A vivid and visual guide to colors in Chinese and their meanings

For the superstitious and otherwise, learning the colors in Chinese can bring you favorable outcomes.

Whether you believe in superstitions and the symbolism of colors or not, knowing how to talk about a wide variety of colors in Chinese will allow you to express yourself in a much more complete way. From painting more vivid stories to being more specific with your descriptions, learning a few colors will help you tremendously in your Chinese-learning journey.

But we won’t just give you a handful of colors — that would be much too simple! What’s the beauty in life if we can’t express our words in lilac, turquoise, and ultramarine? Being able to experience different hues and tones is part of what makes life so beautiful, and the same is true for languages. Why learn Chinese if you aren’t planning to fill your sentences with color?

Plus, traditional Chinese culture has a different way of dealing with colors and color hues. Perhaps you’d be surprised to learn that their way of categorizing colors is quite different from the Western way, so there are many shades and hues that exist in Chinese that don’t exist in English! For your convenience, we’ll cover both Western and traditional Chinese colors in this guide, leaving you with 187 unique tones and shades!

Without further ado, let’s get started!

Table of contents

Why learn all the colors in Chinese?

If you’re just getting started with your Mandarin classes, then you might be wondering if it’s too early to spend time learning all the colors. However, there are many reasons to start thinking about Chinese colors early on in your journey. Here are a few reasons why you should learn them in the earlier stages:

  • Describe more accurately. Of course, one of the main reasons to learn them is to be able to describe the objects around you. Now, you’ll be able to point out that blue shirt and that red car.
  • Colors are part of everyday life. You'll unlock a whole new level of appreciation for the vibrant tapestry of Chinese culture & gain a new way to feel and understand the world.
  • Colors are cultural. Colors in Chinese culture are more than just shades – they embody the unique aesthetic taste, ancient cultural heritage, and worldviews of Chinese people.
  • Understand more Chinese idioms. There are countless idioms in Chinese that use colors. Without knowing how to say the colors in Chinese, there’s no way you’d understand these fun and insightful idioms.

Colors in Chinese

Before we jump into this massive list of 187 colors in Mandarin, we should start with the very basics: how to say color in Chinese. The word for color is 颜色 (yán sè), which is made up of the character 颜 (yán) for “face” or “appearance” and 色 (sè) for “color.” This last one is especially important, as it also appears as the second character in all the main colors, like:

  • 白色 (bái sè) — white
  • 黑色 (hēi sè) — black
  • 蓝色 (lán sè) — blue
  • 红色 (hóng sè) — red
  • 绿色 (lǜ sè) — green

As you can see, all of these colors have the 色 from 颜色 at the end. This is a quick way for you to realize that a word is a color, even if you haven’t learned it yet or can’t remember it.

Now, before we get started with all the beautiful shades of colors, we need to discuss the difference between colors in Chinese and Western culture.

Difference between colors in Chinese and Western cultures

In Western culture, colors are associated with physical properties and scientific theories. Plants, animals, and natural phenomena are widely embraced and incorporated into the realm of colors. One prominent example is the creation of the seven-color spectrum. Sir Isaac Newton, through the ingenious use of a prism, refracted sunlight and revealed its hidden composition: red, orange, yellow, green, cyan, blue, and violet.

Following this groundbreaking discovery, physicists delved into the scientific exploration of color, ultimately unveiling three fundamental color attributes: brightness, purity, and hue. Furthermore, a systematic numerical coding system was devised to precisely categorize each distinct color.

In Chinese culture, colors are derived from nature & imagination. Traditional Chinese colors are based on the concept of expressing ideas through colors. Chinese art primarily uses mineral and plant materials as raw materials, so the formula people use to name colors: color name = name of the material as a modifier + inherent color of the material.

We can read each Chinese color as an aesthetic painting. It depicts organisms or objects found in everyday life. It also represents people’s experiences and interpretations of the world.

Shades of purple

Purple comes in many fun as well as relaxing shades. From a vibrant violet to a laid-back lavender, you can take advantage of this color’s versatility and implement some of these shades into your vocabulary.

