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Name that color!

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This post is inspired by my friend and neighbor Adora, who sent me a note last night in which she happened to say: “My dream job is to name colors… like, colors of paint, nailpolish, lipstick, etc.  My friends randomly point to objects and I tell them what color it is!” I had to pause at that and think: wow, that would be my nightmare job, cuz I’d be like, “Uuuuuh, that one is…dark green with sort of muddy brown undertones. And that one? Oh, that one’s more like bright green, slightly neonish maybe but not really.”

Ya. I’ve always had a hard time being able to name colors that aren’t your basic rainbow of fruit flavors. This I suppose is a rather odd shortcoming for someone who sells items made with fabrics in the most delicious assortments of color! It’s not that I’m colorblind or anything like that. I can see and differentiate colors and their variations, I just can’t recall their clever names!

What’s a girl with such a deficiency to do? Well let me tell you how I cheat my way through it! I hereby present you with…

5 tools to help you pick your perfect color name!

1) Consult good ol’ Crayola!

Crayola.com: There’s Crayola’s own list of Current Crayola Crayon Colors (CurrentCrayolaCrayonColors! CurrentCrayolaCrayonColors! CurrentCrayolaCrayonColors! CurrentCrayolaCrayonColors! CurrentCrayolaCrayonColors! Yup, 5 times fast ain’t easy.)


Crayola.com's list of current colors - an excerpt

Okay, so some of these color names just wouldn’t work in my Etsy shop. Can you imagine: “The color palette on this pillow cover includes shades of inch worm, macaroni and cheese, and a splash of jazzberry jam”?! That’d be nuts! I do love the name “manatee” for that light grey though. :] And indigo, mahogany, magenta and mango are perfectly reasonable color names.

Wikipedia: And of course Wikipedia offers a MASSIVE List of Crayola crayon colors, along with the dates they were issued as well as hex and RGB values. It’s easier to see the colors on their color chart, and the page also includes Crayola’s specialty crayon colors in addition to the standard. Fun!


Crayola colors on Wikipedia -- an excerpt

2) Look it up on — where else — Wikipedia!

It’s no surprise that Wikipedia has its own List of colors that go beyond just the scope of Crayola-made. This page lists colors alphabetically, and by shade! Here are some that start with the letter “E” (eh heh heh):


Colors that start with the letter "e", from Wikipedia

And colors that are shades of green:


Colors that are shades of green, from Wikipedia

3) Find synonyms and related words on RhymeZone.com

I use RhymeZone.com all. the. time. All the time! That’s my dirty little secret, not so secret anymore. Augh! There goes my edge. Sigh. All for the sake of the blog. The blog, I say!! Ya so anyway, RhymeZone’s good for any type of word. But did you know it’s good for colors too? Allow me to demonstrate. “Computer, show me words that are related to ‘green’!”


RhymeZone.com related words search

4) Use HP’s Online Color Thesaurus

The HP Online Color Thesaurus is a cool little tool that lets you enter your starting color and spits out 5 related and 5 opposite colors! The initial set of results is kind of limited, but you can drill down into more results by clicking on colors that come up in the results until you get where you wanna be. You want green, you say?


HP Online Color Thesaurus

5) Get fancy with these two related color tools: Name That Color, and Color Name & Hue

Remember that first green I was trying to describe, the “dark green with sort of muddy brown undertones”? Thanks to some color picking in Name That Color, I’ve figured it out. Avocado! It’s avocado!


Color tool: Name That Color

And the “bright green, slightly neonish maybe but not really” color? Hm…let’s see what Color Name & Hue, which was built based off of Name That Color by a color-blind fella to further identify the hue related to each color, has to say about that. That’s it, it’s chartreuse! Thanks, Color Name & Hue!


Color tool: Color Name & Hue

Am I the only one who comes up short when trying to drum up descriptive color names? How do you choose your color names? Inquiring minds want to know…

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  • Adora says:

    http://www.pantone.com comes to mind! If only they used English words to name their colors! Maybe they do, if you buy their $600 kit. Can you believe they already have palettes for S/S 2011?!?!

  • Agnes says:

    Jazzberry Jam! What a cool name! I can see it working for baked goods too. Jazzberry Jam Scones. Yumm..!

  • eleen says:

    Adora! The very one to whom this post is dedicated. :] How could I forget Pantone! But yes, couldn’t they name their millions of beautiful colors for the rest of us? Cuz I ain’t buyin’ that $600 kit. :P

    Agnes, I don’t even like scones but a Jazzberry Jam one sounds yuuuuum. Hey, I had KFC for dinner last night and had an order of their brownie bites. Not that it wouldn’t be obvious, but Teacake Bake Shop brownie bites are SO above and beyond it’s not even funny! Mm, brownie bites.

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