Colour words in Welsh (Lliwiau)

Words for colours in Welsh with notes and colour-related expressions.

The word for colour in Welsh is lliw [ɬiu] (pl: lliwiau), which also means hue, tine; (colour of) complexion or skin, countenance, colouring; state, appearance, form, character; lustre, shade (of meaning); pigment, paint, make-up, cosmetic; dye.

Related words include:

black du [dɨ̞ː/dɪː] - black, sable, dark

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

Expressions / Related words

  • duo - to blacken, darken, slander
  • y du bach - gunpowder
  • du bitsh - pitch black
  • du'r efail - smith-black, lamp-black; mourning
  • du'r llygad - iris, black of the eye
  • du ysgrifennu - ink
  • ar ddu a gwyn / mewn du a gwyn - in writing ("in black and white")
  • mewn du - in mourning, in black

white gwyn [gwɨ̞n/gwɪn] - white, greyish white, pale; light, shining, bright; brilliant, white-hot; silver (of money); amber-coloured (of wine)

Note: gwyn is used with masculine nouns. The feminine form is gwen, and the plural is gwynion.

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

Expressions / Related words

  • gwynnu - to whiten, become white, bleach, blanch
  • gwynni - whiteness
  • gwyn wy / gwynnwi - white of an egg
  • ar y gwyn - light-coloured
  • cyn wynned â'r eira - as white as snow
  • trwy wyn y dydd / trwy'r dydd gwyn - all day long ("through with of the day")
  • gwyngoch - pink

red coch [kɔːχ] - red, ruddy, scarlet, bloody; ginger (hair); brown

Note: coch is used with singular nouns. The plural form is cochion.

Etymology: possibly from the Latin coccinus (scarlet)

Expressions / Related words

  • cochi - to make or become red, redden, brown, scorch; blush
  • cochi at y clustiau - to blush to the roots of the hair ("to redden to the ears")
  • cochi penwaig (ysgadan) - to smoke or cure herrings
  • cochi tir - to plough ("to redden the land")
  • cochiad - a reddening, a blusing
  • cochineb - redness, red colour, flush
  • cochddu - reddish-black, dark colour, russet, brown
  • coch golau - light red, pink

red rhudd [r̥ɨːð/r̥iːð] - red, ruddy, purplish, bay, tawny, brown; bloody; scorched

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

Expressions / Related words

  • rhuddgoch - red, crimson, purple, blood-red, bloody, ruddy, redish, rose-coloured, pink, brown, russet, tawny, auburn, ginger
  • aur rhudd - red gold (coin)
  • carw rhudd - red deer, stag
  • Môr R(h)udd - the Red Sea

yellow melyn [ˈmɛlɨ̞n/ˈmɛlɪn/ˈmeːlɪn] - yellow, golden, yellow-haired, blond; light-bay (horse); sallow, livid, brown (skin, sugar)

Etymology: from the Middle Welsh melyn, from Proto-Celtic *melinos, from *meli (honey), from Proto-Indo-European *mélid (honey)

Expressions / Related words

  • melynu - to be or become yellow or golden; to make yellow or golden
  • melynwawr - yellow, gold-coloured, golden, tinged with yellow or gold
  • melyni - yellowness; jaundice
  • melyniad - a making yellow or golden, a yellowing
  • melyngoch - yellowish-red, reddish-yellow, orange, copper-coloured, amber, brick-red, auburn
  • melynddu - yellowish-brown, dark yellow, tawny, russet, roan, swarthy, dusky
  • melynwyn - pale or bright yellow, yellowish-white, straw-coloured, sallow, flaxen-haired

blue green glas [ɡlɑːs] - blue, azure, sky-blue, greenish blue, sea-green

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

Expressions / Related words

  • glasu - to pale, turn plae, turn grey (of hair); become bluish or livid; become dim
  • glas y wawr - grey dawn, break of day
  • glas (yr) India, glas o eind - indigo
  • glas mannog - dapple grey
  • glas morol - sea blue
  • glasgoch - blue tinged with red, purple, violet, puce

green gwyrdd [ɡwɨ̞rð/ɡwɪrð] - green, verdant, bluish green, pale (blue), grey; fresh, lively; grassy

Note: gwyrddd is used with masculine nouns. The feminine form is gwerdd, and the plural is gwyrddion.

Etymology: from the Latin viridis (green).