EnglishChinesePinyinPronunciationHEX Code
Lavender薰衣草色xūn yī cǎo sèshiun i tsao seh#E39FF6
Purple紫色zǐ sètzyy seh#800080
Violet紫罗兰色zǐ luó lán sètzyy luo lan seh#710193
Grape葡萄紫pú táo zǐpwu taur tzyy#6F2DA8
Mauve淡紫色dàn zǐ sèdann tzyy seh#FFD700
Mulberry桑葚紫sāng shèn zǐsang shenn tzyy#7FFF00
Plum紫红色zǐ hóng sètzyy horng seh#601A35
Plum梅红色méi hóng sèmei horng seh#601A35
Lilac丁香紫dīng xiāng zǐding shiang tzyy#C812C8
Indigo蓝紫色lán zǐ sèlan tzyy seh#4B0082
Indigo靛蓝色diàn lán sèdiann lan seh#4B0082

Purple in Chinese.

Traditional Chinese purple

In traditional Chinese culture, purple represents immortality and divine beings. Today, however, purple represents love and romance in China. Since red is already taken by luck and auspiciousness, purple is commonly used by the younger generations to signify love!

EnglishChinesePinyinPronunciationHEX CodeComments
Dark Reddish Purple绛紫jiàng zǐjianq tzyy#815476A dark and reddish-purple color often associated with sunset glow.
Rosewood紫檀zǐ tántzyy tarn#4C221BA warm, reddish-purple hue resembling rosewood.
Goldfish purple金鱼紫jīn yú zǐjin yu tzyy#500A16A purple color reminiscent of the vibrant hues seen in goldfish.
Pig liver purple猪肝紫zhū gān zǐju gan tzyy#541E24A rich and dark shade of purple similar to the color of pig liver.
Blackish purple绀青gàn qīnggann ching#003371A deep, dark shade of blue, often associated with indigo dye.
Begonia purple紫棠zǐ tángtzyy tarng#56004FA purplish-red color resembling the purple begonia.
Lotus blue青莲qīng liánching lian#801DAEA serene and light shade of blue resembling lotus flowers.
Snowy blue雪青xuě qīngsheue ching#B0A4E3A pale, cool-toned shade of blue resembling snowy skies.
Morning glory purple牵牛紫qiān niú zǐchian niou tzyy#A22076A deep purple resembling purple morning glory.

Shades of orange

Orange comes in many shades, from the cozy fall pumpkin tones to the funky and tropical citrus-orange hues. Below are some of the most common shades of orange in Chinese.

EnglishChinesePinyinPronunciationHEX Code
Tangerine柑橘色gān jú sègan jyu seh#F28500
Orange橙色chéng sècherng seh#FFA500
Amber琥珀色hǔ pò sèhuu poh seh#FFBF00
Amber橙黄色chéng huáng sècherng hwang seh#FFBF00
Bronze古铜色gǔ tóng sèguu torng seh#B2560D
Burnt Orange焦橙色jiāo chéng sèjiau cherng seh#CC5500
Marmalade果酱橙guǒ jiàng chéngguoo jianq cherng#D16002
Mango芒果色máng guǒ sèmang guoo seh#FFBF34
Rust铁锈色tiě xiù sètiee shiow seh#AB0B23
Papaya木瓜色mù guā sèmuh gua seh#E66A35

Orange in Chinese.

Traditional Chinese orange

Orange in traditional Chinese society is closely associated with red, and, as such, is used for similar purposes. You might be able to spot orange close to red decorations in Chinese New Year festivities!

EnglishChinesePinyinPronunciationHEX CodeComments
Apricot yellow杏黄xìng huángshinq hwang#FFA631A light yellow-orange color resembling the hue of apricot
Orange yellow橙黄chéng huángcherng hwang#FFA400A bright yellowish-orange color similar to the vibrant shade of oranges.
Pinkish orange美人焦橙měi rén jiāo chéngmeei ren jiau cherng#FA7E23A pinkish orange resembles the hue of an orange-colored flower: Canna indica
Apricot red杏红xìng hóngshinq horng#FF8C31A reddish-orange color resembling the color of ripe apricots.
Tangerine yellow橘黄jú huángjyu hwang#FF8936A yellowish-orange color similar to the shade of tangerines.
Ripe tangerine red橘红jú hóngjyu hwang#FF7500A reddish-orange color resembling the color of ripe tangerines.
Crab shell red蟹壳红xiè ké hóngshieh ker horng#F27635A dark red color that resembles the shell of a crab.
Chinese globeflower orange金莲花橙jīn lián huā chéngjin lian hua cherng#F86B1DAn orange color that resembles the hue of the Chinese globeflower.
Seashell orange海螺橙hǎi luó chénghae luo cherng#F0945DAn orange color similar to the shade found in seashells.

