Little-Known Meanings of Crazy Color Names vol. 3

Little-Known Meanings of Crazy Color Names vol. 3

Seemingly incomprehensible color names often tell intriguing and funny stories, at least to those who are willing to delve beneath the surface. We continue our strange and wonderful adventure into the uncharted fringes of language, where we'll discover new "shades of meaning."

The dark gray color called fsck refers to a Linux system administration command and is also the title of an album of experimental electronic music by the band Farmers Manual.


The bright pink color called fzzk recalls the sound of “flash panties,” a weapon disguised as underwear, as in the comic book Dirty Pair: Run From The Future #3 by Adam Warren.


The light purple color called ggg echoes the gulping of a noisy drinker, as described in “More Than Words” by the New Zealand Ministry of Education.


The light green color called gggg refers to a baby’s giggle, as described in the novel Edwin Mullhouse by Steven Millhauser.


The gray color called gnch refers to the sound of someone gorging on a giant mushroom, as in the graphic novel Uzumaki 2 by Junji Ito.

photo by sahmeepee
img by sahmeepee

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Color Shades of the Unexpected

Color Shades of the Unexpected

What makes a color "unexpected" is a difference from the norm or a breaking of the rules. Consider, for example, a fiery red nimbus cloud amongst common white ones, an impatient yellow blossom amongst green buds, or an anomalous brown nut amongst its candy-covered companions. A mismatched color can jolt the viewer into a new way of looking. It can offer:

  • a rhythm to the palette
  • a lively surprise
  • a sense of depth or substance
  • a punchy contrast
  • a delightful idiosyncrasy
  • an inspirational boost
  • a festive mood
  • unexpected warmth
  • a "not too serious" tone
  • a fun nuance
  • a reason to smile
Little Red Angel
img by jpmatth


An anomalous pile of blue sticks next to an orange-leafed tree in an autumnal glade served as the inspiration for the "Stick Figures" palette.

Stick FiguresStick Figures
img by ISphoto


A green and red cactus in a Kingman, Arizona parking lot served as the inspiration for the "Cactus Erroneous" palette.

Cactus ErroneousCactus Erroneous
img by cobalt123


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Artists of Light and Color: Finch, Rahm & Yuskavage.

Artists of Light and Color: Finch, Rahm & Yuskavage.

A few months ago I visited MASS Moca, a modern art museum in a converted factory in the Northern Berkshires. The space itself is worth a visit with its exposed brick walls, high ceilings, huge windows, and industrial feel.

Spencer Finch

My favorite work was by Brooklyn artist Spencer Finch. Finch explores how people perceive lights effect on an object’s color, the boundaries of the human field of vision, and the influence of language, memory, and the subconscious.

His works re-creates specific light conditions experienced at a different place and time. Above are photos I took of two Spencer Finch installations, “Sunlight In An Empty Room (Passing Cloud For Emily Dickinson, 2004)" and “Candlelight (2007)" at Mass Moca.

Philip Rahm & Lisa Yuskavage

I love how color and light can impact all they touch, be it skin, grass, water etc. To see artists that are artificially capturing and portraying these effects is so thrilling. My husband and I went to Paris for our honeymoon on a whim last summer. We planned to be in Italy but it was sweltering so we hopped a train to beautiful, colorful Paris (hence my obsession with macarons and previous post on this blog).

Philip Rahm

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Pearl Colors: A Rainbow Beyond White

Pearl Colors: A Rainbow Beyond White

Pearls come in more colors than one can count. Part of the allure of owning pearls is that each one is unique. Like people, pearls are never clones (not yet at least) and their color is one of their most striking qualities. Because of the natural material, each pearl must be expertly matched underneath fluorescent lights in order to find a pair.

Sometimes a pearl's color changes when you spin the pearl. One side of the pearl may be copper and the other green. These pearls are generally thought to be lower in value and are hard to come across unless you are looking through a substantial lot of loose pearls.

Pearl Fun Facts

Pearl is the birthstone for the month of June and it is generally accepted as the wedding anniversary gemstone for the 3rd and 30th years or marriage. The pearl has been a symbol of sacred power and the goddess of love for hundreds of years. In the ancient Mediterranean world, shells and pearls were often symbols for the great goddesses. As the pearl is born from the oyster so was Aphrodite born from a marine conch.

