The Color Thesaurus

I love to collect words. Making word lists can help to find the voice of my story, dig into the emotion of a scene, or create variety.

One of my on-going word collections is of colors. I love to stop in the paint section of a hardware store and find new names for red or white or yellow.  Having a variety of color names at my fingertips helps me to create specificity in my writing. I can paint a more evocative image in my reader’s mind if I describe a character’s hair as the color of rust or carrot-squash, rather than red.

So for fun, I created this color thesaurus for your reference. Of course, there are plenty more color names  in the world, so, this is just to get you started.

Fill your stories with a rainbow of images!

white

Tan_Revised

yellow

Orange_Revised

Red

pink_Revised

Purple_Revised

Blue

Green

brown

Grey

black

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180 Responses to “The Color Thesaurus”

  1. Ingrid, this is so funny. Last week on my blog I wrote about how I keep a copy of the Farrow & Ball colour chart near my desk because I love the names it gives the colours! Off to share.

  2. This comes at the perfect moment. Thank you.

  3. Peter says:

    Wow! Thanks!

  4. Cassie says:

    Thanks! So fun to have this :)

  5. skvanzandt says:

    Wow, Ingrid! This is great!!

  6. Tyrean says:

    Thank you, Ingrid!!! I needed this for the poetry I’ve been writing lately.

  7. artrosch says:

    Ingrid, you are an endless fount of inspiration. Thank you for this wonderful tool.

  8. I’m glad you all are finding this helpful! :) It was fun to make. And I know I’ll be using it over and over and over!

  9. This is fantastic. Saving, sharing, adoring.

  10. Ellar Cooper says:

    Oh, this is fun. My only complaint is that you don’t have Lincoln green. 😉

  11. @TheRealGaladriel says:

    What about Lothlórien Green?

  12. Terri White says:

    I love how it’s so visual as well as literary…

  13. Anna J. Boll says:

    Beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing!

  14. I wonder when referring to banana yellow, is it the peel or the flesh?

  15. interopia says:

    Wow this is very helpful and I think I will refer back to this. It reminds me of something I wrote called Kingdoms. Maybe you’d like to check it out. http://interopia.com/writings/kingdoms/ I think you’ll see the connection soon enough! :))

  16. a3lalala says:

    Reblogged this on a3lalala and commented:
    The colours names!!!

  17. Arctic might be better if changed to Cyan.

    • Yes, cyan would also work for that color. But arctic could be a more evocative word, depending on the context of the sentence and story. The point of this color thesaurus wasn’t to 100% match the word with the color, so much as explore different evocative and sensual word choices that push past one’s first word choice of blue.

  18. Perfect! hope you don’t mind if I reblog.

  19. Reblogged this on Journey Taker and commented:
    Perfect inspiration for writing about color!

  20. Lynne Hand says:

    Marigold

    Although I like the idea of merigold – merry and gold. :)

  21. Hello Ingrid!

    I just love this! I am a Makeup Artist obsessed with Color Theory, so this just lit my fire!

    Thank you so much. I shared it in Social Media with links to your blog. :-)

  22. taylorwr says:

    Imma leave a comment here so I can come back and look at this whenever I want.

  23. Mateusz Wolańczyk says:

    There are two colors named “Sangria”: one in the red group and the second one in the purple group.

  24. Eupraxsophy says:

    Reblogged this on Sarvodaya and commented:
    The nuances of color are as fascinating as they are practical. Whether you’re an artist, writer, or just someone who enjoys word collecting, this is great to have on hand.

  25. I appreciation for word list also. I have large notebooks filled with them. Thank you for sharing your color list. It will come in very handy.

    You have my favorite color in your hair, purple. I think people look outstandingly with unusual hair colors. Don’t change it because it makes you look unique.

  26. LMD says:

    So useful, thank you :)

  27. Becky Keeling says:

    I can’t thank you enough for sharing these. These would be excellent printed and hung on the wall besides my story board. I thank you, and my readers thank you. 😉

  28. […] instance, Ingrid Sundberg’s Color Thesaurus rolled across my desktop via various social media outlets in the last week or so. It has the […]

  29. Just saw this – thanks! It will certainly help me name colours of my hand dyed yarns, when writing descriptions for Etsy! .

  30. Holly says:

    Wow! I love this list! Thank you for putting that together.

  31. David Sacré says:

    Very helpful for us RPG dungeon masters. Ease the descriptions!
    THanks a lot!

  32. marjma2014 says:

    This is great thanks for sharing. :)

  33. This is fantastic! Kids often don’t know what a color word means, so this would be great to help them use color words more precisely in their writing. The only one that threw me was sapphire, which is my birthstone. I always associated it with a deep, cool blue instead of the more tealish color on the chart.

