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Colors are one of the first things we learn in English.
Here is a list of color names in English for you. Not all colors are included because there are simply far too many color names.
There are twelve main colors on the RYB color wheel. They are divided into primary, secondary and tertiary colors.
What are primary colors?
Primary colors are colors that cannot be made by mixing other colors.
Red, yellow, and blue are the three primary colors.
What are secondary colors?
Secondary colors are those that can be created by combining two primary colors.
Secondary Colors: orange, green and purple.
What are tertiary colors?
Tertiary colors are those that can be created by mixing a primary color with an adjacent secondary color.
Tertiary Colors: red-orange, yellow-orange, blue-green, blue-violet, yellow-green and red-violet.
What are the 12 color names?
In the RGB color wheel (used for mixing colors online) the main colors we use are: red, orange, yellow, chartreuse green, green, spring green, cyan, azure, blue, violet, magenta, rose.
In the RYB color wheel (used by artists for mixing colors): red, yellow, blue, orange, green, purple, red-orange, yellow-orange, blue-green, blue-purple, yellow-green and red-purple.
Red is the color of blood and wine. It symbolizes positive feelings like passion, love, and happiness. However, it can also symbolize negative feelings like anger and hatred.
Orange is a mix between red and yellow. It symbolizes the autumn season. It is also associated with warmth, health, sunshine and adventure. Darker orange hues may be associated with untrustworthiness.
Yellow is the color of fire and gold. It represents joy, energy, happiness, intellect, honor, obedience, sunshine (light), and summer. However, it can also symbolize betrayal and cowardice.
Chartreuse green is a mix of yellow and green. It symbolizes hope, decay, and jealousy.
Green is the color of leaves and grass. It represents fertility, youth, peace, inexperience, hope, money (as in bank notes), nature, envy, springtime, wealth (in general), good luck, bad luck (depending on the context) freshness. However, it can also represent envy, jealousy, and sickness.
Spring green is a mix of yellow and green. Spring green is often used to represent the green movement and used in environmental literature for water conservation.
Cyan is a mix of the colors blue and green. It symbolizes water, ice, tranquility, agreement, understanding, relaxation.
Azure is a mix of cyan and blue. It symbolizes hope, health, serenity, heaven, loyalty, devotion, wisdom, the sky.
Blue is made by removing red and green. It symbolizes depression, sadness, betrayal, coldness, isolation, loneliness. However, it can also represent calmness, intelligence and knowledge.
Violet is a mix of the colors red and blue. It has more blue undertones than purple. It symbolizes imagination, magic, mystery and wisdom. It balances and uplifts us. Some of its flaws include arrogance and sensitivity.
Magenta is a mix of violet and red. It symbolizes harmony, practicality and balance. People often fall in love with it at first sight; however, it can also act as a demanding, dominant color.
Rose is a mix of the colors red, blue and white. Rose is actually a shade of red, not pink. It symbolizes joy, love (in general), friendship. Rose has softer shades of red so it doesn’t have the same negative connotation as red’s fiery side.
Other Color Names
Maroon: a mix between red and brown. It symbolizes beauty and passion.
Brown: a mix between red, yellow, and blue. It represents resilience and dependability.
Olive green: a mix between blue, yellow and red. It often symbolizes peace and self-love.
Fuchsia is a mix between red, purple and pink. It symbolizes joy, confidence, bravery. Although it’s considered a feminine color, it is suitable for men too.
Aqua blue: a mix between cyan and light green. You can make it by mixing light blue and green with yellow. It symbolizes revitalization and dreams.
Black: black means authority, power, elegance, fashion. However, it can also represent death or evil. Sometimes in religious texts, black represents sin.
Grey: a mix between white and black. It can symbolize the wisdom and experience that comes with age.
White: white means peace, freshness, cleanliness. However, it can also represent isolation and coldness. Sometimes in religious texts, white represents holiness.
Gold: a mix between yellow and brown. It symbolizes power, wealth, value, fame.
Pink: a mix between red and white. It symbolizes joy, feminity, innocence.
Teal: a mix of green, blue and yellow. It symbolizes nature and balance.
Scarlet: a red, sometimes with an orange tint. It represents devotion and religion.
Peach: a mix between red and yellow. It symbolizes fertility and longevity.
Lime green: a mix of blue and yellow. It symbolizes confidence and health.
Silver: a mix of black and white. It symbolizes focus, power, strength. It also has negative connotations such as lying and cheating.
Lavender: a mix between purple and white. It symbolizes love and devotion. However, the negative is that it lacks a sense of urgency.
Mauve: a mix between blue, red and purple. It symbolizes innovation, feminity, innocence. However, it can also represent shyness.
Tan: a mix between brown and yellow. It symbolizes comfort, the earth and stability. However, it can also represent segregation and solitude.
Berry: a mix between red and a little green and blue. Berries had many different meanings in the past, often thought to represent life and blood in folklore.
Yellow ochre: a mix between yellow, red and black. It often had religious associations and was likened to gold. However, it can also represent cowardice.
Beige: a mix between brown and white. It symbolizes trustworthiness and dependability.
Orchid: a mix between red, blue, white and black. It symbolizes admiration, respect and dignity. The orchid flower was seen in connection with royalty.
Turquoise: a mix between green and blue. It symbolizes protection and hope. Sometimes in religious texts, turquoise represents God’s healing.
Bronze: a mix between brown and gold. It symbolizes strength and stability.
Mint: a mix between green and white. It symbolizes virtue.
Cultural Associations with Colors
Red can also symbolize communism. You can find the color in the flags of the Soviet Union and China, for example.
In China, the color of mourning is white. However, black is associated with funerary rituals and death in many western countries (such as France and Belgium).
In Japan, it is believed that red can protect from disaster and harm. You can find red all over the Japanese temples and sacred buildings.
Primary, secondary and tertiary make up the twelve color names, used by artists when mixing paints. These common color names in English come with their own symbolism and meanings and can stir new emotions within us!
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Caitriona Maria is an education writer and founder of TPR Teaching, crafting inspiring pieces that promote the importance of developing new skills. For 7 years, she has been committed to providing students with the best learning opportunities possible, both domestically and abroad. Dedicated to unlocking students' potential, Caitriona has taught English in several countries and continues to explore new cultures through her travels.