Talk:Color term

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For example, a kind of sea green, called aoi in Japanese, in English is generally regarded as a shade of green, while in Japanese what an English speaker would identify as "green" can be regarded as a different shade of the kind of sea green.

I think this is a bit mixed up. Aoi is simply the Japanese word for blue, not specifically sea green. Japanese tend to regard the colour green as a shade of blue rather than a major colour, as in English. For example Japanese refer to the green colour in a traffic light as blue. FWIW Japanese do have a word for green, midori.

I second this, while reading that part of the article I was a little confused. It should be explained that Aoi is Japanese is the colour known as blue in most cultures. The current presentation would give the false assumption aoi was a sort of green to readers unfamiliar with any Japanese background.

Some questions which I feel should be elaborated on. What other sorts of uses are there for Neon and Flourecent?(does it need its own section? Are there any other relevant information for the marketing section? The information seems sparse compared to the importance of the chapter in my opinion.

2607:F278:410E:4:F912:DDAB:BA5A:2ABE JasperIshi (talk) 19:23, 17 January 2017 (UTC)


Ironic that this has no color swatches for illustration, but not sure what would be desirable. Stan 21:38, 6 January 2006 (UTC)

Copyrighted colors?[edit]

Do they exist? What about paints? Goblin Green. And things like that... do they have real names, or other names?

I'm no copyright expert, but I expect it will be like food. You can not copyright a food or a recipe, but you can copyright the name, if it is unique, specific, etc. In Kentucky (US) there is a famous recipe for Derby Pie. Only the copyright holder can make it (commercially) and call it "Derby Pie", but many restaurants make the exact same recipe and call it "Horserace Pie", "Twin Spires Pie", etc. Crayola may be able to copyright "Fuzzy Wuzzy Brown", but I dont think they could copyright #C45655 (the color itself). Many paint companies copyright certain color names, and especially names of clolor "lines", but not the color themselves. Stephenlegh (talk) 15:23, 11 June 2008 (UTC)


why is red almost always the third color term? is it because human blood is red? 15:47, 22 July 2006 (UTC)

Humans are hardwired with an opponent mechanism for color perception; in simplistic terms: black vs white; red vs green; yellow vs blue. Berlin and Kay did a study that found that the basic color terms in all the languages they surveyed include these six colors. It is unlikely that "blood red" has anything to do with it. --Walter.bender 23:23, 3 February 2007 (UTC)

Sergej N. Yendrikhovskij "Computing color categories" in Proc. of SPIE Vol. 3959 pp.365-364 argues that if you look at a random set of pictures of natural objects and perform a k-means clustering with k=3 for all appearing colors you will find the best matches are white,black and red/reddish. Or other words, if you are allowed to use only three color words, this three words are the best match you can get to describe and communicate the natural colors. (talk) 14:49, 2 May 2009 (UTC)

color science is not the same as color perception[edit]

"Color is determined by a physical color and/or other physical features, such as reflection or iridescence." Color is a psychophysical, not a physical phenomenon. Here is a simple example: a black stimulus in sunlight typical reflects more light than a white stimulus in room light. Color Science is about measuring electromagnetic radiation. Color Vision is about how the eye/mind turn radiations, plural, into the perception of color. --Walter.bender 23:18, 3 February 2007 (UTC)

Color names by language[edit]

I'd like to propose a new section on Color spectrum by langauge. It would include a reference to Distinguishing blue from green in language. I have also observed that it is common in some languages, such as German to distinguish between the colors of pink and rose (color), whereas it is not common to do so in English. samwaltz 23:03, 17 May 2007 (UTC)

English 11-color system vs. the 12-color systems used in other languages.[edit]

In the seventh paragraph of the section headed "In natural languages," the statement is made that "English has the eleven basic color terms listed above." The eleven basic English color terms, however, are never explicitly stated. If you count up the list of colors as they evolve linguistically given in paragraph six, you can infer that the eleven basic colors in the English language are black, white, red, green, yellow, blue, brown, orange, pink, purple and gray. I'll clarify that sentence explicitly listing these colors (assuming it is correct).

