Colors

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Use of color words is more complex in Korean than in English. See below for more details and examples.

Color Example Color Words Native Korean Adjectives Sino-Korean Roots (Chinese)
Red 빨간색, 빨강, 적색, 홍색 빨갛다 적 <赤>, 홍 <紅>
Vermillion 주색 주 <>
Maroon 적갈색 적갈 <>
Dark Pink 진분홍색, 꽃분홍색 분홍
Pink 분홍색, 핑크색 분홍
Light Pink 연분홍색 분홍
Orange 주황색 주황 <>
Orange 오렌지색
Flesh / Apricot 살색, 살구색 ※참고↓
Yellow 노란색, 노랑 노랗다 황 <>
Light Yellow 연노란색
Beige 베이지색
Ivory 아이보리색
Green 초록색 녹 <>, 초록 <>
Light Green 연두색 연 두
Green (Khaki) 카키색
Turquoise 청록색 녹 <>
Indigo / Navy Blue 남색,네이비 남 (indigo)
Blue 파란색, 파랑, 청색 파랗다, 푸르다 청 <>
Sky Blue 하늘색
Purple 보라색 자주 <>
Light Purple 연보라색
Brown (Chestnut) 밤색
Brown 갈색 갈 <>
Brown (Yellow Ochre) 황토색 황 <>, 토 (earth)
White 하얀색, 하양, 흰색, 백색 하얗다, 희다 백 <>
Light Gray 밝은 회색
Gray 회색 회 <>
Gray 진회색
Black 검은색, 검정, 까만, 흑색 검다 흑 <>
Silver 은색 은 <> (glitter)
Gold 금색 금 <> (glitter)

※살색(flesh-colored)은 인종차별적인 단어라고 여겨져, 2005년에 정식명칭이 살구색(apricot)이라고 바뀌었지만, 아직도 살색이라는 단어가 더 흔히 쓰이고 있다.


Use of color words is more complex in Korean than in English.

In English, a single color word can nearly always be used for multiple different grammatical roles and contexts. In Korean, there are various different patterns.

In English, each color word like "yellow" can be used both as adjective ("the yellow flower", "The flower is yellow."), and as a noun taking various distinct meanings: such as the color yellow itself ("I like yellow."), and yellow paint or light ("It needs more yellow.").

In Korean, on the other hand, all four of the above examples use distinct forms.

노란 꽃 (the yellow flower) 꽃 노랗다. (The flower is yellow.) 노랑 좋아해요. (I like yellow.) 노란색 좋아해요. (I like yellow.) 노란빛 더 필요해요. (It needs more yellow.)

That pattern is used for a small group of colors that have native Korean adjectives (descriptive verbs), such as 노랗다 (yellow) and 하얗다 (white). The normal Korean adjective form expresses the color as a noun modifier: 노란 꽃 (the yellow flower). Related to each adjective is a color noun ending in the sound -앙: 노랑 ("the color yellow"), 하양 ("the color white"). Somewhat confusingly, an alternate color noun can also be created using the modifier form of the adjective with the word 색 ("color"): 노란색 ("the color yellow"), 하얀색 ("the color white").

On the other hand, the majority of Korean color words follow a very different pattern. They use a color base word in combination with the word 색 ("color"):

오렌지색 꽃 (the orange flower) 꽃 오렌지색이에요. (The flower is orange.) 오렌지색 좋아해요. (I like orange.) 오렌지빛 더 필요해요. (It needs more orange.)

The color base word is never used by itself, but always in combination with a noun like 색 (color), or 빛 (shade, hue, tint).

In the table above you will be able to see that almost all the color words are one of these two types. The notable exception is black, which has a Korean adjective (descriptive verb) 검다 and a corresponding color word 검장.