Color differentiation

A tip of the biretta to Mark Shea and Mike Flynn for this chuckle.  o{]:¬)

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Random Friar says:

    Pink, unless it is on a vestment. Then that whole band of the spectrum becomes “Rose,” if I recall correctly.

    Ah yes, Sea Foam. I recognize that color. I know it as “what hideous color brides inflict on all their bridesmaids for volunteering to serve at their weddings.”

  2. I think this is reversed for many guys when it comes to car colors. Guys who are car nuts would immediately recognize “Plum Crazy” or “Hemi Orange”, but women would just see them as purple or bright orange.

  3. introibo says:

    Then I guess paint companies hire women to make up all those dumb names for their paint shades.

  4. AnAmericanMother says:

    They left out my two faves: Nile green and mauve.

    What’s the matter with these people?


  5. benyanke says:


  6. IS says:

    We know Violet vs Purple & Pink vs Rose… but only at certain times of the year.

  7. joanofarcfan says:

    Where is puce? I feel left out.

  8. AnAmericanMother says:

    An interesting observation from the old Straight Dope column on languages and the names of colors:

    Brent Berlin and Paul Kay (Basic Color Terms: Their Universality and Evolution, 1969) . . . suggest that there is a remarkable degree of uniformity in the way different cultures assign color names. In a study of 98 languages from a variety of linguistic families, they found the following “rules” seem to apply:

    1. All languages contain terms for white and black.

    2. If a language contains three terms, then it contains a term for red.

    3. If a language contains four terms, then it contains a term for either green or yellow (but not both).

    4. If a language contains five terms, then it contains terms for both green and yellow.

    5. If a language contains six terms, then it contains a term for blue.

    6. If a language contains seven terms, then it contains a term for brown.

    7. If a language contains eight or more terms, then it contains a term for purple, pink, orange, grey, or some combination of these.

    Berlin and Kay also found that the number of basic color terms tends to increase with the complexity of the civilization.

    Hmmmmmmm . . . .

  9. edwardo3 says:

    What if you are a male Art Historian? Though I have never heard of most of the girl color names. Lead White, Cadmium Yellow, Ultramarine Blue, Raw Sienna yes, but Honeydew melon, nope.

  10. Andrew says:

    Isn’t that the truth?! I don’t even try to talk colors to my dear wife. It’s almost like she speak another language when it comes to colors. Words I’ve never heard before!

  11. ghp95134 says:

    In Japan a lot of items we describe asl “green” are called “blue;” e.g., a green traffic light is ao shingo. They do retain “green” [midori] for pure green — like greenery, or the safety Green Cross [Midori Jyu-ji] …. but even green bamboo is called blue bamboo [ao-dake]. Dunno if I’m green with envy … or blue.


  12. my kidz mom says:

    LOL! Can’t wait to share this. For years the men in my family have railed against the use of “teal” and “mauve” :)

  13. JillOfTheAmazingWolverineTribe says:

    Well, sOMEONE has to keep the guys from walking out the door in “the-combination-from-hell” outfits.

    True story:

    About 5 years before my mother died, she was helping my father pack for a business trip. It was going to be one of those “business trips with time for a round or two of golf” deals.

    Amongst my dad’s things were: one very nice light blue polo shirt with tiny white polka dots. In and of itself, a nice garment. He ALSO had a pair of very thin stripped seerssucker pants. Also blue and white. The blues didn’t *quite* Match AND, no one who is the least bit fashion concious would be seen dead in both stripes and dots on the same trip out the door. Let me say that dad *could* look good for formal business occasions .. but putting together informal wear? Mom had to keep a leash on him. Color blind people dressed better!

    Mom said: “Ed, AGAINST my better judgement, I’m going to pack these two garments. PROMISE ME, that if I do, you will.not.wear.them.together. The blues do not quite match AND you never, ever, put dots and stripes together, unless you are trying to look like hell.” PROMISE? He promised, cross his heart and hope to die.

    A week later – he gets back. Yes, indeed, the guys HAD gone golfing, and had also taken a picture of their foursome. What did dad have on? You guessed it.

