The Color Thesaurus

I love to collect words. Making word lists can help to find the voice of my story, dig into the emotion of a scene, or create variety.

One of my on-going word collections is of colors. I love to stop in the paint section of a hardware store and find new names for red or white or yellow.  Having a variety of color names at my fingertips helps me to create specificity in my writing. I can paint a more evocative image in my reader’s mind if I describe a character’s hair as the color of rust or carrot-squash, rather than red.

So for fun, I created this color thesaurus for your reference. Of course, there are plenty more color names  in the world, so, this is just to get you started.

Fill your stories with a rainbow of images!

white

Tan

yellow

Orange

Red

pink

Purple

Blue

Green

brown

Grey

black

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117 thoughts on “The Color Thesaurus

    • Yes, cyan would also work for that color. But arctic could be a more evocative word, depending on the context of the sentence and story. The point of this color thesaurus wasn’t to 100% match the word with the color, so much as explore different evocative and sensual word choices that push past one’s first word choice of blue.

  1. Hello Ingrid!

    I just love this! I am a Makeup Artist obsessed with Color Theory, so this just lit my fire!

    Thank you so much. I shared it in Social Media with links to your blog. :-)

  2. Reblogged this on Sarvodaya and commented:
    The nuances of color are as fascinating as they are practical. Whether you’re an artist, writer, or just someone who enjoys word collecting, this is great to have on hand.

  3. I appreciation for word list also. I have large notebooks filled with them. Thank you for sharing your color list. It will come in very handy.

    You have my favorite color in your hair, purple. I think people look outstandingly with unusual hair colors. Don’t change it because it makes you look unique.

  4. I can’t thank you enough for sharing these. These would be excellent printed and hung on the wall besides my story board. I thank you, and my readers thank you. ;)

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  6. This is fantastic! Kids often don’t know what a color word means, so this would be great to help them use color words more precisely in their writing. The only one that threw me was sapphire, which is my birthstone. I always associated it with a deep, cool blue instead of the more tealish color on the chart.

    Thanks again for a great resource. Pinning for sure!

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  10. Oh, wow, these charts are incredibly helpful. I prefer writing in English, but it is not my native language … So even though my vocabulary has grown leaps and bounds since I started writing in English, every now and then I struggle a little when it comes to descriptions. Thank you so much for creating and sharing these!

  11. Thank you very much for this, our daughter has difficulties with imagery – this will definitely be a joy for her to learn that she can always place a name to a color and bank it into her memory.

  12. Ingrid, just discovered this and appreciate this information. I have posted it on my Pinterest Home Staging board (www.pinterest.com/palmbeachliving) and on Google+. Thanks for writing about this and creating this information. Eileen
    PalmBeachesHomeStaging.com

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  14. Was just pointed to this and …. Wow! I was compelled to look for one of my favorite colors since I was a kid — and there it was. Magenta, the word, on Magenta the color, not on some other bright pinky red that is *not* the color I love.

    • John! I love this link. Thank you for sharing more great color names. An naming is always subjective. Plus we all see color differently due to our color acuity. So what I see as pink, you might see a peach. But I adore this link!

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  16. Lovely. I disagreed with some of the names. But lovely anyway. I’m guessing no two people who really love colour would totally agree on what each could be called.
    Black was interesting because I could only differentiate a few of them. And I thought this must be how men perceive colours…

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  19. I love this! I’m an artist whose work primarily deals with color. Have you thought about turning this concept into a poster? If you make a poster, please let me know. I’d likely buy one to put in a child’s room. Nice concept!

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  21. I have a five year old who wants to become a “book writer” and is in love with her thesaurus. I am going to print these off so she can save them to memory. Cheers!

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    • Hi Xaraxia,

      Jade is a stone that comes in many colors (yes, green is the most prominent). But it also comes in black, white, blue, purple, and red as well. You’re right, most people will associate jade with green. However, my personal association with jade is a black color (and this is a subjective color thesaurus). I used to love looking at the ancient Chinese sculptures made of black jade at the museum near the art school I went to.

      • Ah, fair enough. I was thinking of it from the perspective of writing for someone else, so I was thinking colour names rather than what jade actually is.

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