Want to understand color meanings?
When it comes to visual communication, there’s nothing faster than color to evoke a mood and elicit a reaction.
Color plays a part in virtually everything we experience. From the food we eat to the clothes we wear, color is at the heart of it.
Color meanings are the associations between colors and emotions. Or how colors affect us in different situations.
So how can we better understand color meanings and use them successfully?
Let’s get colorful!
Where Do Color Meanings Come From?
Color psychology is a blend of art and science. There’s no one definitive source for the meaning of colors. The meanings have evolved as we have, based on our experiences.
The emotions the colors evoke today might be different from those felt by ancient ancestors. Or they might be just the same!
Color meanings can vary from person to person due to personal preferences, but there are still plenty of common associations with different colors.
Let’s look at some differences first.
Color meaning can vary by culture and time
Another interesting thing about color meanings is that they can change by culture and time period.
Take red as an example: in China it is lucky but in South Africa, it is the color of mourning.
Black is the color of mourning in many Western countries, but it’s white in some East Asian nations.
The other factor that influences color meaning is time periods.
For many generations, pink was for girls and blue was for boys. People dressed their children to match, and crossing that line was rare.
But today we’re much more flexible about what color a child wears.
Shades and tints of colors
Shades and tints are variations of a color when black or white is added to them. These can be very different from the original and can have different associations.
After all, pink is a tint of red, but there’s a lot of difference in how the colors are perceived.
So when picking a color, it is important to understand the shades and tints and their subtle differences. We’ll dive into these in our in-depth color meaning articles.
The final thing to think about is color schemes, or combinations, and how the color meanings blend together.
There’s lots of color theory information about things like monochromatic or complementary color palettes. For more on this, you’ll want to check the in-depth articles on each individual color.
But it’s certainly worth considering if the color meanings will work well together in a design or environment. This can also be tempered by the proportion of the color used.
Take, for example, a relaxing pale aqua room. A dash of red in some wall art or throw pillows might be just right too keep it from feeling too bland.
On the other hand, if relaxation is the goal, nix the red entirely and go with white, soft pink, or shades of teal to accent. This will enhance the sense of serenity.
Now, let’s explore the color meanings one by one.
Red Color Meaning
What red means
Red is one of the three primary colors, along with yellow and blue.
Red is the color of passion and love in western cultures. It’s also associated with energy, since it’s a warm and powerful color.
The main meanings for red include:
- Danger and warning
- Energy and excitement
- Aggression, dominance, and power
- Passion and desire
Red often has negative connotations because of its connection with danger.
The color red around the world
In China, red is seen as a color of good fortune. That’s why Chinese brides often wear red dresses.
Indian traditions view the color in similar ways, seeing it as a color of purity. So again here, it is popular for wedding dresses.
To learn more about red, its tints and shades, and how to use it in life and marketing, read Red Color Meaning.
This chart of red color codes will help you embrace the right red.
To rouse others to love red more, try these quotes about red.
Purple Color Meaning
What purple means
Purple is an important secondary color that combines red and blue. It’s most often associated with wealth, and particularly with royalty.
Bravery is another important purple association, which is why the Purple Heart is the top military award for bravery in the U.S.
The main meanings for purple include:
- A royal color
- Wisdom, bravery, and spirituality
- Unique and exotic
The color purple around the world
Purple is also associated with nobility in many Asian cultures.
But it is the color of mourning in Thailand, as well as in countries such as Brazil and some parts of Europe.
To learn more about purple, its tints and shades, and how to use it in life and marketing, read Purple Color Meaning.
Pick the perfect purple from this page of 40 purple color codes.
Blue Color Meaning
What blue means
Blue is the color of the sky and is often seen as calm and serene.
It is also the shade we associate with water.
The main associations with blue include:
- Conservative and traditional
- Calmness and serenity
- Sadness or aloofness
- Stability and reliability
The color blue around the world
For many eastern cultures, blue is associated with healing and immortality, while in some European countries, it wards off evil.
It is the color of safety and protection in the Middle East.
To learn more about blue, its tints and shades, and how to use it in life and marketing, read Blue Color Meaning.
Then pick the best blue from these blue color codes.
Green Color Meaning
What green means
Green is the color of nature and is often seen as peaceful and restful.
It is associated with growth, fertility, and new beginnings.
The main associations with green include:
- Fresh and natural
- Growth and fertility
- Wealth and abundance
- Peaceful and calming
The color green around the world
Green has different meanings in different cultures but is often seen as a positive color.
In Ireland, green is associated with luck, while in the Middle East, it represents wealth and success.
To learn more about green, its tints and shades, and how to use it in life and marketing, read Green Color Meaning.
Then go green by choosing from 40 green color codes.
Yellow Color Meaning
What yellow means
Bright yellow is the color of the sun and is often seen as happy and optimistic.
It is also associated with caution and danger.
The main associations with yellow include:
- Happiness and optimism
- Caution and danger
- Intellect and energy
- Friendliness and approachability
Yellow is the color for emojis and smile quotes! They’re fun way to share happiness and joy.
The color yellow around the world
In Japan, yellow is the color of royalty, and in many Asian cultures, it is seen as a sacred color.
In Egypt, it is the color of mourning.
To learn more about yellow, its tints and shades, and how to use it in life and marketing, read Yellow Color Meaning.
Before you say yay or yuck to yellow, check out the variety of yellow color codes.