Shades of blue

Blue is one of the most popular and versatile colors, with tons of captivating shades that range from rich navy blue to mesmerizing Caribbean Sea turquoise. Here are some of the most common shades of blue in Chinese.

EnglishChinesePinyinPronunciationHEX Code
Royal Blue皇家蓝huáng jiā lánhwang jia lan#281E5D
Royal Blue宝蓝色bǎo lán sèbao lan seh#281E5D
Blue蓝色lán sèlan seh#0000FF
Turquoise绿松色lǜ sōng sèliuh song seh#30D5C8
Teal蓝绿色lán lǜ sèlan liuh seh#008080
Cyan青色qīng sèching seh#00FFFF
Sky Blue天蓝色tiān lán sètian lan seh#63C5DA
Navy Blue海军蓝hǎi jūn lánhae jiun lan#000080
Baby Blue淡蓝色dàn lán sèdann lan seh#89CFF0
Midnight Blue午夜蓝wǔ yè lánwuu yeh lan#191970

Blue in Chinese.

Traditional Chinese blue

Blue in traditional Chinese is, like in the West, typically associated with masculine things. It’s also one of the most neutral colors, without overly positive or negative connotations, so feel free to use it freely in your Chinese projects.

EnglishChinesePinyinPronunciationHEX CodeComments
Sky blue碧蓝bì lánbih lan#3EEDE7A bright and vibrant blue color resembling the color of the sky.
Azurite grayish-blue石青shí qīngshyr ching#1685A9A grayish-blue color resembling the color of Azurite stones.
Indigo blue靛蓝diàn lándiann lan#065279A deep blue color often associated with the dye derived from indigo plants.
Flower blue花青huā qīnghua ching#003472A purplish-blue color resembling the color of purplish-blue flowers.
Sapphire blue宝蓝bǎo lánbao lan#4B5CC4A rich and deep blue color resembling the color of sapphire gemstones.
Navy blue藏青zàng qīngtzanq ching#2E4E7EA deep and dark blue color resembling the color of navy uniforms.
Blueish-blackdàiday#4A4266A dark bluish-black color often used to describe the paints women use for dressing eyebrows.
Glazed blue釉蓝yòu lányow lan#1781B5A glossy, glazed blue color, reminiscent of the color used in traditional ceramic glazing.
Sky in a well blue井天蓝jǐng tiān lánjiing tian lan#C3D7DFA serene shade of blue resembling the color of the clear sky reflected in a deep well.

Shades of red

Whether you’re looking for a sporty red for your new car or a deep red for a smart and elegant cardigan, you’ll want to be familiar with these common shades of red in Chinese:

EnglishChinesePinyinPronunciationHEX Code
Burgundy勃艮第酒红bó gèn dì jiǔ hóngbor geen dih jeou horng#800020
Red红色hóng sèhorng seh#FF0000
Cherry樱桃红yīng táo hónging taur horng#990F02
Crimson绯红色fēi hóng sèfei horng seh#DC143C
Brick Red砖红色zhuān hóng sèjuan horng seh#CB4154
Blood Red血红色xuè hóng sèshiueh horng seh#710C04
Maroon栗红色lì hóng sèlih horng seh#800000
Berry浆果红jiāng guǒ hóngjiang guoo horng#AB0B23
Scarlet猩红色xīng hóng sèshing horng seh#FF2400

Red in Chinese.

Traditional Chinese red

Red is the most important in traditional Chinese society, as it symbolizes good luck, wealth, and joy. If you look at the Chinese stock market, you might be surprised to find out that stocks that are performing well are marked with red upwards arrows, while stocks that are losing value are marked with green downward arrows. Talk about flipping the script!

EnglishChinesePinyinPronunciationHEX CodeComments
Pomegranate Red石榴红shí liú hóngshyr liou horng#F20C00A vibrant red color resembling the color of pomegranate seeds.
Vermilion Red朱红zhū hóngju horng#FF4C00A bright and vivid red color often associated with vermilion pigment.
Reddāndan#FF4E20A vivid red color often used in traditional Chinese paintings.
Redtóngtorng#FF4E20A vivid red color often used in traditional Chinese paintings.
Flamy redyányan#FF3300A fiery red color resembling the color of flames.
Jujube red枣红zǎo hóngtzao horng#C32136A deep reddish-brown color resembling the color of jujube/dates.
Blood red殷红yān hóngian horng#BE002FA dark and rich red color often associated with blood.
Fiery red赫赤hè chìheh chyh#C91F37A bright and intense red color that is like fire.
Delicate fragrant petal red淡蕊香红dàn ruǐ xiāng hóngdann roei shiang horng#EE4866A light, delicate shade of red resembling the color of the petals of a fragrant flower.
Polished jade red尖晶玉红jiān jīng yù hóngjian jing yuh horng#CC163AA vivid shade of red resembling the color of polished jade, known for its brightness and radiance.

