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
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).


The pinkish color called dddd echoes “a loud hammering sound,” as described in Tongue Tie—From Confusion to Clarity: A Guide to the Diagnosis and Treatment of Ankyloglossia by Carmen Fernando.


The smoky purple color called dlrdn refers to an interjection coined by François Rabelais in the novel Gargantua and Pantagruel, spoken by a native of the imaginary “Lanternland.”


The light brown color dnnn refers to an incoherent response, as from someone intoxicated. “’You all right? You sick or anything, or just drunk?’ ‘Dnnn,’ said Sandra.” (William Kennedy, An Albany Trio.


The light purple color called drrr echoes the sound of “door,” as spoken by someone “slurring his words out of pure exhaustion,” as in the novel Doona by Anne McCaffrey.


The bright green color called fff refers to the sound of a sky rocket fizzing up, as described in “More Than Words” by the New Zealand Ministry of Education.


The even brighter green color called ffff means fortissississimo, a musician’s directive to perform a passage very, very, very loudly.


Another green color, called fmp fmp fmmmmp, echoes the sound of a falling body hitting the ground, as in the graphic novel ShadowFall by Kaichi Satake.


All of these color name insights are derived from my Dictionary of Improbable Words, which is available for online reading.

Cover by jovike.

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

Author: Prof. Oddfellow