    Flash forward. My mom died before he did. As it turned out, my dad and I had not seen each other on the morning of the same day we were to go to the funeral parlor to see my mother laid out. So we arrived separately.

    Dad was a COMPLETE basket case the moment he stepped through the door…and I had been a little anxious myself the emotions I would have when I actually saw my mother laid out in the casket.

    I spent some time comforting my dad, wiping away his tears, etc…when suddenly, once I got him calm, I LOOKED at him…and saw…that lovely baby blue polka dot shirt, matched with those same seersucker pants with the thin blue pinstripes that didn’t quite match. TELL me the hand of God was not involved in his choice. I honestly had to get up and turn away, I was biting my lip so hard. The funeral director came to me, and said “Would you like to check out your mother now, before we open up the room for general viewing to make sure she’s okay?” I strode into that room and as soon as he’d pulled the screen across, I looked down at my mother, and said “He DID IT AGAIN!” and I know we both shared that as our last laugh together!

  14. JillOfTheAmazingWolverineTribe says:

    Edwardo — Those of us who do watercolors would have added the colors you mentioned as well….where the heck is Prussian Blue, for instance? [I’d have called “banana” as it appeared on my screen ‘naples yellow’

  15. Patikins says:

    Where is taupe?!?

  16. Deo volente says:

    Flora versus Sea Foam? There must be only one hexadecimal digit differentiating these two “colors.” And puce? Could someone describe “puce.” And just what is “aubergine?”


  17. doanli says:

    Where’s Laetare, Father?

  18. juxta crucem says:

    This is important, Father! You want to be wearing rose, not pink on Gaudete and Laetare Sundays! Our parish has a vestment in awful shade of pink, but I had the privilege of making a beautiful set in a dignified rose color. Father K. wore it at his first public celebration in the EF!

  19. Timbot2000 says:

    What! No cerulean?

    I can tell you that written Chinese certainly reflected this color differentiation pattern very clearly as it transitioned from the early period (there was one word that could be green, blue, or sometimes black) up to late antiquity/early medieval Chinese, which had the full level of differentiation you see today.

  20. Sandra_in_Severn says:

    Various forms of color blindness are more prevalent in men than in women. In fact it is actually rare for most men to see the same number of hues and shades as most women. Here’s an interesting eye chart and what you see depends on any color ‘blindness’ you might have. Note, some people can see more than one figure or number.

  21. Re: Funny Paint Colours

    My wife and I just painted our bedroom “Mystical Sea” to match our “Wave Crest” Chest and side table.

    I pains me to live in such a “girly” world…

  22. Roland de Chanson says:

    This post has given me the blues. Viz.:

    Greek: cyaneus and glaukos.

    Latin: caeruleus and cyaneus.

    Italian: blu, celeste, azzurro

    Spanish azul and French bleu (from Germanic, cf. German blau)

    Russian sinij and goluboj.

    But one hue is known only to the greatest of poets: wine-dark. Mmm. I wonder if there is an html code for it.

  23. mpm says:

    Comment by Sandra_in_Severn — 6 May 2010 @ 9:58 pm


    LOL. My daughter is absolutely convinced that I, her father, am color blind. I took the “test” and fell into the “normal” group. How do I convince my daughter of the error of her hues?

  24. mpm says:


    Would that be Homer or O’Brien: “The Wine-Dark Sea”.

  25. The left column is actually “Colors if you are a paint store.”

  26. Tom in NY says:

    Il. Ψ143, et Odyssey passim remains with the blind bard.
    Salutationes omnibus.

  27. Tom in NY says:


    Salutationes omnibus.

  28. Tom in NY says:


  29. Daniel Latinus says:

    As a model railroader, I recognize the topmost color as Canadian National Candy Apple Red, depending on the lighting, the bottom most blues could be Great Northern Big Sky Blue…

  30. Sacristymaiden says:

    I just took that color test and made all my siblings take it–we’re all normal. That is so neat!

  31. susanna says:

    Not sure, but I think everything tastes better since I painted the kitchen “frosted peach”.

