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Colour words in Irish

Words for colours in Irish with notes and colour-related expressions.

The word for colour in Irish is dath (pl: dathanna). Related words include:

black dubh [d̪ˠʊw] - black, dark, black-haired, dismal, swarming (with people), darkness

Etymology: from the Old Irish dub, from the Proto-Celtic *dubu- (black), from the Proto-Indo-European *dʰewbʰ- (black).


  • scothdhubh - blackish
  • bheith dubh dóite - to be fed up
  • dubh dorcha - pitch black
  • an Mhuir Dhubh - the Black Sea
  • dubh le daoine - swarming (black) with pe ople
  • an dubh a chur ina gheal ar dhuine - to pull the wool over sb's eyes
  • ó dhubh go dubh (from black to black) - round the clock / from dawn to dusk
  • dubhfhocal - enigma, conundrum

white bán [bɑːn] - white, blank, fallow, empty

Etymology: from the Old Irish bán, from the Proto-Celtic *bāno- (white).


  • béal bán (white mouth) - flattery, sweet talk
  • chomh bán le mo léine (as white as my shirt) - as white as a sheet
  • chomh bán le sneachta - as white as snow

red dearg [ˈʤʲɛrəɡ] - red, lit, glowing, raw, intense, real; to blush, light, glow, redden

Etymology (dearg): from the Old Irish derg, from the Proto-Celtic *dergo- (red, crimson).

rua [ruə] - red, red-haired, rusty, wild

Etymology (rua): from the Old Irish rúad, from the Proto-Celtic *rowdo-, from the Proto-Indo-European *h₁rewdʰ


  • dearg te - red hot
  • deargbhréag - barefaced lie
  • an téip dhearg - red tape
  • airdeall dearg - red alert
  • deargamadán - an utter fool
  • dearg-ghráin - intense hatred
  • deargiomaíocht - cutthroat competition
  • níl pingin rua agam - I'm broke (I don't have a red penny)

yellow buí [bˠiː] - yellow

Etymology: from the Old Irish buide.

Expressions / Related words

  • buíocán - yolk, primrose
  • buíochán - jaundice
  • le buíochan na gréine - with the mellowing (tanning) of the sunlight, in late afternoon
  • buíochan an fhómhair - the ripening of the harvest, the mellowing change of autumn

blue gorm ['gorəm] - blue, black (skin)

Etymology: from Old Irish gorm (blue), from the Proto-Celtic *gorsmo-, from *gor (warm, warm colour), from the Proto-Indo-European *wrmi- (worm), from the Proto-Indo-European *wer- (to turn, bend).

Shades of blue

  • gormghlas - blue-green, azure
  • gormuaine - blue-green


  • cloigín gorm - bluebell
  • cuil ghorm - bluebottle

green glas [ɡl̪ˠasˠ] - green (of grass, trees, politics etc);
grey (of sheep, horses, cloth, wool, eyes, etc) , inexperienced (person)

Etymology (glas): from the Old Irish glas, from the Proto-Celtic *glasto- (green).

uaine [ˈuənʲə] - green (of painted or dyed items, or bright or lightly-coloured items)

Etymology (uaine): from the Old Irish úanne, possiblly from the Proto-Celtic *utnio-, from the Proto-Indo-European *wed- (wet).


  • glasraí - vegetables (greens)

brown donn [du:n] - brown, brown haired, brunette, tawny, dun

Etymology; from the Old Irish donn, from the Proto-Celtic *dunno- (brown).


  • scothdhonn - brownish
  • donnbhuí - buff
  • arán donn - brown bread
  • páipéar donn - brown paper
  • siúcra donn - brown sugar

pink bándearg - pink

orange oráiste / flannbhuí - orange

grey liath [ˈlʲiə] - grey, light-blue, grey haired

Etymology: from Early Irish líath. Related to the Welsh llwyd, the Old Breton loit, the Middle Breton loet, from *leito-/*pleito-/*peleito-, from Greek pelitnós, from the Proto-Indo-European root *pel- (grey, dull colour, pallor)


  • liathbhán - pale, pallid, wan
  • liathbhuí - sallow
  • liathchorcra - lilac

purple corcra - purple

Etymology: from Old Irish corcur (purple), from Latin purpura (purple)

mauve bánchorca - mauve

cream bánbhuí - cream

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