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Color Meanings

Here we have some commonly used colors and their meanings. Please look at the color names and their meaning and know-how colors matter in real life.

Do you feel calm in a room with blue walls? Do you feel hopeful when you see yellow? Colors are a powerful tool of communication that can influence one's emotions, manipulate decision-making, and even evoke physiological reactions. Every morning, the moment we open our eyes, our brains are flooded with seven million colors.

Considering how exposed we are to colors, have you ever thought of the number of times we have given in to the influence of a color unconsciously? How are your mood, thoughts affected by color? There is an established field of science that can answer these questions called Color Psychology.

What is Color Psychology?

Before we dive into color Psychology, we first need to understand the basics of the concept of color. Famous scientist Sir Isaac Newton discovered that when pure white light passes through a prism, it separates into all visible colors.

Newton also found that each color has a particular wavelength and cannot be separated further into any more colors. However, much later, it was observed with light; new colors can be formed. For instance, a red light merged with yellow light creates an orange color.

Some colors, like green and magenta, cancel each other out when blended and result in white light. Understanding this would be a lot easier for those who paint and are regularly playing with colors.

Color Psychology is simply the study of colors as a determinant of human behavior. If effective use, color can send positive or negative messages, encourage sales, calm a crowd, or induce hunger. Because colors have a strong significance, they are used all over the world to denote various meanings.

What is Color Symbolism?

The art of studying the meanings of colors in the context of different cultures is called Color Symbolism.

Color plays a major role in setting expectations for a product and communicating its key characteristics. A single color may have many different meanings depending on the culture of a region.

Meanings are attributed to colors not only on a large scale societal level but also on an individual level. This is precisely why studying the meaning of colors is super subjective. Everyone perceives colors differently and has their own opinions about colors.

Colors Names and their Meanings:

Here we have some commonly used colors and their meanings. Please look at the color names and their meaning and know-how colors matter in real life.

Red Color Meaning:

In most cultures, red stands for passion and drama. This color is very stimulating and results in increased heart rate; therefore, it is commonly used to signify danger. Red is increasingly used in restaurants as it boosts appetite. Red manages to attract attention, making it the best color to be used in traffic signals to stop traffic.

Thanks to its power to attract attention, sports cars are usually sold in red. Rich in texture, red gets our pulses racing and consequently has a strong connection to sexuality. When exposed to red, people find their heart beating a little faster and often report feeling a bit out of breath.

In the color symbolism of Chinese cultures, red indicates the strength, courage. However, because of its stimulating properties, extensive exposure to red results in aggression and visual strain.

Some common cultural color symbolism of red are:

  • Red is believed to represent beauty in many cultures across the globe.
  • According to an ancient Chinese culture, the color red corresponds with a primary element, direction, and season - fire, south, and summer, respectively.
  • The Japanese relate the color red to a few deities in Shinto and Buddhist traditions. Therefore, statues of these deities are often decked in red clothing or painted red.
  • In Hindu, Islamic and Chinese cultures, it is considered good luck for the brides to wear red on their wedding day.
  • In many ancient civilizations, red amulets were worn as they are believed to prolong life.
  • The Hindu community associates red with joy, life, energy, and creativity.

Blue Color Meaning:

Blue stands for Trust and Loyalty. The lighter shade of blue, the color of the sky and the sea, is believed to make one feel calm and tranquil.

On the other hand, darker shades of blue instill confidence and a sense of responsibility. It has been observed that wearing blue to interviews could turn things in your favor.

Wearing blue makes one look trustworthy and responsible due to which, without their knowledge, interviewers tend to score candidates dressed in blue higher. Since blue has a calming effect and makes one feel relaxed, it also suppresses one's appetite. It is highly unlikely that you will find the color blue associated with food or restaurants.

A little too much of blue would push its effects from 'relaxing' to 'depressing.' For this reason, when someone is feeling down or depressed, it is said they are feeling "blue."

Here is some common color symbolism of blue:

  • In Greek culture, blue is believed to ward off the 'Evil Eye". This belief is so ingrained in a culture that Turkey, Greece, Iran, Afghanistan wear blue eye-shaped amulets even to date.
  • Generally, white and black are the colors of mourning. However, in Korea, dark blue is the color of mourning.
  • Although according to the common stereotype, the color blue is linked to boys, while pink is to girls. Belgium culture, on the other hand, associates blue with girls instead of boys.
  • In cultures across Ukraine and surrounding regions, blue denotes good health and immortality.

Green Color Meaning:

Associated with crops and harvests in India, green symbolizes growth and prosperity. When you think of nature in all its glory, you will be able to relate the color to the zest and renewal of life. Surrounded by green, being reminded of nature gives a feeling of safety and security.

The lighter shades of green are very soothing and have a calming effect on our minds. Darker shades of green have an entirely different effect on our emotions. Strong shades of green that cause discomfort to the viewer usually evoke jealousy, envy, and disgust. That is where the phrase 'Green-Eyed-Monster' comes from.

