204 Words That Describe Colours

204 Words That Describe Colours – A Resource For Writers


Writers Write is your one-stop writing resource. This post includes interesting facts about colours and a selection of words writers can use to describe colours.

Writers use the five senses when they write. We are able to see, smell, hear, taste, and touch exactly what the characters in the story experience.

I have written about words that describe tastetouchsound, and smell in previous posts.

One of the best ways to describe what we see is through colour and in this post, I have included words that describe colours.

Note: ‘colour’ is British spelling and ‘color’ is American spelling.

What Is Colour?

Collins Dictionary says: ‘The colour of something is the appearance that it has as a result of the way in which it reflects light.’

The visible spectrum of colour as we see it, consists of seven main colours:

But we can only see three of these visible colours: red, blue, green. These three colours are mixed in our brain to create all of the other colours we see.

Colour Affects Us

Colour affects our moods. For example, blue is calm, red is aggressive, pink suppresses anger and anxiety, bright yellow is the most irritating colour because of its excessive stimulation on the eye. Colours also affect consumers.

According to Sally Augustin in an article in Psychology Today, research has shown the “powers” of particular colours.

She writes about five colours:

  1. “Green: Seeing the colour green has been linked to more creative thinking—so greens are good options for home offices, art studios, etc.
  2. Red: People seeing others in front of red backgrounds generally find those other individuals are more attractive than when they see them silhouetted against other colours, so reds are great for a bedroom wall. Having a red surface in view also gives us a burst of strength, so reds are good choices for home gym areas, etc. Seeing red has been linked to impaired analytical reasoning, though, making it a bad option for offices.
  3. Violet: People link a greyish violet with sophistication, so it can be a good selection for places where you’re trying to make the “right” impression.
  4. Yellow: Using yellow in a home can be problematic. Many people dislike the colour, so if you have a lot of yellow rooms in your home or a yellow front door, you may be advised to repaint to get the best price for your home should you sell. An exception: Many people use yellow in kitchens—with no negative sales repercussions. Yellow may be accepted in kitchens because warm colours stimulate our appetite.
  5. Blue: People are more likely to tell you that blue is their favourite colour than any other shade. That makes it a safe choice. Seeing blue also brings thoughts of trustworthiness to mind; always a good thing.”

Writing Tips

  1. A character who lives in a colourful home is very different to one who lives in a monochromatic home. The use of colour can help you to show who the characters are.
  2. A colour-blind character can add an interesting twist to a story.
  3. A character with chromophobia has an irrational fear of colours. This can stop them from performing daily activities and can affect their lives.
  4. A bleak, grey setting works well for a crime scene. A sepia-tinged setting works for memoirs. A vivid setting works well for romance. Use colours to set the mood for your books.

207 Words That Describe Colours

General Colour-Related Words

  1. ablaze – bright and full of light or colour
  2. a riot of  [colour] – a lot of different bright colours together
  3. bleached – made very pale by chemicals or strong sunlight
  4. bleak – gloomy; sombre
  5. blotchy – discoloured, patchy
  6. bold – very bright, clear, or strong in colour and therefore easy to notice
  7. brash – big, bright, or colourful in a way that is not attractive
  8. bright – strong but not dark
  9. brilliant – vivid, intense
  10. chintzy – too colourful and in poor taste
  11. clean – light and fresh
  12. cold – colours such as white, blue, and grey that make you think of things that are cold
  13. colour-coded – marked with different colours to make it easy to see different features or uses
  14. colourful – has bright colours or a lot of different colours
  15. cool – cool colours, such as white and blue, give an idea of cold instead of heat. Colours with blue or green in them are called cool colours
  16. dappled – covered with or forming areas of lighter and darker colour or light and shadow
  17. dark – strong and not pale in colour
  18. deep – dark and strong
  19. delicate – pleasant and not too strong
  20. discoloured – changed in colour and no longer looks new, clean, or healthy
  21. dusty – used for describing a colour that is not bright because it has some grey in it
  22. electric – bright, metallic
  23. fast – colours that are fast will not become paler when clothes are washed
  24. festive – bright and colourful in a way that makes you think of a celebration
  25. fiery – very bright in colour, especially bright red, orange, or yellow
  26. flamboyant – brightly coloured or decorated
  27. flaming – brightly coloured red, orange, or yellow
  28. fluorescent – very bright and seems to reflect light
  29. fresh – clean colours
  30. gay – brightly-coloured or attractive
  31. glistening – sparkling or shining like glitter
  32. glittering – shining; sparkling
  33. glowing – glowing colours are bright and look warm
  34. harmonious – harmonious colours or parts combine well with each other
  35. harsh – very bright
  36. iridescent – showing changing colours in different types of light
  37. jazzy – bright, colourful, and attractive
  38. loud – very bright in a way that does not show good taste
  39. matching – with the same colour, pattern, or design
  40. medium – neither light nor dark in colour
  41. mellow – soft and warm in colour
  42. multicoloured – consisting of several different colours
  43. opalescent – seems always to be changing colour slightly
  44. pastel – having a pale soft colour
  45. prismatic – multi-coloured, brilliant, bright
  46. psychedelic – brightly coloured and have big unusual patterns
  47. pure – a pure colour is very clear and beautiful
  48. restrained – not too bright in colour, or not decorated too much
  49. rich – strong in a pleasant way
  50. sepia – sepia photographs are old and are a red-brown colour
  51. showy – brightly coloured and attractive
  52. soft – pale, gentle and pleasant to look at
  53. sombre – dark in colour, especially grey or black
  54. splashy – brightly coloured
  55. tinged – something that is tinged with a colour, feeling, or quality contains a small amount of it
  56. tinted – containing a small amount of a particular colour
  57. two-tone – two-tone shoes or clothes have two colours
  58. vibrant – bright and colourful
  59. violent – very bright and almost painful to look at
  60. vivid – a vivid colour is strong and bright
  61. warm – warm colours have red, orange, or yellow in them.
  62. watery – pale

