This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Nuts and Bolts: the colour red.

So: red pandas are brown,

red onions are purple, red-heads are orange, red admirals are black,
red clover is pink, red setters are copper, a red run is white, the Red Sea is blue,

(yes, that is genuinely the Red Sea as a matter of fact)
...and a red herring can be any colour at all.

There are also red-eyes* but, come off it, no-one notices what colour a red-eye is.

Why are so many 'red' things actually other colours? Well,  languages tend to add colours to their vocabulary in the same order, and red is almost always the first one to be named after black and white, so perhaps that's something to do with it. 

Just to even things up a little, though, the traditional bright red coats of huntsmen are called pinks.

Word To Use Today: red. This word is from the Old English rēad. There are similar words in Latin ruber, Greek eruthros, and Sanskrit rohita.

*A red-eye is a very early morning or late night plane.


  1. The Welsh for 'brownish' is 'cochddu', literally red-black. One of the words for purple is 'cochlas', meaning red-blue or red-green.

    Brown sugar is 'siwgr coch', meaning, you've guessed it, 'red sugar'.

  2. That's fascinating. I wonder if there are other non-red things called red in other languages?

    Actually, I've just this moment thought of one: Homer's wine-red sea!