    Thanks again for a great resource. Pinning for sure!

  34. I think I drooled a little.

  35. Carla says:

    I love love love the names of those colours. What a great resource!

  36. […] The Color Thesaurus. This reminded me of this colorscope. And it’s just […]

  37. […] 19 different words for yellow? This page not only gives you the words, but it shows you the colours. Another great description […]

  38. De Schamphelaere Vincent says:

    Keep on the fine work

  39. […] info: ingridsnotes.wordpress.com | sundbergstudio.com | Facebook (h/t: […]

  40. Sandra says:

    Oh, wow, these charts are incredibly helpful. I prefer writing in English, but it is not my native language … So even though my vocabulary has grown leaps and bounds since I started writing in English, every now and then I struggle a little when it comes to descriptions. Thank you so much for creating and sharing these!

  41. therchives says:

    This is very helpful. Thanks Xx

  42. - says:

    Fantastic work, Ingrid. Thank you. Hope you don’t mind me copying it over here http://penhire.blogspot.ie/2014/09/the-colour-thesaurus.html

  43. carolchalker says:

    Thank you very much for this, our daughter has difficulties with imagery – this will definitely be a joy for her to learn that she can always place a name to a color and bank it into her memory.

  44. This is wonderful, Ingrid! I have shared it on Facebook and would like to use it on my blog (with proper attribution, of course). If you want to check it out before you give your permission, it is at http://www/rafevincennes.com. I think I will use this many times.

  45. Ingrid, just discovered this and appreciate this information. I have posted it on my Pinterest Home Staging board (www.pinterest.com/palmbeachliving) and on Google+. Thanks for writing about this and creating this information. Eileen
    PalmBeachesHomeStaging.com

  46. […] green and brown, and women (see how overgeneralized this argument is?) know so many more as in this – then there’s also this… Wouldn’t it be stupid to ask for some easier (to […]

  47. Lara Koplin says:

    Where can I get one? A book or a poster?

  48. emmyjaymakes says:

    Was just pointed to this and …. Wow! I was compelled to look for one of my favorite colors since I was a kid — and there it was. Magenta, the word, on Magenta the color, not on some other bright pinky red that is *not* the color I love.

  49. John Johnson says:

    Interestingly, HTML often uses different colors for these words. http://www.workwithcolor.com/color-chart-full-01.htm

    • John! I love this link. Thank you for sharing more great color names. An naming is always subjective. Plus we all see color differently due to our color acuity. So what I see as pink, you might see a peach. But I adore this link!

  50. Erik Scarcia says:

    Hi Ingrid, Brilliant work! Do you actually have the RGB-values of the colours you named?
    Thanks!

  51. Anna Dobritt says:

    This is excellent! 😀

  52. […] If you are interested in expanding your color vocabulary, view Sundberg’s entire color thesaurus here. […]

  53. Reblogged this on Monsterland and commented:
    Dear all
    I am sharing a Color Thesaurus. It could be useful.

  54. Michael says:

    Great work with very sensitive literacy sens.

    Maybe you know one of your illustre predecessor ? =>

    http://www.theverge.com/2014/5/13/5713684/17th-century-book-predates-pantone-with-gorgeous-color-swatches

  55. Alice says:

    Lovely. I disagreed with some of the names. But lovely anyway. I’m guessing no two people who really love colour would totally agree on what each could be called.
    Black was interesting because I could only differentiate a few of them. And I thought this must be how men perceive colours…

  56. Reblogged this on thedigitaltext and commented:
    a colour chart for our TEI exploration of J. Alfred Prufrock

  57. Reblogged this on ThinkingSkull.com and commented:
    Color is important to a physical description, but here’s a few suggestions that go beyond Roy G. Biv to provide for a particular hue with a single word.

  58. David Wang says:

    This is great! Thanks for sharing this. I can see myself coming back to this resource often :)

  59. elgatonegro34 says:

    Hi Ingrid, this is really useful, thank you! I’ve shared this on my blog and credited the images to you.

  60. […] Artist and writer Ingrid Sundberg created a ‘Colour Thesaurus’, a palette with its corresponding names written on it. A super helpful tool for me this week, thus! Thank you Ingrid! For people like me who are obsessed with orderliness and perfection: feast your eyes at this link. […]

  61. […] Writer Ingrid Sundbery has put together a colour-theasaurus of descriptive words for countless hues. It’s fun going through her list and seeing which […]

  62. toinks says:

    Shared the link with some people I thought would like it as much as I did.
    Thanks much.