However, in doing so, it seems strange that the description of linguistic color-name evolution in paragraph six stops at those eleven colors before going on to discuss theories of how language influences perception or vice-versa. I'm given to understand that some languages (such as Greek and Russian, perhaps?) contain twelve basic color names, distinguishing (I think) between dark blue and light blue. If this is a universal case among languages with twelve-color systems, then a sentence should be added in paragraph six mentioning this before diverging into the discussion about perception.

For that matter, it might make sense to take the perception discussion out of graf six altogether, and give it its own subsection; it's an interesting topic and seems a bit buried where it is. Rangergordon (talk) 03:39, 27 December 2008 (UTC)

Color term vs name[edit]

I've undone the move of this page. As I understand it, color term fits better for words describing the properties of a color like hue, shade, tint, saturation, intensity, etc. while color name is name of a particular group of colors, e.g. blue, green, teal, etc. PaleAqua (talk)

color term is the term used in linguistic anthropology. A color term is simply a linguistic element that refers to a color concept. This is what the article seems to be about mostly. The article probably uses name because the person who created the page didnt know that color term is the usual word used to refer to them.
On a somewhat more tangential note, several langs do not have color terms that are nouns (verbs and adjectives are common). So, the definition is incorrect. – ishwar  (speak) 04:08, 22 March 2009 (UTC)
I agree that often color words are not nouns, but most of my sources differ on what they call them collectively. For example Ian Paterson's lexican "A Dictionary of Colour" refers to them as colourwords, colour nouns and adjectives of colour. Depending on the source, and it's field I seem to see a bit of variety in the terms. The Encyclopædia Britannica apparently uses colour-term as does And the first source cited "Basic Color Terms: Their Universality and Evolution" also uses color term. I think you pretty much have me agreeing with you, especially since this article is mostly focused on the linguistic side. PaleAqua (talk) 06:56, 22 March 2009 (UTC)

compound color names in English[edit]

When a color name is hyphenated (e.g. “green-blue”) is the predominant color the first word or the second word? For example, does “orange-yellow” refer to a golden yellow color or to a yellowish-orange color? Bwrs (talk) 01:15, 5 December 2009 (UTC)

Anthropology of color[edit]

While doing some reading I happened across some exerts from Anthropology of color: interdisciplinary multilevel modeling. ISBN 9789027232434. , looks like it might be an interesting resource for this article. Anyone seen/have this book? PaleAqua (talk) 08:48, 5 December 2009 (UTC)

Orange in Spanish[edit]

A friend of mine lived in Barcelona for a while, and noticed that whenever Spanish people talk about the color orange, they refer to a color that we scandinavians would consider to be "yellow-orange". I wonder if there is any research on this somewhere? JoaCHIP (talk) 18:43, 27 June 2010 (UTC)

There are tens of thousands of pages of published research about color terms in various languages. You might start with the links on Paul Kay’s home page. –jacobolus (t) 22:20, 27 June 2010 (UTC)

Abstract and descriptive color words[edit]

This section strikes me as somewhat confused. The definition given is "Abstract color words are words that only refer to a color. In English white, black, red, yellow, green, blue, brown, and gray are definitely abstract color words. " Firstly, I can think of alternative meanings for all of these words. Secondly, some of the later parts of the section (e.g. when discussing "pink" and "orange"), it seems to be implying that the distinction between "abstract" and "descriptive" is about original and/or predominant use, rather than whether or not a word only refers to a colour. (Indeed, I wasn't sure at first if "primary" and "secondary" were being used to mean "first" and "second", or "main" and "lesser") (talk) 20:36, 25 November 2010 (UTC)


Shouldn't Randall Munroe's survey and its results be mentioned on this page somewhere? I don't dare to just boldly add something about it, but would like to raise the question. (talk) 23:03, 23 February 2011 (UTC)