Shades of yellow

Yellow is another highly versatile color that can be happy and bright like the sunshine but also calm and demure like sand and cream. No matter how you feel about all these different shades, here are some of the most common tones of yellow in Chinese.

EnglishChinesePinyinPronunciationHEX Code
Lemon柠檬黄níng méng huángning meng hwang#EFFD5F
Yellow黄色huáng sèhwang seh#FFFF00
Cream奶油色nǎi yóu sènae you seh#FFFDD0
Canary金丝雀黄jīn sī què huángjin sy chiueh hwang#FF00FF
Chartreuse黄绿色huáng lǜ sèhwang liuh seh#DFFF00
Gold金黄色jīn huáng sèjin hwang seh#FFD700
Light Yellow淡黄色dàn huáng sèdann hwang seh#FFFFA7
Sand沙色shā sèsha seh#D8B863
Mustard芥末黄jiè mò huángjieh moh hwang#E1AD01

Yellow in Chinese.

Traditional Chinese yellow

Historically, yellow represents the emperor, power, and royalty in traditional Chinese society. It’s also in the name of 黄河 (huáng hé), the Yellow River, which is one of the two most important rivers in China. However, keep in mind that the color yellow today can be tied to pornographic publications. For example, a “yellow film” isn’t going to be one about the Yellow River!

EnglishChinesePinyinPronunciationHEX CodeComments
Primrose yellow樱草色yīng cǎo sèing tsao seh#EAFF56A yellow color resembling the color of primrose.
Goose feather yellow鹅黄é huánger hwang#FFF143A pale yellow color resembling the color of a goose's feathers.
Vine yellow藤黄téng huángterng hwang#FFB61EA vibrant yellow color resembling the color of vines / rattan.
Ginger yellow姜黄jiāng huángjiang hwang#FFC773A warm yellow color resembling the color of ginger.
Silky yellow缃色xiāng sèshiang seh#F0C239A Silky Light Yellow resembling the color of light yellow silk.
Withered yellow枯黄kū huángku hwang#D3B17DA dull yellow color resembling the color of withered leaves or grass.
Smoketree yellow黄栌huáng lúhwang lu#E29C45A brownish-yellow color resembling the color of smoketree.
Black gold乌金wū jīnu jin#A78E44A dark golden color with hints of black, resembling black gold.
Dusky yellow昏黄hūn huánghuen hwang#C89B40A dusky yellow color often associated with dusk or dim lighting.

Shades of brown

Brown can be a very yummy color, with many delicious foods like chocolate, almonds, caramel, and walnuts representing different shades of brown. Check out these gorgeous shades of brown and pick your favorite!

EnglishChinesePinyinPronunciationHEX Code
Caramel焦糖色jiāo táng sèjiau tarng seh#65350F
Brown棕色zōng sètzong seh#964B00
Sepia棕褐色zōng hè sètzong heh seh#80613C
Chestnut栗棕色lì zōng sètzong her seh#3DED97
Chocolate巧克力色qiǎo kè lì sècheau keh lih seh#4E403B
Almond杏仁色xìng rén sèshinq ren seh#EED9C4
Cedar雪松色xuě sōng sèshinq ren seh#4A3728
Coffee咖啡色kā fēi sèka fei seh#8A624A
Walnut胡桃色hú táo sèhwu taur seh#59392B

Brown in Chinese.

Traditional Chinese brown

In traditional Chinese culture, brown is associated with the earth. As such, it is usually related to being grounded or being in nature. Check out these earthy brown tones from traditional Chinese culture!