Words That Describe A Lack Of Colour

  1. colourless – dull or lacking in colour
  2. dotted – a series of small spots or marks
  3. faded – less bright
  4. flecked – having a spot or small patch of colour
  5. light – lacking brightness or saturation
  6. monochromatic – having one colour
  7. monotone – all one colour
  8. muted – subdued or softened colours
  9. neutral – having very little colour
  10. opaque – incapable of allowing light to pass through
  11. pale – something light in colour or washed out
  12. primary – basic colour
  13. rustic – plain; simple
  14. tinged – a small amount of colour
  15. tinted – slightly coloured
  16. translucent – allowing light to pass through
  17. transparent – clear; see-through
  18. watery – containing too much water; diluted

Words That Describe Specific Colours

  1. alabaster – very white and smooth.
  2. amber – between brown and yellow in colour.
  3. amethyst – light purple.
  4. apricot – a shade of pink tinged with yellow
  5. avocado – with a pale green colour.
  6. ash – the colour of ash
  7. azure – bright blue.
  8. baby-blue – light blue in colour.
  9. beige – very pale brown in colour
  10. black – having the darkest colour, like the sky at night when there is no light
  11. blue – something that is blue is the same colour as the sky on a clear sunny day.
  12. bluish – similar to blue or slightly blue in colour
  13. bone – a shade of white the colour of a bleached skeleton
  14. bottle green – very dark green
  15. bronze – an attractive brown colour
  16. brown – something that is brown is the same colour as wood or coffee
  17. brownish – similar to brown or slightly brown in colour
  18. burgundy – dark red
  19. canary – having the colour of a canary; of a light to moderate yellow
  20. caramel – light yellowish-brown in colour
  21. cerise – bright red-pink in colour
  22. chalk – a pure flat white
  23. charcoal – something that is charcoal is dark grey in colour
  24. chartreuse – bright green-yellow in colour
  25. cherry – a red the colour of ripe cherries
  26. cinnamon – light red-brown in colour
  27. claret – dark red in colour
  28. cobalt blue – a shade of blue tinged with green
  29. copper – red-brown in colour
  30. coral – with a colour between pink and orange
  31. cream – yellowish-white in colour
  32. crimson – dark purple-red in colour
  33. Day-Glo – extremely bright yellow, orange, pink, or green in colour
  34. dove-grey – light grey in colour
  35. dun – between brown and grey in colour
  36. ebony – dark black in colour
  37. ecru – very pale brown
  38. eggshell – like an eggshell, for example white-yellow in colour, not very shiny, or thin and delicate
  39. electric blue – very bright blue
  40. emerald – bright green in colour
  41. fawn – light brown in colour
  42. flesh-coloured – the colour of white people’s skin
  43. gold – something that is gold is the colour of gold
  44. golden – bright yellow in colour
  45. green – something that is green is the same colour as grass.
  46. greenish – similar to green or slightly green in colour
  47. greige – between very pale brown and grey in colour
  48. grey – between black and white in colour (gray – the American spelling of grey)
  49. hazel – light brown and slightly green or golden in colour, used especially for describing someone’s eyes
  50. ice blue – a very light blue colour
  51. indigo – between dark blue and purple in colour
  52. inky – mainly literary black, or a very dark colour
  53. iron-grey – dark grey in colour
  54. ivory – something that is ivory is a yellowish-white colour
  55. jet-black – very shiny and black in colour
  56. lavender – light purple in colour
  57. leaden – dull and dark grey in colour
  58. lilac – pale purple in colour
  59. lily-white – pure white
  60. lime-green – bright yellow-green in colour
  61. livid – mainly literary dark purple or blue-grey in colour
  62. magenta – purple-red in colour
  63. maroon – dark red-brown in colour
  64. mauve – pale purple in colour
  65. milk-white – the colour of milk
