I’ve assembled a few notes on the various meanings people ascribe to colours.
There’s a strong European bias in these notes,
reflecting the cultural heritage of many Australians.
Aboriginal meanings or Asian meanings are interesting and relevant to all Australians,
but most of these meanings are omitted from these notes as a result of my ignorance.
Like all websites, this is a work in progress,
so I expect to make additions and
over the next few years.
To read the notes, click in the colour patches.
Many meanings ascribed to a colour are culturally dependent.
The meanings are different in different places and at different times.
They are often subject to the whims of fashion.
The meanings ascribed to a colour are frequently contradictory,
even in the same place at the same time;
sometimes they are just
I find these ascribed meanings interesting;
I make no claims about their usefulness.
Some associations are quite convoluted.
In most English-speaking countries, a person with orange-brown hair is called a redhead.
In Australia, we’re likely to call such a person Bluey.
Redheads are stereotyped as people with fiery tempers.
In Australia, a blue means an argument or fight.
The complementary colour of orange-brown is a bright greenish blue.
Sometimes a meaning is only attributed to a colour with a more specific hue
or with particular set of qualities.
For example a pink will only be considered soft if it is light,
desaturated and more blue than orange.
Colour names are notoriously inconsistent.
In England, the bright red of the jackets worn by fox hunters
is called hunting pink,
and the scarlet of imperial robes is called royal purple
Sometimes red and black are equated.
Lewis Carroll referred to the black queen in chess as the
In some Balkan countries, red wine is called black wine ( crno vino).