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Tag Archive | color

The Fascinating Origins of 10 Everyday Color Words

By Onna Nelson, University of California, Santa Barbara

red colour color English meaning

1. English red

The Proto-Indo-European (PIE) word for red, reudh, remained largely unchanged for thousands of years, showing up in English red, Spanish rojo, French rouge, German rot, Icelandic rauðr, and Welsh rhudd. Not only did it lead to these words for the color itself, it also led to red-related English words like ruby, rust, and rubeola.

 

carbon-remains english black

2. English black

The PIE word bhel evolved into many modern words meaning “white,” including Spanish blanco, French blanc, Italian bianco, and Portuguese branco, as well as white-related words such as bleach and blank. So why does the English word black look so much like all these other words for white? Well, bhel also referred to anything bright, like fire, and the result of fire is blackened, charred remains. Hence, black.

grass green, grun, English meaning

3. English green

The PIE word ghre-, meaning “to grow,” is another root which endured the centuries. What grows? Green stuff! Grhe- gave us many modern words meaning “green,” including English green, German grün, and Icelandic grænn, as well as the English words grow, grass, graze and herb.

purple meaning English

4. Portuguese red and purple

As languages add color words to their lexicon, the colors a word refers to can get shifted around. Portuguese roxo, related to the same PIE word reudh, used to mean red and red-related colors, including pink, orange, and purple. When the bright red pigment vermilion was imported from China, Portuguese began using vermelho to refer to red, and pushed roxo aside to refer exclusively to purple.

purpura purple english meaning

5. English purple

Purpura is the Latin name of a particular kind of shellfish which, when ground up, produces a bright purple dye, which in turn was taken from the Greek word porphura to describe the same sea creature. The word purpura later began to refer to the dye, and eventually the color of this dye. This dye was very expensive, and purple was considered a color of royalty throughout Europe. When this dye was exported to England, the word purple was imported into English as well. Today “purpura” is used by medicos to describe purplish discolorations of the skin.

pink english meaning

6. English pink

Lots of fancy color words come from flowers or fruits: violet, periwinkle, lavender, lilac, olive, eggplant, pumpkin, and peach, to name a few. In English, pink used to refer exclusively to a flower called a pink, a dianthus which has pale red petals with fringed edges. “Pink” the verb, meaning to cut or tear jaggedly, has been in use in the English language since the early 14th century. Eventually, English speakers forgot the name of the flower, but preserved the word for the color.

japaneese meaning blue

7. Japanese blue and green

Over two-thirds of the world’s languages have a single word for both green and blue, known as grue in English. In Japanese, aoi historically referred to grue. When Crayola crayons were imported, green was labeled midori and blue was labeled aoi. New generations of schoolchildren learned them as different colors. But traces of grue remain: Japanese still refers to “blue” traffic lights and “blue” apples with aoi.

blue sin sini

8. Kurdish and Russian blue

In Russian, the word for dark blue is sinii, and in Kurdish the word for blue is šin. In Neo-Aramaic, a central hub of trade, the word for blue is sǐni, and in Kurdish the word for blue is šin. In Arabic, a central hub of trade, the word for ‘Chinese’ is sini. The words for Chinese and blue became synonymous due to the popular blue and white porcelain china commonly traded in the region.

yellow

9. Spanish yellow

Amarillo, or “yellow,” is a diminutive form of the Spanish word amargo, which comes from the Latin word amarus, meaning “bitter.” So how did “little bitter” come to be synonymous with “yellow”? In the Middle Ages, medical physicians commonly believed that the human body had four humors. The “bitter humor” referred to bile, which is yellow.

orange color meaning english

10. English orange

When oranges (the fruit) were exported from India, the word for them was exported too. Sanskrit narangah, or “orange tree,” was borrowed into Persian as narang, “orange (fruit),” which was borrowed into Arabic as naranj, into Italian as arancia, into French as orange, and eventually into English as orange. The color of the fruit was so striking that after borrowing the word and the crop, English speakers eventually began referring to the color by this word as well. Before oranges were imported in the 1500s, the English word for orange (the color) was geoluhread (literally, “yellow-red”).