  63. Arielle says:

    I love this! I’m an artist whose work primarily deals with color. Have you thought about turning this concept into a poster? If you make a poster, please let me know. I’d likely buy one to put in a child’s room. Nice concept!

  64. […] LOVE learning different names for colours, and this blog has some pretty awesome […]

  65. Allison says:

    I have a five year old who wants to become a “book writer” and is in love with her thesaurus. I am going to print these off so she can save them to memory. Cheers!

  66. Reblogged this on Kicking the Pants and commented:
    Here’s a handy little thing!

  67. Helen Savore says:

    Just discovered this. Thank you so much for this resource! I’ve stared too long at colors from google images trying to figure out names of shades… this is so much simpler, and evocative.

  68. Valerie says:

    Yay, I was thinking about making something like this to help me in my blogging; you saved me a ton of work! Thanks, and keep it up!

  69. Az Kaha Ze says:

    Thank you! It’s useful, and playful and I love the names you’ve chosen.

  70. Love this so much, Ingrid! Thank you.

  71. Reblogged this on Further Annotations and commented:
    Amazing.

  72. […] all started after stumbling upon a useful material published by, writer and illustrator, Ingrid Sundberg. Why is that article useful? Firstly […]

  73. applestreet says:

    WOW – special to me!! I LOVE Colours!! THANKS a lot!!

  74. […] So she created this color thesaurus. Here is a snippit. Read her blog […]

  75. Wendy Wahman says:

    Love this!

  76. This is great – what a helpful tool for writers! I’ve bookmarked it and shared the link on my book blog. Well done!

  77. Jessica says:

    Thanks!This is great!

  78. […] To learn more about Ingrid Sundberg, check out her website below: Ingrid's Notes […]

  79. ghostwrites says:

    thank you! bookmarking this page.

  80. Karen says:

    I would absolutely LOVE to purchase this in book-form!

  81. lauracbrown says:

    I love this! It’s so satisfying on a design level & a word level. I just tweeted the link from hipstr news.

  82. […] To learn more about Ingrid Sundberg, check out her website below: Ingrid’s Notes […]

  83. Reblogged this on openmindamerica and commented:
    Writers paint with words. Here are all the colors in words. Terrific!

  84. monkeydust12 says:

    Why thank you Ingrid, this helped me loads when completing my English Essay!

  85. louisecusack says:

    Reblogged this on Writers: Working with Louise Cusack and commented:
    This Color Thesaurus is a fabulous resource for writers. I was inspired with fantasy ideas just looking at it!

  86. MT says:

    no turquoise? showed my daughter and her favorite color missing!

  87. Pure genius, Ingrid! Thank you so much for this handy tool.

  88. […] Check out Ingrid’s blog over here.  She’s got lots of great tips on writing and the publishing industry. […]

  89. […] fall, here’s a snippet of a Color Thesaurus by Ingrid Sundbird. You can see the whole thing here. It goes from white to black and all the colors in between, really quite […]

  90. […] to a list – Compare colors to lists like Named Web Colors, Crayola, or Ingrid's Color Thesaurus and look for […]

  91. xaraxia says:

    Why is Jade an off-black when it’s more mid-green in tone? (Google ‘jade’ and you’ll see right away what I mean)

    • Hi Xaraxia,

      Jade is a stone that comes in many colors (yes, green is the most prominent). But it also comes in black, white, blue, purple, and red as well. You’re right, most people will associate jade with green. However, my personal association with jade is a black color (and this is a subjective color thesaurus). I used to love looking at the ancient Chinese sculptures made of black jade at the museum near the art school I went to.

  92. This is amaaaaazing! Officially part of my reference library!! Seriously, such a creative idea, beautifully executed.

  93. […] record is in this magickal place here, but I’ve attached the thesaurus in this post so you can witness what’s been floating […]

  94. Tracy says:

    lately, i have been falling in love with color. so, this is super cool resource :) thanks so much!

  95. […] to designate a color. Beyond the primary colors, everyone seems to have a different name for their favorite colors. RGB and hexadecimal formats are equivalent. The three RGB values each range from 0 to 255. Those […]

  96. Reblogged this on Evelyn Isaacks and commented:
    This is such a lovely thesaurus of color! It makes me think of other ways to express these colors too. So helpful!

  97. […] development. Writing descriptively can really enhance a story, as Ingrid Sundberg explains on her blog, “I can paint a more evocative image in my reader’s mind if I describe a character’s hair […]

  98. […] Anyone who has purchased a can of house paint or a bottle of nail polish knows that there is more than one way to say “red.” To keep track of the various synonyms for common colors, author and artist Ingrid Sundberg created her own Color Thesaurus. […]

  99. E says:

    Thank you for sharing! This is great! Just a heads-up, though – “parmesan” is misspelled as “parmesean.”

