Colour words in Vietnamese (màu sắc)
Words for colours in Vietnamese with notes on their etymology and usage.
The word for colour,
màu, can be added before the
other colour words to make it clear that you are talking about
colours. If that is clear from the context, there's no need to use it,
except in the case of gold ( vàng) and yellow ( màu vàng).
đen - black
Black is associated with dark, evil and filth
trắng - white
White is associated with purity, death and the end
(𣠶) - red
Red is associated with happiness, love, luck and celebration
- yellow (colour)
màu vàng (黄) - gold (colour / metal);
Yellow is associated with wealth, prosperity, royalty, happiness and change
(青) - blue/green;
xanh - (sky) blue;
xanh da trời - (tree) green
xanh lá cây
Naturalized pronunciation of 青 which is ‘thanh’ in standard Sino-Vietnamese
Used to indicate blue/green distinction when translating other languages (e.g. English)
Green is associated with jealousy and lust
Blue is associated with calmness, hope and growth
nâu – - brown; race.
hồng (紅) - pink
Can also mean red in a literary context (reverts to its original Chinese meaning),
then it has the same cultural associations as Đỏ.
Modern association with femininity (French)
- orange (colour);
màu cam - orange (fruit)
chảy máu cam = nosebleed (lit. "to flow orange blood")
- grey, blurry, unclear
Colour of bruising from being hit or from being in the cold
Purple is associated with nostalgia, sadness, fragility and tenderness
- silver (colour);
xám bạc - silver (metal - from silver 鉑)
Grey hair is referred to as silver hair in Vietnamese
chàm (藍) - indigo (from the plant indigo)
An introduction to Vietnamese colours by Greg Vanderford
More information about colours in Vietnamese
Learn to Speak Vietnamese Like a Native, an online course by Greg Vanderford
Information about Vietnamese |
Chữ-nôm script |
Family words |
Tower of Babel |
Colour words in other languages
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