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Colour words in Cornish

Words for colours in Cornish (Kernewek) with notes and colour-related expressions.

Words of in the Standard Written Form (SWF) of Cornish. Pronunciations are given in Middle and Late Cornish variants, which are marked (M) and (L) where they differ.

Colour in Cornish is liw [liˑʊ] (pl: liwyow), which also means dye or paint. Another word for colour in Cornish is kolor ['kɔlɔr (M); 'kɔlɐr (L)], which also means paint or make-up.

Related words include:


black du [dy: / diˑʊ] - black, dark

Etymology: from Proto-Brythonic *duβ (black), from Proto-Celtic *dubus (black), from Proto-Indo-European *dʰewbʰ- (black).

Expressions / Related words

  • duik - blackish
  • duhe - to blacken
  • pur dhu - pitch black
  • dulas - dark green

white gwynn [gwɪn] - white, fair, blessed

Etymology: from the Proto-Brythonic *gwɨnn (white), from Proto-Celtic *windos (white), from Proto-Indo-European *ḱweytos (bright; shine).

Expressions / Related words

  • gwynnnow - white
  • gwynnik - whitish
  • gwynnek - whiting
  • gwynn oy / gwynnwi - white of an egg
  • gwynnrudh - pink
  • gwynnvys - blessed, fortunate, lucky

red rudh [ry:ð (M); ri:ð (L)] - red

Etymology: from Proto-Celtic *rowdos (red), from Proto-Indo-European *h₁rewdʰ- (red)

Expressions / Related words

  • rudhek - robin
  • rudhik - reddish
  • rudhya - to blush, redden
  • rudhveyln - orange
  • liw rudh - blush; red colour
  • penn rudh - redhead
  • rudh min - lipstick

yellow melen - yellow, blonde

Etymology: from Proto-Celtic *melinos, from *meli (honey), from Proto-Indo-European *mélid (honey).

Expressions / Related words

  • melenaat - to (become) yellow
  • >

blue glas [gla:z (M); glæ:z (L)] - blue, green, grey

Etymology: from Proto-Brythonic *glas (green, blue), from Proto-Celtic *glastos (green, blue), probably from Proto-Indo-European *ǵʰl̥h₃stós, from *ǵʰelh₃- (“green, yellow”).

Expressions / Related words

  • glasik - bluish
  • glasneth - vegetation
  • glasrudh - purple

green gwyrdh [gwɪrð]; gwer [gwɛ:r (M); gwe:r (L)] - green; dulas ['dʏlas (m); 'dɪʊləz (L)] - dark green

Etymology: gwyrdh and gwer come from Latin viridis (green). Dulas = black-green.

Expressions / Related words

  • an Parti Gwer - the Green Party
  • an Re Wer - the Greens

brown gell [gɛl: ] - (light) brown; gorm [gɔrm] - (dark) brown

Etymology (gell): Proto-Celtic *gello- (yellow) or *gelo- (white), from Proto-Indo-European *ǵʰelh₃- (gleam, yellow)

Etymology (gorm): Proto-Brythonic *gurm (dun, dark, blue), from Proto-Celtic *gurmos (dun, dark, blue).


pink gwynnrudh ['gwɪnrʏð (M); 'gwɪnrəð (L)]; kigliw ['kɪglɪʊ] - pink

Etymology: gwynn = "white-red". kigliw = "meat/flesh-colour".


orange rudhvelyn [rʏð'vɛlɪn (M); rɪð'vɛlən (L)] - orange

Etymology: redhvelyn = "red-yellow"


grey loes [lo:z (M); lu:z (L)] - grey, mouldy; glas [gla:z (M); glæ:z (L)] - blue, green, grey

Etymology (loes): from Proto-Brythonic *luïd, from Proto-Celtic *ɸlētos, from Proto-Indo-European *pel- (gray).


purple glasrudh ['glazrʏð (M); 'glæzrəð (L)]; purpur ['pʏrpʏr (M); 'pərpər (L)] - purple

Etymology: glasrudh = "blue/green-red". Purpur comes from the English purple.


silver arghans ['arhans (M); 'ærhɐnz (L)] - silver, money

Etymology: from Old Cornish argans, from Proto-Celtic *arganto- (silver), from Proto-Indo-European *h₂erg- (to shine)

Expressions / Related words

  • arghansek - silvery
  • arghas byw - quicksilver, mercury

gold owr [ɔʊr] - gold

Etymology: from Latin aureus (golden)

Expressions / Related words

  • owrek; owryek - golden
  • owraval - orange (gold apple)
  • owravlik - kumquat
  • owrbesk; owrbysk - goldfish
  • owrgi - jackal

Hear some of these Cornish colours:

Liwyow - Colour 2 from Golden Tree Productions on Vimeo.


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