Mater List Colours Colors Crime Writing

Master List: Colours

What goes through our minds when we see the colour orange as opposed to green? Below is a list of words commonly associated with various colours.

I have also included synonyms, different words for the colour, to help you describe the exact shade you’re thinking of for your story.

Knowing a bit about the psychology of colour could help you write your crime story. What colour outfit will your antagonist/protagonist/witnesses dress in? Will your novel title revolve around a specific colour e.g. The Silver Tide? Does colour have a significance to your story e.g. the colour red in The Sixth Sense? Will your characters’ name have a colour in it to reflect these associated words e.g. Robert Green?

The way we use colour can tell the reader something about our characters and crime without using words.

Scroll to the bottom for further info on cultural differences in perception of colours, the following are largely Western ideas.


What we think of: Blood, danger, aggression, rage, energy, fire, love, passion, sexy, power, violence, strength, war

Synonyms: deep, wine, blush, cherry, garnet, brick, berry, pillarbox, blood, rose, crimson, ruby, scarlet, fire, vermillion, burgundy, beetroot, tomato, pomegranate, chilli, bright



What we think of: Enthusiasm, joy, optimism, sunshine, energy, exotic

Synonyms: amber, tangerine, carrot, fire, rusty, peach, ginger, terracotta, apricot, pumpkin,



What we think of: Energy, happiness, intellect, joy, optimism, sunshine, warmth, light

Synonyms: golden, sandy, canary, sunny, mustard, honey, lemon, saffron, sunshine, corn, sunflower, buttery, light



What we think of: Balance, calm, freshness, growth, money, nature, safety, military

Synonyms: emerald, pistachio, turquoise, lime, sage, olive, mint, pine, avocado, grass, jade, leafy, bottle, ivy, mossy, aqua



What we think of: Cleanliness, peace, calm, sea, sky, stability, trust

Synonyms: azure, navy, duck egg, inky, sky, cobalt, sapphire, peacock, teal, cerulean, indigo, royal, baby, cornflower, periwinkle, ocean, pool, aqua



What we think of: Luxury, nobility, power, royalty, excitement, expression

Synonyms: violet, mauve, lilac, heather, lavender, plum, maroon, aubergine/eggplant, grape



What we think of: Compassion, vibrancy, immaturity, delicate, love, desire, silliness, playful, sweet

Synonyms: salmon, magenta, bubble gum, rose, dusty, blush, fuchsia, neon, rouge, strawberry, hot pink, coral, peach, bright, flamingo, cotton candy



What we think of: Friendship, protection, security, rich, rustic, natural

Synonyms: muddy, coffee, earthy, chestnut, hazel, mocha, tawny, wood, sepia, tan, chocolate, bronze, mahogany, taupe



What we think of: Death, evil, mystery, power, the unknown, bold, nighttime

Synonyms: noir, dark, tar, ebony, inky, grey, jet, obsidian, oil, coal, soot, sable, midnight, pitch, onyx, carbon



What we think of: Completion, innocence, light, purity, clean, airy, sterile

Synonyms: milky, ivory, porcelain, bone, pure, cotton, powder, snow, pearl, cloud, paper or sheet, alabaster, cream, marble



What we think of: Prestige, quality, success, wealth, wisdom, bling, luxury, opulent

Synonyms: sand, lion, amber, metallic



What we think of: Emotion, the moon, mystery, sleek/cool, modern, neutral, dull

Synonyms: grey, graphite, smokey, pewter, dove, lead, foggy, ashy, slate, storm, steel, metallic, taupe


Cultural Considerations

Not all of us have the same emotions attached to particular colours, and this can vary massively across different cultures. In the Western world we aware of some of these differences, such as the importance of the colour red for prosperity in the Far East (thanks HSBC advert!) but what about the rest of the colours, and the rest of the world?

This infographic by Top Web Design Schools is a fab source:



Over to you

Have you set your story somewhere other than the Western world and had to amend your thoughts on colour? Is this easy to do? I’d love to hear from you!


Click for Sources/Further Reading.

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