How Colors Got Their Names


As different societies developed names for colors, across the globe, isolated cultures went about naming the colors, but weirdly, they all generally did it in the same order. Called the hierarchy of color names, the order was generally (with a few exceptions): black, white, red, green, yellow, and blue with others like brown, purple and pink coming at various times afterward.

Recent research in this area has demonstrated that this hierarchy matches humans reaction to different frequencies in the visible spectrum; that is, the stronger our reaction to that color’s frequency, the earlier it was named in the culture.

Want more specifics? Try these for English:

  • Black – Derived from words meaning “dark”, “ink” and “to burn” or “blazing”.
  • White – Derived from words meaning “bright”.
  • Green – Derived from “grown”, also meaning “young” or “immature”.
  • Orange – Derived from Sanskrit word for the fruit. Meaning, the color was named after the fruit, not the fruit for the color.

Via Gizmodo.

This entry was posted in Culture, History by Heretic. Bookmark the permalink.

About Heretic

I design video games for a living, write fiction, political theory and poetry for personal amusement, and train regularly in Western European 16th century swordwork. On frequent occasion I have been known to hunt for and explore abandoned graveyards, train tunnels and other interesting places wherever I may find them, but there is absolutely no truth to the rumor that I am preparing to set off a zombie apocalypse. Nothing that will stand up in court, at least. I use paranthesis with distressing frequency, have a deep passion for history, anthropology and sociological theory, and really, really, really hate mayonnaise. But I wash my hands after the writing. Promise.

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