I agree, but their are those who believe the survey is meaningless because it doesn't fit their preconceptions created by meaningless old studies based on paper, impossible to accurately reproduce inks and lighting conditions unable to be accurately reproduced due to antique technology. VMS Mosaic (talk) 08:54, 22 March 2011 (UTC)
Well, even if Randall's results are meaningless (which I dispute), the project is still something most people interested in this subject would like to know about, maybe? Or is that not enough for a reference on wikipedia? (talk) 09:32, 28 March 2011 (UTC)
We have validated the xkcd data in a psychophysics experiment and presented the results at the AIC Midterm Meeting 2011 in Zurich. The paper is available also as HP Labs report HPL-2011-226. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Berettag (talkcontribs) 00:48, 20 December 2011 (UTC)
No offense Giordano, but your conclusions seem pretty out of proportion to your methodology and analysis. Cheers, jacobolus (t) 02:29, 20 December 2011 (UTC)
VMS: no one said that the survey is meaningless; indeed, I’m glad that Randall took the subject on. What I said is that without any attempt to control (or even record) the precise type of display or color settings used by the browser, the viewer’s state of adaptation, surroundings, etc., the survey can’t give anything close to precise results. –jacobolus (t) 02:35, 20 December 2011 (UTC)
The problem is that any precise results could never represent anything other than one set of conditions, subjects and objectivity in regard to colors. Even if conditions were tightly controlled (including time of day, season, the weather, etc. which matter because a subject's color perception will vary based on his immediately preceding light conditions unless he has been given no light exposure other than the exam room for a significantly long period of time (perhaps a day or more)) subjects from any given continent, race, nationality, etc. might produce significantly different results. The best that can be hoped for in a web based encyclopedia is something reasonably representational since anything displayed will never look absolutely and precisely correct; in fact any color based on some tightly controlled lab conditions using ivory tower specifications is almost guaranteed to look wrong when displayed on a web page. We can either have something representative or nothing at all? The xkcd results were obtained under an extremely wide set of conditions with an extremely wide set of subjects from many parts of the world. In other words, the results represent what will look acceptable to the most viewers using most browsers under most conditions. I believe that any tightly controlled study would produce results bordering on the meaningless (to anyone other than academics) since they would only apply to one very specific set of conditions, subjects and examiners; that is, they would only look correct on one type of display set one particular way using one particular set of browser settings under one particular set of ambient light. Even if Randell's survey recorded and provided the info you suggest, how would that change the results as far as using them as web based representational colors?
My only goal in these discussions is to allow color articles to have representational colors displayed (clearly marked as such and perhaps without any color values listed); colors which the average Wikipedia user would accept without a second thought. Going back to the old "Green" discussion, every person I asked looked at me like I was insane for even asking which "green" (your green and the one I picked) was green. It was like "why are being stupid enough to even ask since it couldn't possibly be more obvious which one is green." That is why I opposed using your colors since I didn't want to be associated with articles which would turn off users at first glance and give then reason to suspect the article was inaccurate. It's the same reason I opposed using Keraunos' X11 green (i.e., it doesn't look like green).
Unfortunately, we have been reduced to displaying only colors from X11, HTML, etc. many of which, I agree are poor representations of the actual colors being discussed, but at least they are marked as being from some specific standard. VMS Mosaic (talk) 03:07, 3 January 2012 (UTC)

Blue/black in Old Norse[edit]

In Old Norse blue also covered black, as in Blåland (= Blueland), the name for Africa, and blåmän (= blue men), the name for black Africans. How would that fit in? Thomas.W (talk) 21:02, 11 October 2012 (UTC)

No purple in Russian[edit]

Russian appears to have skipped a basic term for purple, thus it would only have 11 basic terms. Hew Johns (talk) 20:36, 17 January 2013 (UTC)


The article says the amount of difference between light & dark green is the same as the difference between orange & brown or red & pink. Do any languages distinguish between light & dark green & if so, would they be 13 color systems? Also, are orange & brown really that close? (talk) 05:18, 22 September 2013 (UTC)

Order of Color Terms - is English unusual?[edit]

The article says that the seventh color added to a language is always brown, and after that gray, pink, or orange...but gray was in the English language in 700 AD but brown was not used as a color term until 1000 AD, at least according to the articles on those colors in Wikipedia. Gray appears to be very old in Germanic languages but brown being adapted from "bear-colored" is pretty recent. Should "always brown" be changed to "usually brown"? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:02, 21 December 2013 (UTC)


Cyan is NOT a basic color term in English. source, slide 8. It is a variant of blue. I am removing it from the article. 0nlyth3truth (talk) 22:03, 4 December 2014 (UTC)


This article appears to be using serial commas inconsistently and probably should be changed (save for confusing cases ) to either always using it or never. PaleAqua (talk) 03:14, 7 January 2015 (UTC)

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