  100. […] Ingrid Sundberg must be of a similar persuasion: she shared a gorgeous project on her blog where she collected and organized all the various colors within a color. It’s […]

  101. […] « Color Thesaurus » réalisé par Ingrid Sundberg, auteur passionnée par les mots qui a décidé de collecter dans un nuancier les véritables noms […]

  102. Just put a link to this on my blog – brilliant for communicating colour ideas!

  103. Ember Leigh says:

    Ahhh! This is the exact thing I never realized I always needed! Game changer…thank you!!

  104. […] a reward for making it to the end of a post I wrote while watching football, here’s a color thesaurus courtesy of Ingrid Sundberg to help you correctly name any color […]

  105. alrharris says:

    Reblogged this on Pen Paper and IT and commented:
    Great idea

  106. ramona says:

    Your thesaurus is a work of art in itself.

  107. Junior says:

    Thanks a lot. Here, in Brazil, we use so many expressions for colors that sometimes we forget their official names.

  108. Beatrice says:

    Hello, thank you for sharing. I took the liberty of linking to this post on a French quilters forum (we love colours too!). I hope you don’t mind. If you do, let me know and I’l remove it. Beatrice.

  109. SC says:

    Hello, Ingrid!

    I found this post after it was suggested to me by a friend when I confessed to having some difficulty with my color-themed naming scheme for a certain story I’m working on, and I find it write helpful for me. I’ve even bookmarked it for any future color problems I may have!

    I noticed, though, that there was a color missing from either the red or purple charts (really, it could fit into either).

    Therefore, if it doesn’t trouble you, I believe I’ve got a color that you may or may not know for if you update this list in the future:

    Carmine, a shade of dark red with purple undertones typically used to describe the color of blood.

    I used carmine as the family name of a protagonist of mine who hails from royal lineage, because I thought it worked really well in that regard.

    So, there you go. Provide some useful info for me, and I give (maybe) useful info back in return.

    Thanks, and best regards,
    -SC

  110. A post as colourful as it is helpful! Thank you.

  111. This is lovely and so tremendously helpful…but isn’t jade a shade of green (not black)? Ex: Jade dragons, pendants, etc.?

  112. […] chart collection that contains different shades of colors with specific names which she called The Color Thesaurus. This color reference helps her to add specificity to her writing and paint a more evocative image […]

  113. […] chart collection that contains different shades of colors with specific names which she called The Color Thesaurus. This color reference helps her to add specificity to her writing and paint a more evocative image […]

  114. wannchon says:

    Reblogged this on wannchon and commented:
    เวรี่คูน

  115. Cass says:

    Thank you! This is so helpful!

  116. […] and children’s book illustrator Ingrid Sundberg combined a small color thesaurus to assistance we name any tone imaginable. From pearl and ivory to glow and fuchsia, we can now […]

  117. Someone just shared this on Twitter – and I LOVE it! Thank you for going through the time and effort to make this gem. :) *bookmarks*

  118. Thank you so much for creating this! I have felt self-conscious about not knowing the differences between some of these my entire life. You are freeing the straight male! :)

  119. lahcen says:

    very beautiful and helpful charts which reminded me The Mysterious Power of Red Color that I hope you will find very interesting :) Colors Indeed are fascinating elements of human behavior.

  120. Reblogged this on "Poetry Soul Closet" and commented:
    The Color Thesaurus – Ingrid Sundberg

  121. Henry Ong says:

    very grateful … God bless you,

  122. Reblogged this on Sara Letourneau's Official Website & Blog and commented:
    Found this recently while I was looking for websites and articles about describing colors – and I knew I had to share it ! I hope other writers out there find this as helpful and creatively stimulating as I did. :)

  123. I can’t describe in words how awesome this is. Thanks for sharing!

  124. Reblogged this on Nicholas C. Rossis and commented:
    An awesome resource for all authors!

  125. We “paint pictures” with words don’t we? :-) Consider this blog as “followed.”

  126. Reblogged this on chrismcmullen and commented:
    Wow. When I clicked the link, it was far more impressive than I was expecting. It’s amazingly comprehensive and useful, and the further you scroll down the more of a visual treat it becomes. You won’t be disappointed. :-)

  127. roweeee says:

    Thank you for this. Probably do need to expand my colour descriptions. That said, I wrote a post which referred to Australia’s Dame Edna Everidge where I described her hair as being “pink” or “purple”. After reading your chart, I thought about changing that but then I thought that when it comes to hair that the pink and purple were out there in themselves and these are the words we use out of I guess a sense of shock. I think I might need to have some practice on the colour front.xx Rowena

  128. Sarah Harris says:

    Great idea! Bookmarking this page to help with my descriptions!

