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Basic Color Meanings

Updated on March 1, 2013

Color Fundamentals

Color is the universal language. Everything under the sun is affected by color, including plants, animals, bacteria, and chemical reactions. Colors are also an unconscious language we use instinctively in every area of our lives. It’s been observed that every creature exhibits changes in behavior when exposed to different colors. Each color has a clearly defined meaning and influence, which can be invaluable in understanding color and how it affects us and others. A subtle message can be sent very effectively with color alone.

The meanings of colors have changed over time and even now you will find different interpretations for the same color. Also remember that if a color means something special to you for some reason, I say go with your gut-feeling. I will give you a very basic, general meaning for common colors. As always, take what you want and leave the rest.

General Color Meanings

(see "Using Color in Your Environment" for more specifics):

  • black = absolutes, mystery, inconspicuous, unobtrusive
  • white = absolutes, pristine, clarity, freshness
  • red = heat, burning, immediate, restless, daring
  • Orange = curiosity, exploration, creativity, purposeful, remove blocks
  • Yellow = vitality, enriching, lightening, sustaining
  • Green = growth, increase, expanding, understanding
  • Blue = (1st aspect) peace, happy, rest, equilibrium; (2nd aspect) communication, learning, viewpoint, exchange
  • Purple = speed healing, integrate new skills, calm hyperactivity or energize lethargy
  • Brown = comfortable, warm, wholesome, dependable
  • Grey = Neutrality, detachment, cool, practical


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