When sustainable development is the universal motto in today's age, green is the first go-to color advertising companies use to endorse eco-friendly products. The slogan 'Going Green' proves that green is now synonymous with economic development.

Symbolically speaking, green is the traditional color of Islam. The Islamic flag is green. Green is also cited in the Quran as the color of garments, cushions, and carpets in paradise.

The color green is taken rather seriously in Asian cultures. In Indonesia, the color is banned, and in China, green hats are taboo for men because it signals that their wives have committed adultery!

Yellow Color Meaning:

Yellow is best identified as the color of the universal life-giver - The Sun.

Quite naturally, it is a color-filled with optimism and energy. Exposure to yellow is believed to boost confidence and, consequently, one's chances of success.

Yellow triggers the left side of the brain, promoting clear thinking and quick decision making. Consequently, it supports memory, and communication enhances vision, confidence, and stimulates the nervous system.

Considering how bright it is, yellow manages to catch our attention before other colors. On the flip side, yellow makes some people over critical and anxious. It has been observed that babies cry more in rooms painted yellow.

The color is also associated with the virtue of cowardice. A little too much yellow could cause a loss of focus and make it hard to complete a task. Too little yellow evokes feelings of isolation and fear, insecurity, and low self-esteem. Absence or a lack of yellow can cause one to become rigid, cunning, possessive, or defensive.

Some color symbolism of the color yellow is:

  • Traditionally, women whose husbands have gone to war would wait for their husbands' return tying yellow ribbons as a mark of hope and optimism.
  • Calling someone ''yellow-bellied' is equivalent to accusing them of cowardice.
  • The phrase "yellow journalism" refers to bad or irresponsible reporting.
  • To summarize, yellow stands for hope, and happiness has conflicting associations.
  • On the one hand, yellow stands for positivity, energy, life, freshness, confidence, optimism, enlightenment, honor, loyalty, and joy, but on the other, it also shows cowardice and deceit.

Orange Color Meaning:

A vibrant combination of yellow and red is a blend of yellow's youthfulness and energy with red strength and courage.

Orange makes one feel excited, energetic, and warm. For the same reason, orange is extensively used in places that frequently host social get-togethers.

Orange symbolizes extrovertedness and pushes people to let go of their inhibitions and put themselves out there while exuding happiness and joy.

If you are looking forward to some motivation and zest for life, orange is your color. Because of its energy and youthfulness, younger generations connect with and prefer orange more than the older generations.

Considering that orange is filled with energy and excitement, it is no surprise that orange helps us go away from disappointments and despair, assisting in recovery from grief. Just like its parent color red, orange is so stimulating that even after a short amount of exposure, it manages to boost one's appetite. It is definitely not the color you would want in your kitchen if you plan to lose weight. Associated with the lowering of inhibitions, orange can encourage self-indulgence and exhibitionism.

Ever wondered why the usually calm saints and monks wear orange/saffron robes when the color actually stands for excitement and energy?

Many years ago, orange used to be the least expensive color dye and was, therefore, the best choice of color for saints and monks to promote simplicity and declare their disinterest in the materialistic way of life.

Moreover, in Hinduism, saffron is believed to signify the fire that burns all impurities.

Pink Color Meaning:

The passion of red and the purity of white come together to form a sweet, innocent color - Pink.

The lighter shades of pink that have a higher density of white refer to qualities such as tenderness, acceptance, and care. Therefore, light pink promotes a sense of safety and even vulnerability.

The darker shades of pink blended with a higher degree of red resonate with the emotions of passion, love, and romance. Because pink is connected to these qualities, it is considered to be very feminine.

In contrast, according to Japanese cultures, Nemitz, pink, is a masculine and mournful color representing young warriors who fall in battle while in the full bloom of life.

With a strong connection to tenderness and love, pink can remind one of earlier childhood memories, associated with nurturing and comfort from mother or a mother figure.

It is a common belief that pink gemstones bring about serenity, relaxation, acceptance, and contentment. They even manage to relieve one from frustration. However, pink is often criticized for promoting unrealistic thoughts and feelings and unreasonable optimism levels.

Associated continuously with qualities like tenderness and acceptance, Pink is written off for representing a lack of willpower, a lack of self-reliance, and a lack of self-worth.

Violet Color Meaning:

A color that symbolizes spirituality, violet, is a strong combination of red and blue. With the strength of red and the serenity of blue, violet evokes complex emotions. Violet instigates a sense of introspection and self-awareness. More often than not, it is linked to the image of compassionate, intuitive souls, introverts.

Violet symbolizes royalty, wealth, and power, and there is a good reason for it. In ancient times, purple dyes were rare and expensive. Only the rich and powerful can afford to wear this luxurious piece of clothing, hence its association with royalty and wealth.

Moreover, Violet is attributed to things that are considered delicate and precious as the color cannot be easily found in nature.

In the colors and their meanings topic, Lavender, orchid, lilac, and violet flowers are a few instances of violet naturally occurring in nature.

