Colour words in Scottish Gaelic

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

The word for colour in Scottish Gaelic is dath (pl: dathan). Related words and expressions include:

black dubh [duh] - black; dark; black/dark-haired, very, extremely; pupil (of eye)

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


  • cho dubh ri gual - as black as coal
  • dubh-nota - crotchet / quarter note
  • dubh, a' dubhadh - to blacken, make black, become black
  • dubh às - to erase; black out; blot out
  • dubhach - sad, gloomy; moody; blackening; an eclipse
  • dubh-aigeann - the deep, the ocean; an abyss

white geal [gʲal̪ˠ] - white; fond of; clear, bright; pure

Etymology: from the Irish gael, the Early Irish gel, from the Proto-Indo-European @ghel (clear, shine, glow)


  • geal na sùla - the white of the eye
  • fion-geal - white wine
  • cho geal ris an t-sneachda - as white as snow
  • gealachadh - (the act of) whitening; bleaching
  • gealagan - an egg white
  • gealaich, a gealachadh - to whiten, blanch; make or become white; to bleach

white bán [baːn] - fair; pale; ; light in colour; fair/white-haired

Etymology: from the Old Irish bán (white), from the Proto-Celtic *bānos (white), from the Proto-Indo-European *bʰeh₂- (to shine)


  • mathan-bàn - polar bear

whitefionn [fjũːn̪ˠ] - white, fair, pale; sincere, true, certain; small; fine, pleasant.

Etymology: from the Irish fionn, from the Old Irish find - a nasalised form of the root vid/vied (know)

red dearg [dʲɛrɛg] - red; reddish; complete, utter

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


  • bàn-dhearg - pale red; pink
  • dearg-dhonn - reddish brown
  • dearg-bhuidhe = orange
  • dearg amadan - a bloody fool / complete idiot
  • dearcan-dearg - redcurrant
  • ceann dearg - redhead
  • craos-dearg - red hot (temperature)
  • fìon dearg - red wine

red ruadh [rˠuəɣ] - red, red-haired, rusty, wild

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


  • ruadh-bhuidhe - auburn
  • madadh-ruadh - fox (vulpes vulpes)
  • airgead ruadh - copper money
  • feòrag-ruadh - red squirrel

yellow buidhe [bujə] - yellow, golden; grateful; agreeable; fallow

Etymology: from the Old Irish buide (yellow, buttercup, honey), from the Proto-Celtic *bodyos (yellow), from the Proto-Indo-European *badyo- (yellow, brown)

Expressions / Related words

  • dorch-bhuidhe / dubh-bhuidhe - dark yellow
  • cho buidhe ri buidheagan / dìthean / sòbhrag - as yellow as the sun

blue gorm [gɔrɔm] - blue; green

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).


  • soilleir/bàn-ghorm - pale/light blue
  • dorch/dubh-ghorm - dark blue
  • adhar gorm - blue sky
  • cloigín gorm - bluebell
  • cuil ghorm - bluebottle
  • feur gorm - green grass

green uaine [uəɲə] - green; greeness; lividness

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


  • dorch/dubh-uaine - dark green
  • soilleir-uaine - light green
  • liath-uaine - grey-green
  • donn-uaine - olive(-brown)
  • tì uaine - green tea
  • sìor-uaine - evergreen

green glas [ɡl̪ˠasˠ] - green; grey-green; grey; pale

Etymology: from the Old Irish glas (green, blue, grey), from the Proto-Celtic *glastos (green, blue) from the Proto-Indo-European *ǵʰl̥h₃stós, from *ǵʰelh₃- (green, yellow).


  • cho glas ri càl Obar Dheathain - as green as grass ('as green as Aberdeen cabbage')

brown donn [dɔun̪ˠ] - brown, brown haired

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


  • dorch-dhonn - dark brown
  • soilleir-dhonn - light brown
  • aran-donn - brown bread

pink pinc / bàn-dhearg - pink

orange orainds [ɔrɪndʲʃ] - orange (colour)


  • dorch-orains - dark orange

grey liath [ʎiə] - grey; (pale) blue

Etymology: from the Old Irish líath (grey, grey-haired), from the Proto-Celtic *ɸlētos (grey), from the Proto-Indo-European *pel- / *pelH- (pale, grey).


  • falt liath - grey hair
  • liath, a' liathadh - to make/become grey

purple purpaidh [purbɪ] - purple

Etymology: from Irish purpuir, from Middle Irish purpuir, from Latin purpura (purple fish; purple; purple cloth; finery; royalty).


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