http://www.putlearningfirst.com/language/research/colour_words.html

The colour of words
http://www.worldwidewords.org/articles/colour.htm

Colour idioms in different language
http://www.starchamber.com/colors/color-idioms.html

Japanese colours
http://nihongoup.com/blog/japanese-color-names/

Multilingual pages

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