The symbolism of the color violet does not end here, and violet is significant in religion. In Christianity, violet is the liturgical color for the seasons of Advent and Lent. Since violet is a blend of warm color and a cool color, it has contrasting properties.

Lighter shades of violet, such as lavender, are feminine and represent wealthy, refined women. They are also believed to boost imagination, help counter mind blocks, and encourage new information learning.

On the other hand, darker shades of violet evoke feelings of gloom, sadness, and frustration.

Black Color Meaning:

Always used to hide, cover, and conceal, black is the most mysterious color in the color spectrum. Consequently, it symbolizes evil, death, mourning.

Black instills a feeling of pessimism and hopelessness. Religion backs this belief as Black represents sin in Catholic liturgy. Even a basic reading of color meanings would explain why black is the color choice for death and mourning in the West.

On the brighter side, black signifies power and control. Considered to be unfriendly and intimidating, there is an air of sophistication and elegance when one wears black. Black is so dark and rich, and it stands out among other colors; it does not conform. Therefore, any rebellious, factious ideology is best portrayed in black.

In short, the color black stands for power, sexuality, sophistication, formality, elegance, wealth, mystery, fear, evil, unhappiness, depth, style, sadness, remorse, anger, anonymity, underground, good technical color, mourning, death (Western cultures), austerity, detachment.

White Color Meaning:

White is actually the lack of color and is therefore considered to signify purity. The phrase "white as snow" is used to reference purity, cleanliness, and innocence.

Most commonly used to indicate a new beginning, white is also connected to innocence, light, goodness, heaven, safety, brilliance, illumination, understanding, cleanliness, faith, beginnings, sterility, spirituality, possibility, humility, sincerity, protection, softness, and perfection. When seen in the sense of heraldry, white depicts faith and purity.

As the exact opposite of black, white contrasts black in terms of color meanings; movies, books, and television shows typically depict the good guy in white and the bad guy in black.

White promotes clear thinking and decision making, as it gives out a vibe of freshness and renewal. Standing as a strong balance in the color spectrum, representing both the positive and negative aspects of all colors, white is the epitome of fairness, impartiality, and neutrality.

A mark of purity and innocence, white is the perfect choice for brides embarking on a new journey, and doctors serving to save lives.

White does have its share of negative connotations. In many cultures, white symbolizes isolation and emptiness. In many cultural texts, white is used to denote sterility, detachment, and disinterest, providing little stimulation for the senses.

Brown Color Meaning:

The first few images that pop into most peoples' minds when they hear 'Brown' are always earthly such as sand, tree bark, cliffs, etc. Because of Brown's close connection to the earth, it symbolizes stability, hearth, home, outdoors, reliability, comfort, endurance, simplicity, and comfort.

Believed to be responsible for the family unit's protection and support, with a keen sense of duty and responsibility, brown pushes one to take their obligations seriously.

Although considered a dull color by some, it represents steadfastness, simplicity, friendliness, dependability, and health. Brown evokes feelings of wholesomeness, stability, and peace. It is also an appetite stimulator like the color red. Although this is quite rare, some shades of brown can enhance sophistication and elegance.

Inherently a warm color, brown keeps us from acting out our emotions, creating a safe space from the stresses of the external world within which issues can be contemplated and solved. Brown is solid and instills a sense of strength and maturity.

Brown does not seek attention - it prefers to stay in the background, allowing other colors around it to shine. Often, because of its dull nature, brown is considered boring, dangerous, and frugal.

Lighter shades are considered to be trustworthy, friendly, and approachable, sincere.

In short, the color brown gives a sense of safety and comfort because of its earthy nature. It is quite calm and soothing. This could be understood as dull and boring by some.

Grey Color Meaning:

Grey is a fresh, neutral, and balanced. It is an unemotional color. It is impersonal, distant, impartial, and indecisive.

Evoking a sense of disinterest and lack of emotion, gray is solid and stable, evoking a sense of calm and composure, a much-needed relief from a chaotic world. As gray gets darker, it becomes mysterious and sophisticated.

Grey symbolizes conformity - it is conventional, dependable, and practical. By nature, grey is quiet and conservative. It has a steady effect on other colors with which it interacts, toning down the stronger and brighter colors and brightening the softer ones.

Most people are disinterested in gray - it relates to the corporate worker in the gray suit - conservative, dependable, legal and independent, and maybe boring.

Lighter shades of grey are considered to be soothing and calm. The darker shade, in sharp contrast, is conventional and constrained. It is serious and solemn, inflexible, and strict.

In short, grey is associated with reliable, conservative, dignified, neutral, impartial, professional, mature, intelligent, classic, solid, stable, calming, subdued, reserved, elegant, formal, and dependable.

Your journey of learning the significance of colors in different cultures has now come to an end. Hopefully, this brief introduction was good enough and heightened your interest in studying colors and their meanings. This is just the starting as there is a lot to discover.

Meanings attributed to colors is not a recent phenomenon and has existed through centuries. Thus, a deeper look into this field would be necessary to completely understand the origin of a color's meaning and practices today.