 

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Talk English by colors

 

WHITE

 

 White_Flag
a white lie a harmless lie/ a lie to spare someone’s feelings
white noise static noise
white as a sheet scared, sick, surprised
white as a ghost scared
white-collar related to “desk jobs”
a white flag surrender
to whitewash something to mask the negative parts
white wine wine from green or yellow grapes
a white Christmas snow on Christmas day
a white wedding a traditional western-style wedding where the bride wears a white gown
a white person a person of Caucasian race
white-hot extremely hot OR popular
a white paper an authoritative report on a issue
a white elephant a useless knick-knack OR an expensive, useless thing
white as the driven snow innocent (often used sarcastically about corruption)
white with rage extremely enraged
to bleed someone white to take everything someone has, esp. money
showing the white feather acting cowardly
a white-knuckle ride a dangerous, nerve-wracking, scary ride
that’s mighty white of you (old-fashioned) that’s good of you
lily-white unmistakably Caucasian OR blameless, goodly
white horses (surfing) patches of white foam made by breaking waves
white trash (American) (offensive) uneducated, socio-economically disadvantaged Caucasian people
whiter than white (British) righteous, innocent

BLACK

a white pointer (Australian)

080766-glossy-black-icon-business-envelope1a topless female sunbather
to blackmail someone to threaten to reveal secrets unless payment is made
to black out to lose consciousness
a blackout a loss of electricity in an area
the blackout during wartime, extinguishing or covering lights
black magic / the black arts magic used for malevolent purposes
the pot calling the kettle black someone criticizing someone else for a quality they themselves possess
the black market illegal/underground sales and purchases
little black book book of contacts, esp. past or potential dates
a black sheep the outcast or disgrace in a group
black gold oil / petrolium
  black tie formal clothing e.g. a tuxedo
black humor jokes about death or illness
a black day a day when something bad happens
to be in black and white to be written down officially
to be black and white (a situation) to be clear
in the black profitable
a black mood a bad, grumpy mood
a black eye a bruised eye
to blacklist someone to prevent someone from being hired
to blackball someone to shut someone out from group participation
black and blue bruised
a black look an angry/disapproving facial expression
as black as night very dark black
pitch black very dark black
a black person a person of African heritage
black ops extralegal covert activity, done in the dark (military/politics)
black-hearted cruel, evil, mean
a black mark an indication of wrongdoing
to blacken someone’s name to suggest/indicate a person’s wrongdoing
the Black Death The Bubonic Plague
  a black rat (British) a traffic police officer
Black Friday (U.S.) The day after American Thanksgiving when many stores have sales
the black dog (Irish) a bad mood
beyond the black stump (Australian) the back of nowhere, far from anything

RED

 

 

 

 

 

in the red

arrow-pointing-downunprofitable OR negative financial balance, owing money
a redhead a person with orange-colored hair
red light district area with prostitutes
to see red to be furious
red with rage furious
to turn/go red become embarrassed
a red herring a false clue
to paint the town red to dine, dance, experience fun in a town or city
a red flag a signal that something is wrong
roll out the red carpet give a big welcome
red tape unnecessary/excessive bureaucracy
not one red cent no money at all
a red letter day a special day
a scarlet woman a sinful woman
scarlet fever an infection with group A streptococcus bacteria.
red-hot very hot OR very popular
red card a sanction for a soccer player
red alert a serious warning of danger
a red-blooded male a virile, manly male person
like a red rag/flag to a bull provoking/aggravating anger
red (adjective) communist
bleed red ink (British) debt
red in tooth and claw (British) the wild, violent aspect of the natural world
redshirting (U.S.) delaying an athlete’s participation in sports order to lengthen his/her period of eligibility
  a red state (U.S.) a state whose residents are politically more Republican
a redneck (U.S.) an uneducated, rural white American
a red-bone (U.S.) a light-skinned black woman
the red scare (U.S.) (historical) the worry that society would be infiltrated by communists and communism
the red eye (U.S.) the overnight flight between west and east coast