  66. milky – the colour of milk
  67. navy blue – very dark blue
  68. nut-brown – medium brown in colour
  69. off-white – slightly yellow or grey
  70. olive – dark yellowish green in colour
  71. olive – dark grey-green in colour, like many military uniforms
  72. orange – between red and yellow in colour
  73. orangey – similar to orange or slightly orange in colour
  74. peach – yellowish pink in colour
  75. peacock blue – dark blue-green in colour
  76. pea green – bright green in colour
  77. pink – between red and white in colour
  78. pinkish – similar to pink or slightly pink in colour
  79. pitch-black – completely black or dark
  80. plum – between red and purple in colour
  81. puce – between dark brown or dark red and purple
  82. purple – between red and blue in colour
  83. purplish – similar to purple or slightly purple in colour
  84. red – the same colour as blood
  85. reddish – similar to red, or slightly red
  86. rose – dark pink in colour
  87. roseate – pink in colour
  88. rose-coloured – pink in colour
  89. rosy – pink in colour
  90. royal blue – deep blue
  91. ruby – a deep red colour
  92. ruddy – red in colour
  93. russet – red-brown in colour
  94. rusty – red-brown in colour
  95. saffron – between bright yellow and orange in colour
  96. salmon – orange tinged with pink
  97. sandy – pale yellow in colour
  98. scarlet – bright red in colour
  99. sea-green – green-blue in colour
  100. sepia – something that is sepia is a red-brown colour
  101. shocking pink – very bright pink in colour
  102. silver – light grey in colour
  103. silvery – like silver in colour or appearance
  104. sky-blue – the colour of the sky on a bright clear day
  105. smoky – light grey in colour
  106. snow-white – very white
  107. sooty – black or dusky in colour
  108. steely – steely blue is grey-blue in colour
  109. straw-coloured – pale brown-yellow in colour
  110. tan – light brown in colour
  111. taupe – a brown-grey colour
  112. tawny – between yellow and brown in colour
  113. teal – between blue and green in colour
  114. terracotta – brown-red in colour
  115. turquoise – bright green-blue in colour
  116. ultramarine – very bright blue in colour
  117. umber – yellow or reddish brown in colour
  118. vermilion – bright red or red-orange in colour
  119. violet a- blue-purple in colour
  120. white – something that is white is the same colour as milk or snow
  121. whitish – similar to white or slightly white in colour
  122. wine – something that is wine is a dark red colour
  123. yellow a- something that is yellow is the same colour as the middle of an egg
  124. yellowish – similar to yellow or slightly yellow in colour

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 by Amanda Patterson

© Amanda Patterson

If you enjoyed this post, read:

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  4. 75 Words That Describe Smells
  5. 106 Ways To Describe Sounds
  6. 20 Words Used To Describe Specific Tastes And Flavours
  7. 209 Words To Describe Touch
  8. Three Simple Ways To Show And Not Tell
  9. 12 Crucial Things To Remember About Setting

Sources:
https://grammar.yourdictionary.com/grammar/word-lists/list-of-words-to-describe-colors.html
https://www.macmillandictionary.com/thesaurus-category/british/words-used-to-describe-specific-colours
https://www.macmillandictionary.com/thesaurus-category/british/general-words-used-to-describe-colours

This article has 2 comments

  1. barry mcdonald

    Great post, I especially loved the idea you mentioned of a colour blind character, something I never considered before – that would make an interesting disability to write about. The one thing I’d be afraid of is getting too carried away with colours and mentioning something that would pull the reader out of the book, wondering ‘What color is that?’

  2. Writers Write

    Thank you, Barry. Let us know if you write about a colour-blind character. We agree that adding too much colour would be a bad thing.

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