Tahitian Pearls


"Rainbow" Iridescence

Rainbow Iridescence pearls
The best example of the possibility in pearl color is captured in the baroque shape. Baroque implies that the pearls are not completely round and are generally either drop shaped or circled. Because of the more freeform shape, these pearls capture rainbows of color. The colors dance and change according to the lighting. One of the traditional metaphors to describe such iridescence, (called "orient"), is to think of gasoline on pavement. What makes baroque shaped pearls even more colorful is that their body color is not always one color. Below is a photo of some loose Tahitian pearls. You can see from the following examples the multitude of colors.
- Tahitian Pearls by PearlParadise


Red pearls
Though there are no bright red pearls, there is a shade of Tahitian pearl called "Cherry," which is truly vamp. These pearls have a ruby tinge to their darker body color. These pearls can be as red as a dark sienna if the body color is also red, or the red can be lighter with a silver body color. Sometimes green is the dominant body color of the pearl and the red is an overtone. These pearls look red at the center with an outline of green beneath. They are rare and hard to find on for sale.

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The Colors of Carnival: Brazil

The Colors of Carnival: Brazil

This is part of a series about colors from the 2008 Carnival season. Today we are featuring colors from the location home to the largest and most elaborate celebration, Brazil.

The colors of the Carnival festival season have been brightening up the streets of cities across the world, maybe since Pre-Christian times. While the celebrations may not have always included eclectic parades filled with dynamic floats and street performers, Carnival has become a global celebration that extends beyond its religious roots crossing cultural and political divides.

Brazilian Carnival

The Brazilian Carnival (Portuguese: Carnaval) is an annual festival in Brazil held 40 days before Easter and marks the beginning of Lent. During Lent, Roman Catholics are supposed to abstain from all bodily pleasures, including the consumption of meat. The carnival, celebrated as a profane event and believed to have its origins in the pagan Saturnalia, can thus be considered an act of farewell to the pleasures of the flesh.

Brazilian Carnival as a whole exhibits some differences with its counterparts in Europe and other parts of the world, and within Brazil it has distinct regional manifestations.Brazilian citizens used to riot until the Carnival was accepted by the government as an expression of culture. That was because the Brazilian carnival had its origin in a Portuguese festivity called "entrudo".
--Wikipedia: Brazilian_Carnival

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Confectionery Colors: Creating Art With Food

Confectionery Colors: Creating Art With Food

Two artists are taking some of our favorite colorful treats and turning them into a new medium for their artistic expression.

Liz Hickok has taken each flavor of America's favorite gelatin desert and molded it into colorful models of San Francisco and Scottsdale. Since JELL-O isn't the most durable of materials, as part of the project she has two videos that capture these wonderfully sculpted cityscapes. You can see them here and here.

Working with gummy bears, Yaya Chou has created some of the most fascinating sculptures, the best being, of course, a bear skin rug.

San Francisco In Jell-O

This project consists of photographs and video, which depict various San Francisco landscapes. I make the landscapes by constructing scale models of the architectural elements which I use to make molds. I then cast the buildings in Jell-O. Similar to making a movie set, I add backdrops, which I often paint, and elements such as mountains or trees, and then I dramatically light the scenes from the back or underneath. The Jell-O sculptures quickly decay, leaving the photographs and video as the remains.

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We Love Colors Clothing: Tights, Leggings and More

We Love Colors Clothing: Tights, Leggings and More

The spring 2008 color trends will include some of the brightest and boldest colors we have seen from the fashion world in a while. With New York Magazine titling their spring fashion issue, 'The Technicolor Season' and Pantone calling colors like Rococco Red and Freesia for the spring color forecast, recently reported here on COLOURlovers, this spring is set to be full of confident cheery colors.


If you are set on keeping up with the latest color trends, then you may need not to look any further than We Love Colors. This hip online retailer carries tights in an astounding 45 colors.

Color: Royal

Their tights also come in multiple patterns like diamonds, checkers, vertical jagged striped, and for the really adventurous, splash color.


There main line for women includes other things like dance wear and minidresses, but their products extend to socks, gloves, and ties, in addition to tights, for both children and men.

Color: Sky Blue

To help you pick out your favorite color, whether it is neon pink, rust, or rubine, We Love Colors provides a guide to aide in sorting through their incredible selection of colors.

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Little-Known Meanings of Crazy Color Names vol. 2

Little-Known Meanings of Crazy Color Names vol. 2

We continue our strange and wonderful adventure into the uncharted fringes of language, in search of new "shades of meaning," colors with seemingly incomprehensible names actually tell fascinating and humorous stories, at least to those who are willing to delve beneath the surface.