  129. macjam47 says:

    I saw this over on Nicholas C. Rossis’ blog. This is an awesome idea. Now, I need to apply that concept to other words.

  130. Thank you!! A great reference.

  131. Reblogged this on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog….. An Author Promotions Enterprise! and commented:
    AUTHORS – at a loss for words? Ingrid has the answer – for colours! 😀

  132. mudpilewood says:

    What a great idea. I love the green selection but I may be a little influenced by Breeze’s skin colour.

  133. Hey that’s great especially useful to me because……….like a large number of men I have some colour blindness, which is a pain if I am in a hardware store looking for a particular shade, say a pale grey, and everything is called by some idiotic name which bears no resemblance or suggestion to its colour palette.
    For instance I have no comprehension of what basic colour ‘Windy Shore’ is. Neither does’Willow Wisp’ or ‘Decedent Night’ help. Oh, these are genuine paint shade descriptions! Can you tell what they are…..NO…neither can I when I have the can in my hand.
    So until the manufactures add a hint, like (this is a pale blue) in writing on the label your colour thesaurus would be an absolute godsend……Providing each section was noted as ‘blues’ browns’ ‘greys’ etc. to help us inflicted souls with this condition.
    Maybe you have the beginnings of a business there?

  134. mari wells says:

    Reblogged this on Mari Wells and commented:
    Great color reference!

  135. mari wells says:

    This is great. I reblogged it.

  136. Would make a great poster.
    Every classroom should have this one up.

  137. amommasview says:

    That’s pretty cool!

  138. Fun, fun, fun, I love that chart!!!

  139. billgncs says:

    what a fine presentation – I’ve gone my entire life ( raised two daughters ) and finally I can see what color teal is :)

  140. These charts can truly enrich my writing and that of others. Thank you for sharing, Ingrid.

  141. lovessiamese says:

    Wow. I’m inspired to make my own lists. May I copy this one and add to it?

  142. Amber Dane says:

    This is awesome! Thanks for sharing

  143. Reblogged this on Ann Cassowary and commented:
    Here’s a wonderful resource if you’re looking for just the right colour.

  144. […] to check out a color chart that young adult writer and illustrator Ingrid Sundberg created. Her Color Thesaurus gives specific names to shades and hues of colors. So, instead of describing the bird as just being […]

  145. […] Ooh, I love this: color thesaurus. […]

  146. jin says:

    wow..
    That’s wonderkful!
    I reblogged it.
    Thanks!!

  147. […] (like an open-source Photoshop), following the advice of a great mapmaking tutorial.  I use this color chart sometimes, and this medieval demographics calculator (though just for a rough guide), and I find […]

  148. Thank you very much. This is exactly what I’ve been looking for! How can I thank you enough? Good job!

  149. My brother suggested I may like this blog. He was entirely
    right. This put up actually made my day. You cann’t believe
    just how so much time I had spent for this info! Thank you!

  150. Reblogged this on The Scrapbook and commented:
    Brilliant!

  151. Elizabeth Goold says:

    Thank you for your beautiful color words! My students had a great time picking one for their tangram animal we created in class.

  152. […] this post is called ‘Candy’, you ask? Check out Ingrid Sundberg‘s post about the Color Thesaurus, that’s why! Hope you will enjoy browsing through my travel world, as I do when I revisit […]

  153. Bipasha says:

    Absolutely love this post! Ingrid, you just inspired me with the beauty of the vast range of colors, thanks a lot :) I’m talking about it on my blog, too. Do check it out – https://sunnydistrict.wordpress.com/2015/03/04/color-stories-candy/

  154. Phoebe says:

    Thank you so much for this! It’s absolutely amazing :)

  155. Amy Andrews says:

    I just stumbled across this, Ingrid – only a year late but better late than never. I think it has already changed my life. I used it 5 times in my writing yesterday! I have also posted about it on my FB page and its been shared 11 times! and had over 1500 views – all my author friends are going nuts over it.

    Well done, such a useful resource to have at my fingetips!

    • Ingrid Sundberg says:

      Amy! I am so excited to hear this! Wow! I’m so glad that the color thesaurus has made such an immediate impact on your write. Thank you for sharing. You are glorious!

  156. […] while we’re talking about names for colours, let’s finish off with The Colour Thesauraus, put together by writer, Ingrid […]

  157. Evelyn Steward says:

    I did not see (French) Ultramarine in you blue section. I will reblog if I xn and try to find you more colour names.
    Evelyn

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