GREEN

green with envy

green-parrot-wide-300x187very envious
the green-eyed monster jealousy
to give the green light to give approval to proceed
to be green (in a position) to be inexperienced, a rookie
to be green (policy) to be environmentally aware
the green room room in a theater or studio where guests/performers wait to go on
to turn green to be nauseous
green around the gills sick-looking
a greenbelt an area of nature around a city
greens vegetables
a green a golf course
a greengrocer a person/store that sells vegetables & fruit
  the grass is always greener on the other side other people’s possessions/situations always seem better than your own
greener pastures a better situation
to greenwash something to deceptively make practices/policies seem more environmentally friendly
little green men stereotypical/humorous description of space aliens
as sure as God made little green apples very certain
colorless green ideas sleep furiously (Linguistics) Noam Chomsky’s oft-quoted example of a sentence with good grammar but no meaning
to have green fingers (British) to be good with plants/gardens
to have a green thumb (U.S.) to be good with plants/gardens
a greenie (Australian) an environmentally aware person
a green card (U.S.) legal residency status
a greenhorn (U.S.) an inexperienced or young person
greenbacks (U.S.) dollars

YELLOW

yellow

fashion_recap__yellowcowardly
a yellow streak cowardice
yellow-bellied cowardly
yellow journalism disreputable, sensationalistic journalism
a yellow card (soccer) to give someone a first warning
the yellow peril (offensive, archaic) the fear that Asian people will outnumber/displace Caucasian people
yellow fever  an acute viral haemorrhagic disease
yellow fever (Nigerian slang) traffic police
a yellow dog Democrat (U.S.) a voter who always votes Democrat in every election

BLUE

out of the blue

blue-sky-14366suddenly, unexpectedly
a bolt from the blue a sudden/unexpected thing
to be blue to be sad
a blue funk a feeling of melancholy
the blues sadness OR a 3 chord style of music
once in a blue moon infrequently
blue-collar related to manual labor or the working class
a blue blood an aristocratic person
to talk a blue streak to talk a lot
to turn blue to have difficulty breathing
blue with cold feeling very cold
until you’re blue in the face having lost your patience
blue chip stock stock of an established/financially sound company
working blue performing using foul language
a blue movie a pornographic film
a blueprint (for something) a design, a guide
true blue faithful
blue on blue in military: friendly fire
into the wide/wild blue yonder to an unknown/faraway place
blue balls (lewd) male sexual frustration due to unfulfilled sexual urges
to turn the air blue to swear a lot
between the devil and the deep blue sea a dilemma
the boys in blue the police
the thin blue line the police
a blue state (U.S.) a state whose residents are politically more Democrat
a blue (British) a Tory
to scream blue murder (British) to express yourself angrily
a blue-eyed boy (British) a male who can do no wrong, who is favored by authority
having a blue (Australian) having a fight
make a blue (Australian) make a mistake

BROWN

a brown-noser

51FWx8gxbOL._SY300_a sycophant
in a brown study being contemplative; daydreaming
  browned off (British) annoyed

PURPLE

purple prose

purpleflowery, romantic writing
born in the purple born into a high ranking/aristocratic family
the Purple Heart (U.S.) a U.S. military honor badge
a purple patch (British) a period of exceptionally high achievement

ORANGE

agent orange

Orange_and_cross_sectiona defoliant used in herbicidal warfare
Orangemen (Irish) Protestant fraternal organization

PINK

in the pink of health

big_a149_pinko_rozovata_panteravery healthy
tickled pink very pleased
a pinko a communist
to see the world through rose-colored glasses to see the world through an optimistic filter
rosy positive, optimistic,
to get a pink slip to be fired
the pink pound (British) consumer spending by gay people

