Chinese Colors And Meanings

Chinese Colors and Meanings

Red In Chinese

Red In Chinese

Do you think knowing Chinese Colors and their meanings is important?

The other day I was on the train and I looked over the shoulder of a Chinese man checking his phone for the latest stock prices.

To my horror, everything on the screen was marked red!

I asked him “gǔshì bēngkuìle ma?” (股市是否崩溃?) Is the stock market crashing?

He turns to me laughing “hóngsè hěn hǎo”( 红色很好).

“Red is good” – Anonymous Commuter

Chinese Colors and their meanings

One way you could really impress your Chinese colleagues is to show off your understanding of Chinese colors and meanings. Also when buying your Chinese partner any gifts it’s probably a good idea to know lucky Chinese colors and unlucky Chinese colors.

Let’s go through them now:

Black in Chinese
White in Chinese
Red in Chinese
Pink in Chinese
Green in Chinese
Yellow in Chinese
Blue in Chinese
Purple in Chinese
Gray in Chinese

Black in Chinese – 黑色 hēi sè

Black In Chinese - Chinese colors

Black In Chinese

Black colour in Chinese represents water. Ancient Chinese people regarded black as the king of colors. Today, Chinese culture associates it with evil and sadness. It represents bad fortune and must not be worn to auspicious occasions like weddings and funerals.

The Chinese word for black is ‘hei’ which stands for bad luck, irregularity, and illegality.

Maybe don’t wear that really cool black shirt on a first date with a Chinese person.

White in Chinese – 白色 bái sè

White In Chinese - Chinese colors

White In Chinese

Here is something you should definitely know before you attend a Chinese funeral. Wear White! White is the color of mourning and is associated with Death.

White color in Chinese is also associated with metal, representing brightness, purity and fulfilment.

Quick before you read on. Why not learn how to speak all these colors in our new HOW TO series on Youtube?

Red in Chinese – 红色 hóng sè

Red In Chinese - Chinese colors

Red In Chinese

Red not surprisingly corresponds with fire. It symbolises good fortune and joy. You’ll see red everywhere during Chinese New Year.

Warning: do not write names in red ink!

In ancient times, a death row criminal’s name was written in chicken blood, later this evolved to being written in red ink.

Some people use red ink in a break-up letter, a curse for someone to die, or the news that a friend or relative has passed away. So just stick with your black and blue pens for your love letters.

Pink in Chinese – 粉色 fěn sè

Pink In Chinese - Chinese Colors

Pink In Chinese

Pink is considered to be a shade of red. Thus holds all the same meanings of good fortune and joy.

Fun fact: In Chinese society, during holiday or special occasions they exchange a red envelope with money inside.

The red color of the envelope symbolizes good luck and is a symbol to ward off evil spirits.

Green in Chinese – 绿色 lǜ sè

Green In Chinese - Chinese Colors

Green In Chinese

Does your business sell green hats?

Well, I’ve got some bad news if you’re hoping to break into the Chinese market. Starting in the Yuan Dynasty (1279–1368) family members of prostitutes were forced to wear green hats.

Today, if you see someone wearing a green hat they wish for you to know their partner had been unfaithful.

Aside from the odd green hat rule. Green in Chinese otherwise stands for clean and contamination free and is used on organic products.

Yellow in Chinese – 黄色 huáng sè

Yellow In Chinese - Chinese Colors

Yellow In Chinese

Yellow in Chinese represents the element of earth.

Yellow signifies neutrality and good luck and that’s why it’s common to see it paired with red.

Yellow in China traditionally symbolised power, royalty and prosperity. In Imperial China, yellow was the Emperor’s color.

Warning! Today, yellow is symbolic of pornography in publications in China.

Try to use as little yellow in your publications to avoid the wrong crowds reading your articles.

Blue in Chinese – 蓝色 lán sè

Blue In Chinese - Chinese Colors

Blue In Chinese

Despite Chinese people’s feelings on blue cheese (see video).

Blue in Chinese represents healing, trust and calmness.

Ironically, we lost all trust with our Chinese teachers after making them do this.

Blue in China represents wood and also symbolizes spring, immortality and advancement.

Purple in Chinese – 紫色 zǐ sè

Purple In Chinese - Chinese Colors

Purple In Chinese

Purple in China represented divinity and immortality in ancient times.

That is still true to this day.

Today purple in Chinese is more associated with love or romance particularly with younger generations.

Gray in Chinese – 灰色 huī sè

Grey In Chinese - Chinese Colors

Grey In Chinese

Grey in Chinese symbolises humbleness and unassumingness.

In ancient times, ordinary people wore grey clothes and had grey houses.

Today, Grey in Chinese can be used to describe something dark, tarnished or represent gloomy weather and emotions.

Olympic Colors in Chinese

China has come a long way since Xu Haifeng won the nation’s first ever gold medal in the 1984 Olympics’ ’50m pistol’ shooting event. The olympic medal colors, however, have a much longer history in China. Read on to find out to say these colors and find out about their significance through China’s history.

Gold in Chinese
Silver in Chinese
Bronze in Chinese

Gold in Chinese – 金色 jīn sè

Gold in Chinese

Gold in Chinese

Gold is traditionally the color of prosperity and fortune in China.

You will often see it paired with red for special occasions and gifts. Yellow or Gold is traditionally considered the most beautiful in Chinese culture.

Gold also represents freedom from worldly cares which is why it is also often used in Buddhist temples.

Gold represents the color of a winning Olympian!

Silver in Chinese – 银色 yín sè

Silver in Chinese

Silver in Chinese

Silver is generally considered to be part of the ‘white’ family of colours.

It symbolises the idea of purity and wealth.

In Chinese the word for this color is literally 银 “silver” 色 “color”.

Silver represents a 2nd placed finish for an Olympian.

Bronze in Chinese  – 古铜色 gǔ tóng sè

bronze in chinese

Bronze in Chinese

As in English, the word for Bronze color refers directly to the metal that inspired the name.

In Chinese the word for Bronze is 古 “ancient” 铜 “metal” 色 “color”.

In museums across China you can find many ancient Chinese tools, pots and other artefacts made out of the metal.

Bronze represents the 3rd placed finish for an Olympian.

More Obscure Colors in Chinese

Maybe your thinking of sprucing up your Hutong apartment by giving it a lick of paint or choosing a vibrant new wallpaper. Or perhaps you just like talking about things with a certain amount of precision.

If so, you might want to learn the words for some of these extra, more obscure colors in Chinese. Of course there’s a whole catalogue of color names to get through, but here are some to start off your rainbow journey:

Azure in Chinese
Saffron in Chinese
Turquoise in Chinese
Cerise in Chinese
Maroon in Chinese
Lilac in Chinese
Tan in Chinese
Indigo in Chinese
Beige in Chinese
Violet in Chinese

Azure in Chinese

Saffron in Chinese

Turquoise in Chinese

Cerise in Chinese

Maroon in Chinese

Lilac in Chinese

Tan in Chinese

Indigo in Chinese

Beige in Chinese

Violet in Chinese

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  • Joss Avatar Joss

    Great info, thanks for sharing this! Loving the depth of colours you've gone to!

    • LTL Team HQ Avatar LTL Team HQ

      That was the plan, you can find Red, Yellow and Blue everywhere... but what about Bronze, Silver and Gold?!

      LTL Team