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Colour words in German

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


black schwarz - black

Shades / expressions

  • pechschwarz - pitch black
  • kohlrabenschwarz - black as a raven
  • Schwarzfahrer - black rider, i.e. someone who rides a bus or train without a ticket, like a stowaway
  • Schwarzseher - black-looker, i.e. a pessimist
  • schwarzmalen - painting in black - expressing a pessimistic outlook
  • sich schwarzärgern - to turn black with anger, i.e. being very angry - especially about something you can't change
  • Da kannst du warten, bis du schwarz wirst - You can wait until you turn black (hell freezes over)

white weiß - white

Shades / expressions

  • schneeweiß - white as snow
  • eierschalenfarben - egg shell coloured = off-white, slightly brownish tinged white


red rot - red

Shades / expressions

  • blutrot - blood red
  • weinrot - wine red, burgundy
  • Morgenrot / Abendrot - morning red / evening red - reddish glow in the sky at dawn / twilight
  • rot werden - to become red - to blush
  • rotsehen - to see red - to be furious
  • Rotlauf - red run - erysipelas, an infection of the skin

yellow gelb - yellow

Shades / expressions

  • goldgelb - golden yellow
  • zitronengelb - lemon yellow

blue blau - blue

Shades / expressions

  • himmelblau - sky blue
  • Blaues Auge - blue eye - black eye, shiner, periorbital hematoma
  • Blauer Fleck - blue spot - hematoma
  • Blaues Blut - blue blood - nobility
  • jemanden grün und blau schlagen - to beat somebody green and blue - to beat somebody up pretty badly
  • blau sein - to be drunk
  • türkis - turquoise
  • graublau - grey-blue = greyish blue, periwinkle
  • blaumachen - making/doing blue, i. e. skipping work
  • blauäugig sein - to be blue-eyed, i.e. to be naïve

green grün - green

Shades / expressions

  • giftgrün - toxic green - bright green with a bluish tinge; the name derives from the toxic pigment Paris Green
  • grasgrün - grassy green
  • gelbgrün - yellow green, chartreuse
  • Grüner Star - green "Star" [1] - glaucoma
  • Grünspan - green shaving - copper acetate
  • jemanden grün und blau schlagen - to beat somebody green and blue - to beat somebody up pretty badly

brown braun - brown

Shades / expressions

  • beige - beige - light yellowish brown
  • ocker - ochre - yellowish brown
  • rehbraun - deer brown
  • schokoladebraun - chocolate brown
  • schwarzbraun - black-brown - dark brown
  • bräunen - browning - tanning

pink rosa - pink
pink - bright, intense pink / hot pink / shocking pink

Shades / expressions

  • altrosa - old pink - darker, slighly greyish pink
  • durch die rosa Brille schauen - looking through pink glasses - having an optimistic outlook, seeing only the good side

orange orange - orange


grey grau - grey

Shades / expressions

  • silbergrau - silver grey
  • Grauzone - grey zone - an undefined area; e.g. legal loopholes, moral ambiguosness
  • Grauer Star - grey "Star" [1] - cataract
  • taubengrau - pigeon grey = bluish or slightly purplish grey, taupe grey
  • mausgrau - mouse grey = brownish grey; the proverbial non-colour

purple lila / violett - purple, violet

  • violett = violet - the shade of violets
  • lila = lilac - the shade of lilac blossoms

[1] the word "star" in this context comes from medieval German and means the blank stare of a blind person


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