GREY

grey area

seagull_greyunclear
grey matter the brain
to give someone grey hairs to try someone’s patience
gray market sale of products via nonstandard distribution channels or at an unofficial price
grey nomads (Australian) retirees who travel around the country
the silver screen the movies

GOLDEN

a golden boy

Gold bar isolated with clipping patha well-regarded, successful man
a golden handshake monetary incentive to join a company
a golden parachute money given to an executive leaving a company
golden ears great listening ability to discern quality or commerciality
a golden shower (lewd) urinating on a sexual partner
a golden mean the desirable middle (between extremes of excess and deficiency)

COLOR

off-color

rainbow_fridge_magnetinappropriate, crude
to show your true colors to reveal your true self or feelings
a colorless person a boring person
colorful (e.g. tale, history, life) event-filled and interesting
colorful language vivid or expletive-filled language
to pass with flying colors to do very well
local color having typical characteristics of the local area
color commentary facts & comments about athletes during a broadcast
a horse of a different color a completely different thing/idea
a country’s colors the colors of a national flag
 SOURCE

Avoiding Cross-Cultural Faux Pas

What could be wrong with sipping vodka in Russia? Or with eating with your left hand in India, or with patting the back of a colleague in Korea to thank them for a “job well done”?In many countries, these actions are harmless. But in others, they can give a wrong impression or cause offense. They could even damage a relationship or ruin a major deal.

In fact, whatever culture you’re from, it’s likely that you routinely do something that could cause offense somewhere else in the world.

Avoiding Cross-Cultural Faux Pas
You may cause offense if you use chopsticks incorrectly.
© iStockphoto/imagestock

In this article, we’ll discuss why it is so important to be aware of different cultural traditions. We’ll also highlight some gestures and actions to avoid if you want to build good working relationships with people from these cultures.

The Importance of Cultural Awareness

It’s not just professionals working overseas who need to learn cross-cultural business etiquette. Stop and think about how many different cultures you come into contact with at work.

Even if you work in your home country, your colleagues and suppliers could hail from other cultures. Your organization might decide to acquire or merge with an organization in a different country. And your customers, too, may be located in dozens of countries worldwide.

Our world’s diversity is what makes it so fascinating. When you take time to understand the reasons for this diversity, you show respect for other people’s cultures. And when you do this in a business context, you’ll improve your working relationships and develop your own reputation.

Considering Cultural Differences

Consider the following questions when thinking about how a culture might differ from your own:

  • What values does this culture embrace? How do these values compare with those of your culture?
  • How do people make decisions, conduct relationships, and display emotion?
  • How does this culture treat time and scheduling?
  • What are the social rules and boundaries surrounding gender?
  • How does this culture display and respect power? Which authority figures are revered?
  • How do individuals relate to their employers?
  • How do people in this culture communicate? How direct are they in what they say and mean?
Tip 1:
See our article on cultural intelligence to learn how to work well in different cultures. This is a powerful skill that can be learned and developed throughout your working life.Tip 2:
Be humble. Whatever you learn about cultural differences, there will be local and regional variations that you won’t know about. Admit that you’re keen to learn, and encourage people to tell you about these variations.

Common Cross-Cultural Mistakes

Below we’ve listed actions and items that could cause offense in a variety of cultures and countries. (Note, however, that this list isn’t exhaustive!)

Food

People abstain from eating and drinking certain foods for many religious and cultural reasons. Manners and expectations at the table can also differ.

