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