No Name Colors

No Name Colors

We are the nameless colors. No mere words can encapsulate our radiance. We are questions without easy answers. We are puzzles for the sake of enigma. We are the cats that get your tongue, leaving you speechless in our wake. We are anonymous yet individual, handleless yet graspable, inscrutable yet deep. Would a color by any other name look as sweet? We are the nameless colors--the only colors truly beyond description.

Art expert Joseph H. Krause notes that "In the English language, there are fewer than thirty words whose major function is to designate a specific color. These include auburn, azure, brown, black, blue, cerise, crimson, cyan, dun, ecru, gray, green, indigo, khaki, maroon, mauve, puce, purple, red, russet, scarlet, sepia, taupe, ultramarine, white, and yellow—they are all defined in the dictionary as either a specific location on the spectrum or with the phrase 'as having the color of' or 'being the color' followed by the names of objects bearing the color. . . .

"There are also colors that are named after specific objects—animals, vegetables, or minerals; their names, having been in use for a long time, have come to be regarded, when used in the proper context, primarily as colors. Within this group are such names as beige, buff, lavender, lilac, orange, pink, sienna, umber, rust, turquoise, silver, gold, emerald, sapphire, and fawn. And some of these names have lost their original meaning and now stand for the color alone. However, even with this list, the number of color names remains fairly small. Therefore we use a variety of linguistic devices to extend it.

  1. Combining names for a single color that has two hue qualities, e.g., yellow-green, blue-violet, yellow-orange
  2. Limiting names by the use of a modifier denoting lightness, e.g., dark blue, dark red, light red, light blue, light green
  3. Limiting names by the use of a modifier referring to the degree of color saturation, e.g., dull red, bright red, dull green, bright green
  4. Adding the suffix ish, e.g., yellowish, greenish, reddish
  5. Using such descriptive adjectives as mellow, harsh, garish, or subtle

(The Nature of Art, 1969, via Paul Dean)

Cover img by nalilo.

The ColourLovers library features many fine specimens of nameless colors:

No Name endless, nameless

no name face nameless blu

no name tonight05 no name tonight02

unnamed grey The Unnamed Horror

Endless, Nameless Unnamed Color

I have no name. no name tonight09

Nameless Suds nameless 0.6

no name tonight04 no name

Nameless 1 nameless green

No Name Unnamed Blue

nameless 0.5 no name tonight07

Nameless Unnamed Color 4

nameless no name tonight12

No Name nameless 0.9

no name tonight06 nameless 0.1

no name tonight03 NO NAME1

no face no name01 no face no name03

no name tonight01 Nameless Red

nameless 0.2 Unnamed Reds

nameless 0.4 no name

Nameless Other nameless 0.7

No Name :) Nameless Brown

green with no name has no name

ozio's unnamed unnamed

no name nameless 0.8

no name tonight10 no name key

Nameless Blue (RAL) no face no name04

no name tonight11 no face no name02

no name No Name

nameless 0.3 Unnamed Color 2

Unnamed Color 3 unnamed

No Name no title,no name.

Got no name boy with no name.


Craig ConleyAbout the Guest Author, Craig Conley
Craig is an independent scholar and author of dozens of strange and unusual books, including a unicorn field guide and a dictionary of magic words. He also loves color: Prof. Oddfellow

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Showing 1 - 15 of 15 Comments
wow! that's quite a few!
i have one too:
(read it backwards)
Change The Name
Crappy Name
very interesting. :D
Here's a palette with five unnamed colors:
That's a great idea _stefan! Here's my version:

Nameless Colors
Whoops, modified it. Didn't like the original.

Nameless Colors
Hmm...I guess it didn't show :(
OK very similar:
Nameless Growth
wanted to give a name but never did it:
oh. i did one but forgot to put it here. here it is:
and one more:
say my name
puce & friends
Thanks for the inspiration, Professor.

Dear Perfection

No Part of Thee
Great post Craig! I love that quote too. Words fail us when it comes to color. There's room for so many new color words and terms, which is part of the reason why COLOURlovers is such a great project,

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