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
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!