Orange Color Meaning
What orange means
Orange is a mixture of red and yellow and is often seen as a happy and friendly color.
It is also associated with creativity and confidence.
The main associations with orange include:
- Happiness and friendliness
- Creativity and confidence
- Energy and excitement
The color orange around the world
In China, orange is associated with good luck and prosperity.
In India, saffron orange is associated with Hinduism and is considered a sacred color.
In Latin America, it is seen as the color of the sun and earth.
To learn more about orange, its tints and shades, and how to use it in life and marketing, read Orange Color Meaning.
Then opt for the optimal orange with this chart of 22 orange color codes.
Black Color Meaning
What black means
Black is the darkest color and is often seen as a color of mystery or evil.
It is also associated with power and sophistication.
The main associations with black include:
- Mystery and evil
- Power and sophistication
- Grief and death
- Formality and wealth
The color black around the world
In many cultures, black is associated with death and mourning, such as in the Middle East and Latin and South American countries.
In China, it is the color for young boys, while in Japan it is a feminine color.
To learn more about black, its tints and shades (really!), and how to use it in life and marketing, read Black Color Meaning.
Then you can choose from 20 black hex codes.
Pink Color Meaning
What pink means
Pink is a combination of red and white and is often seen as a romantic or feminine color.
It is also associated with caring and compassion.
The main associations with pink include:
- Romance and femininity
- Caring and compassion
- Gentleness and sweetness
The color pink around the world
In Korea, it is a color of trust and is a feminine shade for many Asian countries.
It is a popular color for buildings in Latin American countries.
To learn more about pink, its tints and shades, and how to use it in life and marketing, read Pink Color Meaning.
Then pick the perfect pink from this palette of pink color codes.
Or peruse pink quotes to share your love of this rosy color!
White Color Meaning
What white means
White is the lightest color and is often seen as a color of purity and innocence.
It is also associated with cleanliness and simplicity.
The main associations with white include:
- Purity and innocence
- Cleanliness and simplicity
- Neutrality and calmness
The color white around the world
In China, white is associated with death and mourning, while in Africa it is the color of purity and innocence.
In many Western countries, it is seen as the color of weddings and brides. But in Italy, white is used for funerals.
To learn more about the meaning of white, and how it works in life and marketing, read White Color Meaning.
Check it out! You can choose from 70 white hex codes!
Gray Color Meaning
What gray means
Gray is a neutral color that is often seen as calm and sophisticated.
It is also associated with sadness and boredom.
The main associations with gray (or grey) include:
- Calmness and sophistication
- Sadness and boredom
- Neutrality and balance
The color gray around the world
In France, gray is seen as a color of elegance and is often used in fashion.
In Germany, it is associated with sadness and is often used in art to depict rainy days.
And in the UK it’s spelled grey.
To learn more about gray, its tints and shades, and how to use it in life and marketing, read Gray Color Meaning. (coming soon)
Go for the greatest grays! Choose from these gray color codes.
Brown Color Meaning
What brown means
Brown is a neutral color that is often seen as warm and earthy.
It is also associated with reliability and stability.
The main associations with brown include:
- Warmth and earthiness
- Reliability and stability
- Friendliness and approachability
The color brown around the world
In Japan, brown is associated with nature and is often used in wood-based designs.
In India, it is seen as a sacred color and is often used in religious ceremonies.
If you want to learn more about the meaning of brown, its tints and shades, and how to use it in life and marketing, leave a comment!
Or pick the best brown from this chart of brown color codes.
Teal or Turquoise Color Meaning
What teal and turquoise mean
Teal is a combination of blue and green and is often seen as a calming or refreshing color.
It is also associated with nature and health.
The main associations with teal include:
- Calmness and refreshment
- Nature and health
- Mental and physical healing
- Boastfulness and narcissism
The color teal around the world
In many cultures, teal is associated with nature and is often used in designs that represent water or the sky.
In Australia, it is seen as a lucky color and is often used in sports teams’ uniforms.
If you want to learn more about the meaning of teal, give me a shoutout in a comment – I could write a deep dive article as for the colors above.
Gold Color Meaning
What gold means
Gold is a warm color that is often seen as luxurious and opulent.
It is also associated with success and wealth.
The main associations with gold include:
- Luxury and opulence
- Success and wealth
- Prosperity and status
The color gold around the world
In China, gold is seen as a symbol of good luck and is often used in weddings.
In many Western countries, it is associated with success and power. In Greece, it is used to ward off evil.
To pick the right gold to use in your designs and marketing, check out 40+ gold hex codes.
Silver Color Meaning
What silver means
Silver is a cool color that is often seen as glamorous and modern.
It is also associated with moonlight and mystery.
The main associations with silver include:
- Glamour and modernity
- Mystery and moonlight
- Sensuality and femininity
The color silver around the world
In China, silver is seen as a symbol of wealth and is often used in decorations.
In Mexico, it is associated with the goddess of love and is often used in marriage ceremonies.
Colors and Their Meanings
Color meanings have a long history and can change at different times.
We also learned how colors can mean different things around the world.
By understanding how colors affect us, we can choose everything from interior design colors to our clothes.
And if you use them in marketing, you can appeal to your ideal audience on a basic level with the right colors. Be sure to learn the meanings of business colors.
What’s your favorite color? And what color naturally repels you? You can also learn what your favorite color says about you.
I hope that knowing more about color meanings will help you choose wisely!