Expressions / Related words

  • gwyrddu - to become green, sprout; pale, make verdant
  • gwyrddlas - sea-green, dark green, leek-green
  • belt gwyrdd, belt werdd - green belt
  • delor gwyrdd - green woodpecker (Gecinus viridis)
  • papur gwyrdd - green paper

brown brown [brɔu̯n] - brown

Etymology: from the English brown

Expressions / Related words

  • bara brown - brown bread
  • siwgr brown - brown sugar

brown gwinau [gwɨ̞naɨ/gwɪ̞nai] - bay, reddish brown, auburn, chestnut, dark red, olive, swarthy, dark

Etymology: from gwin (wine), from the Proto-Brythonic *gwin (wine), from late Proto-Celtic *wīnom (wine), from the Latin vīnum (wine, grapes, grapevine).

Expressions / Related words

  • ceffyl gwinau - bay (horse)
  • gwin gwinau - (?)amber wine

pink pinc [pɪŋk] - pink, carnation, spruce, dapper, neat, trim, smart, fine, pretty

Etymology: from the English pink

Expressions / Related words

  • pinc y liri - very smart
  • pinc y môr - thrift, sea pink (Armeria maritima)
  • pinc yr aden wen / bili binc - chaffinch (Fringilla cœlebs)
  • pinc y mynydd - brambling (Fringilla montifringilla)

orange oren [ˈɔrɛn] - orange

Etymology: from the English orange

Expressions / Related words

  • Urdd yr Orenwyr - the Orange Order

grey llwydd [ˈɬʊɨ̯d/ˈɬʊi̯d] - grey, faint; pale, pallied, wan; russet, brown; turbid, muddy (water)

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

Expressions / Related words

  • llwydaf / llwydo - to turn grey or brown, become turgid or muddy, turn pale, fade; grow old
  • llwydi - greyness; mouldiness, mould, mildew; being grey-haired
  • llwydwyn - greyish-white, silver-grey, pale grey, light grey, pale
  • llwytgoch - reddish brown, greyish red, rust-colour russet

purple porffor [ˈpɔrfɔr] - purple, puce, violet, red, crimson, scarlet

Etymology: from the Latin purpura (purple)

Expressions / Related words

  • porfforaidd = purplish
  • boneddiges borffor - purple emperor (Apatura iris)
  • lleuad borffor - purple moon, reddish or coppery moon said to portend frosty weather
  • pibydd porffor: - purple sandpiper (Calidris maritima)
  • porffora - to become purple or crimson
  • porfforanedig, a aned yn y porffor - born to the purple

purple piws [pɪu̯s] - puce, (reddish) purple

Etymology: from the English puce (purple), from the French couleur puce (flea-colored), from the Latin pūlex (flea).

Expressions / Related words

  • piwslyd = purplish
  • mynd yn biws (gan gynddaredd), troi'n biws (gan gynddaredd) - to get purple in the face (with anger)

silver arian [arjan] - silver, silvery, money

Etymology: from the Middle Welsh ariant, from Old Welsh argant, from Proto-Brythonic *arɣant, from Proto-Celtic *arganto(m) (silver), from Proto-Indo-European *h₂erg- (to shine).

Expressions / Related words

  • ariannaidd - silvery
  • arian byw - quicksilver, mercury, lively person

gold aur [aɨ̯r; ai̯r] - gold, gold money, wealth

Etymology: from the Latin aureus (golden)

Expressions / Related words

  • aurfelyn - golden yellow
  • aurenau; eurenau; - golden-mouthed, eloquent and wise of speech
  • aurdafod - golden tongue, eloquent and wise (utterance)
  • aurafal; eurafal - orange, lemon ("gold apple")
  • aurasgell - goldfinch

Other colours

  • asur - azure
  • beis - beige
  • ehöeg - heather-coloured, purple; green (obsolete)
  • purgoch / fflamgoch - crimson
  • marwn - maroon
  • efydd - bronze
  • hufen - cream
  • magenta / majenta - magenta
  • piwswyn / porffor gwelw / porffor golau - mauve
  • ysgarlad - scarlet

Sources of etymologies

Information about Welsh | Phrases (serious) | Phrases (silly) | Numbers | Family words | Terms of endearment | Colours | Time | Dates | Weather | Idioms | Proverbs | Tongue twisters | Songs | Tower of Babel | Coelbren y Beirdd (Bardic alphabet) | Braille for Welsh | Links | My podcast about Welsh | Comparison of Celtic languages | Celtic cognates | Celtiadur | Books about Welsh on: and [affilate links]

Colours in Celtic languages

Breton, Cornish, Irish, Manx, Scottish Gaelic, Welsh

Colour words in other languages


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