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168 Color terms in English

Compiled by Stephen Chrisomalis

This list contains 168 definitions of obscure colour terms using combinations of ‘normal‘ colours of the rainbow and descriptive adjectives; e.g. cardinal = deep scarlet red; russet = reddish brown. Note that most English speakers outside the U.S. spell colour with the added British ‘u’ rather than the American version color. Don’t worry if the colours (or colors) in your universe don’t match up with the definitions I’ve given for these words, though – I’ve been known to have skewed perceptions of reality …

Word Definition
aeneous shining bronze colour
albicant whitish; becoming white
albugineous like the white of an eye or an egg; white-coloured
amaranthine immortal; undying; deep purple-red colour
argent the heraldic colour silver or white
atrous jet black
aubergine eggplant; a dark purple colour
aurulent gold-coloured
azuline blue
azure light or sky blue; the heraldic colour blue
badious chestnut-coloured
beige light creamy white-brown
brunneous dark brown
burnet dark brown; dark woollen cloth
caesious bluish or greyish green
cardinal deep scarlet red colour
castaneous chestnut-coloured
castory brown colour; brown dye derived from beaver pelts
celadon pale green; pale green glazed pottery
celeste sky blue
cerulean sky-blue; dark blue; sea-green
cesious bluish-grey
chartreuse yellow-green colour
chlorochrous green-coloured
chrysochlorous greenish-gold
cinerious ashen; ash-grey
cinnabar red crystalline mercuric sulfide pigment; deep red or scarlet colour
citreous lemon-coloured; lemony
citrine dark greenish-yellow
claret dark red-purple colour; a dark-red wine
coccineous bright red
columbine of or like a dove; dove-coloured
coquelicot brilliant red; poppy red
corbeau blackish green
cramoisy crimson
cretaceous of or resembling chalk; of a whitish colour
croceate saffron-coloured
cyaneous sky blue
eau-de-nil pale green colour
eburnean of or like ivory; ivory-coloured
erythraean reddish colour
ferruginous of the colour of rust; impregnated with iron
filemot dead-leaf colour; dull brown
flammeous flame-coloured
flavescent yellowish or turning yellow
fuliginous sooty; dusky; soot-coloured; of or pertaining to soot
fulvous dull yellow; tawny
fuscous brown; tawny; dingy
gamboge reddish-yellow colour
glaucous sea-green; greyish-blue
goldenrod dark golden yellow
greige of a grey-beige colour
gridelin violet-grey
griseous pearl-grey or blue-grey; grizzled
haematic blood-coloured
heliotrope purplish hue; purplish-flowered plant; ancient sundial; signalling mirror
hoary pale silver-grey colour; grey with age
hyacinthine of a blue or purple colour
ianthine violet-coloured
ibis large stork-like bird; a pale apricot colour
icterine yellowish or marked with yellow
icteritious jaundiced; yellow
incarnadine carnation-coloured; blood-red
indigo deep blue-violet colour; a blue-violet dye
infuscate clouded or tinged with brown; obscured; cloudy brown colour
isabelline greyish yellow
jacinthe orange colour
jessamy yellow like a jasmine
kermes brilliant red colour; a red dye derived from insects
khaki a dull greenish or brownish-yellow colour, mid 19th century: from Urdu khākī ‘dust-coloured’, from khāk ‘dust’, from Persian.
lateritious brick-red
leucochroic white or pale-coloured
liard grey; dapple-grey
lovat grey-green; blue-green
lurid red-yellow; yellow-brown
luteolous yellowish
luteous golden-yellow
lutescent yellowish
madder red dye made from brazil wood; a reddish or red-orange colour
magenta reddish purple
maroon brownish crimson
mauve light bluish purple
mazarine rich blue or reddish-blue colour
melanic black; very dark
melichrous having a honey-like colour
meline canary-yellow
miniaceous colour of reddish lead
minium vermilion; red lead
modena crimson
morel dark-coloured horse; blackish colour
nacarat bright orange-red
nankeen buff-coloured; durable buff-coloured cotton
nigricant of a blackish colour
nigrine black
niveous snowy; white
ochre yellowish or yellow-brown colour
ochroleucous yellowish white
olivaceous olive-coloured
or heraldic colour gold or yellow
pavonated peacock-blue
periwinkle a bluish or azure colour; a plant with bluish flowers
perse dark blue or bluish-grey; cloth of such a colour
phoeniceous bright scarlet-red colour
piceous like pitch; inflammable; reddish black
plumbeous leaden; lead-coloured
ponceau poppy red
porphyrous purple
porraceous leek-green
prasinous leek-green colour
primrose pale yellow
puccoon blood-root; dark red colour
puce brownish-purple; purplish-pink
puniceous bright or purplish red
purpure heraldic colour purple
purpureal purple
pyrrhous reddish; ruddy
rhodopsin visual purple
rubiginous rusty-coloured
rubious ruby red; rusty
rufous reddish or brownish-red
russet reddish brown
sable black; dark; of a black colour in heraldry
saffron orange-yellow
sage grey-green colour
sanguineous bloody; of, like or pertaining to blood; blood-red
sapphire deep pure blue
sarcoline flesh-coloured
sepia fine brown
sinopia preparatory drawing for a fresco; reddish-brown colour
slate dull dark blue-grey
smalt deep blue
smaragdine emerald green
solferino purplish red
sorrel reddish-brown; light chestnut
spadiceous chestnut-coloured
stammel coarse woollen fabric, usually dyed red; bright red colour
stramineous strawy; light; worthless; straw-coloured
suede light beige
sulphureous bright yellow
tan tawny brown
taupe brownish-grey
tawny brownish-yellow
teal greenish-blue
terracotta reddish-brown
testaceous of or having a hard shell; brick-red
tilleul pale yellowish-green
titian red-gold or reddish-brown
topaz dark yellow
turquoise blue-green
ultramarine deep blue
umber brownish red
vermeil bright red or vermilion colour; gilded silver
vermilion bright red
vinaceous wine-coloured
vinous deep red; burgundy
violaceous violet-coloured
violet bluish purple
virescent becoming green or greenish; of a greenish colour
virid green
viridian chrome green
vitellary bright yellow
wallflower yellowish-red
watchet pale blue
wheaten the golden colour of ripe wheat
whey off-white
willowish of the colour of willow leaves
xanthic yellow; yellowish
zinnober chrome green
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About JustEnglish.me

This blog is Zoe's way to spread the joy of finding and learning interesting bits about English. Join her and learn something new every time.

4 responses to “168 Color terms in English”

  1. Sudhin says :

    Very nice 🙂

  2. Joanne Rothschild says :

    Wonderful!!!!! Especially for us folks who are in the design biz!!!!

  3. Jayme H. Mansfield says :

    Excellent list! I write fiction, all with a visual art component. Thank you!

  4. Robbin says :

    Heya i’m for the first time here. I came across this board and I find It really useful & it
    helped me out much. I am hoping to give something back and help others such as you helped me.

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