  • In Asian and Russian cultures, it’s common not to talk during a meal because the food is the focus. Most conversation takes place after dinner. This isn’t the case in, for example, Japan, where colleagues often discuss work after hours and while socializing over a meal.
  • How much you eat can cause offense in some cultures. For example, your hosts in Russia, Greece, and Italy could be offended if you don’t eat enough.
  • Pay careful attention to how you use your chopsticks in Asian countries. Never use them in a gesture or for pointing, and never stick them upright in your rice bowl: this is an omen of death. Don’t use them to spear a piece of food or to tap a glass or bowl, either. And never cross your chopsticks; they should always lie side by side.
  • Try to avoid turning down vodka in Russia – when it’s offered, it’s a sign of trust and friendship. Vodka is served neat, and you should drink it all at once; Russians consider sipping vodka to be rude.
  • Muslims, Mormons, and Seventh Day Adventists avoid alcohol.
  • Hindus, India’s largest religious population, consider it unholy to eat beef. Most are also vegetarian. Muslims and Jews are forbidden to eat pork (and, in addition, Jews do not eat shellfish), and Roman Catholics may choose fish rather than red meat on Fridays.

Body Language and Gestures

  • In India, Africa, and the Middle East, people always use their right hand for greeting, touching, and eating. They consider the left hand unclean, so you should never use it for anything publicly.
  • Several cultures consider crossing your legs to be rude. For example, in the Middle East and South Africa, crossed legs often show the sole of the foot, a sign of an ill wish or a bad omen. In Japan, it’s considered rude to cross your legs in the presence of someone older or more respected than you.
  • Certain gestures considered acceptable in one country can be highly offensive in another. For example, a “thumbs up” gesture is seen as a sign of satisfaction in the West, but is highly offensive in some Middle Eastern countries.
  • In the United States, a handshake demonstrates that negotiations are finished, and that everyone is leaving on good terms. In the Middle East, a handshake is a sign that serious negotiations are now beginning.
  • In many cultures, pointing is impolite, so it’s usually best to avoid it entirely. If you must gesture toward something, use your entire hand.
Tip:
It can be challenging to know which gestures are taboo.A good rule of thumb is to avoid gestures until you’re sure that they’re acceptable. Watch how locals use body language, and follow their lead.

Clothing and Color

  • In the South Pacific, Asia, Thailand, and Russia, it’s courteous to remove your shoes before entering a home. This helps maintain cleanliness; but it’s also a sign that you’re leaving the outside world where it belongs.
  • Some cultures pay careful attention to clothing. For example, it’s important to be well dressed in Italy and the United Arab Emirates, and sloppy or casual clothing is considered impolite.
  • The color of your clothing could also cause offense. For example, never wear yellow in Malaysia; this color is reserved for royalty. In China, you’ll make a better impression by wearing red, which is considered lucky, than by wearing white, which is associated with death.

Personal Space

Personal space is the distance that you keep between yourself and another person. It varies widely between cultures.

  • In the United States, many people prefer to keep one to two meters’ space between friends and family members, and up to three meters between strangers and business associates. These preferences are similar in the United Kingdom, Norway, Germany, and other European countries.
  • The personal space requirements of Saudi Arabians are much lower: they often stand very close to one another, even those they don’t know well.
  • Chinese people and people from other Asian cultures are also typically used to less personal space than Westerners.

It’s important to understand the personal space requirements of a different culture, so that you’re not perceived as rude (by standing too far away) or pushy (by standing too close).

Personal space also includes touching. In Mediterranean and South American cultures, touching is an important part of conversation and connecting. If you don’t touch others, you’ll be considered cold. However, in Eastern countries, touching is often considered taboo, and you’ll offend your colleagues if you even pat them on the back or touch their arm.

Key Points

Cross-cultural awareness is an essential skill, regardless of whether you’re working overseas, leading a cross-cultural or virtual team, or dealing with a global customer base. Learn about the culture of the country where you’re doing business to avoid cultural mistakes, and to demonstrate respect and understanding.

Research key differences in decision making, relationships, dress, food, dining, and social etiquette before working with or traveling to a different culture. Your hosts will notice your efforts, and appreciate that you took the time to learn about their culture.

Via http://www.mindtools.com
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