Colour words in Tuvaluan

Words for colours in Tuvaluan with notes on their etymology and usage. There are four basic colour terms in Tuvaluan, black, white, red and yellow. Other colour terms are compounds based on the colours (lanu) of the natural world, or loanwords from English - indicated with an *.


black uli - black / dark


white kèna /k:ena/ - white


red kùla /k:ula/ - red


yellow sèga /s:enga/ - yellow


blue lanu moana (colour of the ocean) - dark blue
pulú* /pulu:/ - blue


green lanu launiu (colour of the coconut leaf) - green
kulini* - green


orange ólenisi* /o:lenisi/ - orange


grey kulei* - grey


violet violeti* - violet


khaki kákí* /ka:ki:/ - khaki


Tuvaluan colour expression

  • póuliuli = (mental) darkness, paganism, referring to the pre-Christian period in Tuvaluan history
  • nofo fakapóuliuli = to live together in darkness, without marriage

Information about Tuvaluan colours by Emanuel Fuchs

Colour words in other languages