  32. Roland de Chanson says:

    Tom in NY,

    Did you get the Greek to appear by using the ampersands? I tried pasting Greek here once before and all I got was a series of question marks. Let me try it:

    οινοπα ποντον = oinopa ponton.

    It looks OK in the preview – let see whether it comes through.

  33. Roland de Chanson says:

    Trying utf-8 greek:

    ?????? ?????? (oinopa ponton – no accents)

    ?????? ?????? (oinopa ponton – acutes only)

    ?????? ?????? (oinopa ponton – iota with smooth acute)

    All this looks OK in the preview.

  34. MAJ Tony says:

    I think this is reversed for many guys when it comes to car colors. Guys who are car nuts would immediately recognize “Plum Crazy” or “Hemi Orange”, but women would just see them as purple or bright orange.

    Fr. Sticha, you’re a man’s man for sure! While we’re on the Mopar impact colors, don’t forget “B5,” “Go Bananas,” “GoManGo,” “Detonator Yellow” and “SubLime.” I almost bought my 09 Challenger in Hemi Orange, but I couldn’t find one with a stick for a decent price, so I bought a black one. What a pain to keep clean. What a fun ride :)

    When I think of color “shades” I guess a couple of decades of service I think of
    -“light green and loam” (those danged camo face paint sticks)
    -“forest green, black, light tan, and mud brown” from the old Woodland BDUs
    -“Light tan, pale green, and brown” from ODS/early OIF
    -“OG-107” (the Vietnam era “olive Green”)
    -“AG-489” (the final version of the grey-green shade in the now discontinued Army Green service uniform, which started as a lighter AG-44 after WWII)
    -“Foliage Green” the darker color associated with the new “Universal Camo Pattern.”
    That particular color must have been modeled off foliage in arid countries like Iraq, because it’s not “green” enough for this part of the world (more of a gray-blue-green).

    I’m also familiar with a new SOCOM weapon color called “Flat Dark Earth” which helps eliminate the “black stick-shoot me” problem that camouflaged troops have to deal with on black weapons.

    One thing I learned from studying militaria from WWII is that with the exception of the tan khaki (pinks) lightweight cotton service shirt and trousers, and the summer jacket, next to NOTHING in the WWII U.S. Army uniforms and equipment was Khaki – certainly none of the field uniforms and gear. If it wasn’t OD-6 (the darker “olive drab”) if it looked “khaki” it was really OD-3 (light olive drab). One really obvious example is the Paratrooper Uniform worn in the Normandy invasion, as seen on Saving Private Ryan (all the 101st troops wore these (Ted Danson, Matt Damon), while the Rangers were wearing the standard issue uniforms in OD-6 (Tom Hank & Co.). Put a pair of GI “pinks” next to a paratrooper uniform from 1944, and it’s obvious.

  35. AnAmericanMother says:

    Maj. Tony,

    The Brits were the ones wearing khaki. Although they wore something close to the old OD-3, in some of the tanker jackets.

    My dad had the confusing distinction of serving a good part of the Italian campaign with the 79th Cameron Highlanders even though he was officially in the old 34th ID. So he wore whatever was handy.

    I am a bit confused about the Vietnam-era “Olive Green”, because when I was starching and ironing those [ expletive deleted ] things, everybody referred to them as “ODs”. Was our terminology just a bit behind the official designation?

  36. Hans says:

    I once worked with a geologist who insisted that his students use “guy colors” when they described sample colors after he had a semester of trying to interpret colors such as those on the LHS. His list was slightly longer than the RHS. They could combine them in any appropriate way and with ‘light’ and ‘dark’, but that was it.

  37. Tom in NY says:

    The necessary and sufficient conditions are
    (a) ampersand
    (b) semicolon.
    It’s time-consuming to transcribe letter by letter – and still demanding accuracy as in ancient or modern times. Consider the modern Torah scribes – the “counters” or sofrim.
    Tibi salutationes.

  38. cwillia1 says:

    As I explained to my wife, 3/4 of the Lexus SUVs on the road are the same color – off-white, just like our living room and the master bedroom.

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