The sandy color called chk gray refers to the sound of a shovel pushing through sand: "I listen until my itching subsides, and the nearby scratch of a shovel digging—chk... chk... chk...—is a gentle drumbeat calling me back to life." (Donald W. George, Japan: True Stories of Life on the Road.


The green color called chk-chk-chk echoes the soft, rhythmic call of the Olive Thrush, as described in Birds of Kenya and Northern Tanzania by Dale A. Zimmerman.

photo by Jeremy Hughes
img by Jeremy Hughes

The mysterious gray color called clk refers to an expression of anger by a Martian whose flying saucer has just been destroyed by a “little beast with a peppermint stick” (Will Eisner, Comics & Sequential Art).


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The Colors of Language: Chinese Etymologies

The Colors of Language: Chinese Etymologies

Many outsiders think that modern Chinese remains a purely pictographic language, similar to ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. While it is true that Chinese script began as a pictographic system, pictures do not make for a particular efficient writing system. Some pictograms do still exist (e.g., 山 ‘mountain’, 人 ‘person’), but 90% of modern Chinese characters are phono-semantic compounds: they are part semantic (a portion of the character, called a radical, provides the general meaning) and part phonetic (the other portion of the character tells you how it is pronounced).

The characters for red, green, blue, and purple in Chinese are phono-semantic (all bearing the radical for silk, 系), but a few color characters are associative compounds: two or more ideographic elements combined to create another meaning. Linguists have forever debated to what extent our language affects the way we think; they have yet to draw any solid conclusions. What is commonly agreed is that when, for example, an Anglophone reads the word ‘white’, they see five letters that they have come to associate with a specific meaning – in this case, a color. This is purely abstract representation of meaning. Languages that still employ Chinese characters (including Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese, and Korean) are the only modern languages whose writing system is not purely abstract. When someone reads the Chinese character for white, for example, they see a sun rising. We must wonder how these ideographic associations affect the way color is understood in cultures using Chinese characters.

Below I will introduce the six common colors whose characters are associative compounds: their character etymologies and modern Chinese associations.

The white of sunrise...img by tylerc083



Etymology: A sunwith a mark indicating that it is just rising = rising sun

As in many languages throughout the world, white is associated with clarity and purity in Chinese. It is also used in many expressions to indicate the clarity that is achieved through explanation: 明白 (bright + white = ‘to understand’), 自白 (self + white = ‘confessions’). Chinese also correlates white and emptiness (something akin to English’s ‘blank slate’ or ‘a white lie’): ‘white words’ (白话) are empty promises and a ‘white brain sickness’ (白痴) is stupidity.
In China, white is the traditional color of mourning (though the Western black funeral/white wedding customs are rapidly encroaching upon Chinese conventions).

The grey of ash...img by jasonJT



Etymology: Firethat can be handled (with lefthand) = ashes

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Colors for Life with Tattoo Inks

Colors for Life with Tattoo Inks

Colors inserted into the skin's dermis are known as tattoos or dermal pigmentation. A practice traced back to Neolithic times, tattooing remains popular worldwide for body decoration, initiatory rites, religious observance, love vows, and identification, to name but a handful of uses. Tattoo inks come in nearly unlimited variations, the most popular being red, green, yellow, blue, and white, which is used as a tint (source).

Photo by weebum

Tattoo inks comprise of a variety of pigments in carrier solutions. The pigments may be organic-based, mineral-based, or plastic-based. The plastic-based pigments offer the most vibrant colors. "The inks used in tattoos and permanent makeup (also known as micropigmentation) and the pigments in these inks are subject to FDA regulation as cosmetics and color additives. However, the FDA has not attempted to regulate the use of tattoo inks and the pigments used in them and does not control the actual practice of tattooing.

Photo by spaceninja

Photos by skalasinc & toolera

Rather, such matters have been handled through local laws and by local jurisdictions. . . . Although a number of color additives are approved for use in cosmetics, none is approved for injection into the skin. Using an unapproved color additive in a tattoo ink makes the ink adulterated. Many pigments used in tattoo inks are not approved for skin contact at all. Some are industrial grade colors that are suitable for printers' ink or automobile paint" (source).

Some Tattoo Palette Inspiration from the COLOURlovers Library:

Tattooed Obscenities Classic Tattoo

Tattoo Parlor Fresh Tattoo

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