EnglishChinesePinyinPronunciationHEX CodeComments
Tea brown茶色chá sèchar seh#B35C44A rich brown color resembling the color of brewed tea.
Ochre brownzhějee#9C5333A deep reddish-brown color resembling the color of ochre clay.
Camel brown驼色tuó sètwo seh#A88462A light brown color resembling the color of camel fur.
Autumn yellow秋色qiū sèchiou seh#896C39A color palette associated with autumn, featuring warm browns.
Black-ish brown玄色xuán sèshyuan seh#622A1DA dark black color with hints of deep brown.
Antler brown鹿角棕lù jiǎo zōngluh jeau tzong#E3BD8DA warm brown hue with a touch of reddish tint similar to the shade of deer antlers.
Withered leaf brown凋叶棕diāo yè zōngdiāo yè zōng#E7A23FA muted brown tone with subtle hints of yellow similar to withered leaves.
Cinnamon light brown桂皮淡棕guì pí dàn zōngguey pyi dann tzong#C09351A light shade of beige with a soft and warm undertone similar to cinnamon.
Oak leaf brown柞叶棕zhà yè zōngjah yeh tzong#692A1BA rich and earthy brown shade with green undertones similar to oak leaves.

Shades of pink

One of the most vibrant colors out there, pink is a very popular color thanks to its magenta, coral, and salmon hues. Here are some shades of pink in Chinese for all the pink lovers out there:

EnglishChinesePinyinPronunciationHEX Code
Peach桃红色táo hóng sètaur horng seh#FC9483
Pink粉色fěn sèfeen seh#FFC0CB
Coral珊瑚色shān hú sèshan hwu seh#FE7D6A
Rouge胭脂色yān zhī sèian jy seh#F26B8A
Magenta洋红色yáng hóng sèyang horng seh#FF00FF
Salmon鲑鱼红guī yú hóngguei yu horng#FDAB9F
Blush腮红粉sāi hóng fěnsai horng feen#FEC5E5
Hot Pink亮粉色liàng fěn sèlianq feen seh#FF69B4
Strawberry草莓红cǎo méi hóngtsao mei horng#FC4C4E

Pink in Chinese.

Traditional Chinese pink

Pink is considered a shade of red in traditional Chinese culture and, as such, is closely related to red and its meanings. Pink can symbolize happiness and good fortune, making it a good choice for cheerful events and situations.

EnglishChinesePinyinPronunciationHEX CodeComments
Magenta洋红yáng hóngyang horng#FF4777A vivid purplish-red color with western influence, resembling the magenta pigment.
Peach blossom red桃红táo hóngtaur horng#F47983A soft pink color resembling the color of peach blossoms.
Begonia red海棠红hǎi táng hónghae tarng horng#DB5A6BA bright red color resembling the color of begonia flowers.
Chinese cherry red樱桃色yīng táo sèing taur seh#C93756A rich red color resembling the color of ripe Chinese cherries.
Blushed red酡颜tuó yántwo yan#F9906FA rosy red color resembling a blushed complexion after someone is drunk.
Bright red嫣红yān hóngian horng#EF7A82A bright red color often associated with bright red flowers.
Peony red牡丹粉红mǔ dān fěn hóngmuu dan feen horng#EEA2A4A shade of pink that resembles the color of peony flowers.
Mouse nose red鼠鼻红shǔ bí hóngshuu byi horng#E3B4B8A light and subtle reddish-pink shade similar to the color of a mouse’s nose.
Spring plum blossom red春梅红chūn méi hóngchuen mei horng#F1939CA vibrant and rosy red similar to the shade of spring plum blossoms.

Shades of green

Green is usually associated with plants and nature, and many of the shades of green are named after them. From lime to forest to olive, these are the shades of green in Chinese that all ecologists and nature lovers should be familiar with.

EnglishChinesePinyinPronunciationHEX Code
Sage鼠尾草绿shǔ wěi cǎo lǜchuen mei horng#728C69
Sage灰绿色huī lǜ sèhuei liuh seh#728C69
Green绿色lǜ sèliuh seh#3CB043
Jade碧玉色bì yù sèbih yuh seh#00A86B
Jade翡翠色fěi cuì sèfeei tsuey seh#00A86B
Seafoam海沫绿hǎi mò lǜhae moh liuh#3DED97
Lime青柠色qīng níng sèching ning seh#AEF359
Forest森林绿sēn lín lǜsen lin liuh#0B6623
Olive橄榄绿gǎn lǎn lǜgaan laan liuh#98BF64
Emerald祖母绿zǔ mǔ lǜtzuu muu liuh#50C878
Mint薄荷绿bò hé lǜboh her liuh#99EDC3

Green in Chinese.

Traditional Chinese green

Green is a somewhat tricky color in traditional Chinese culture. Although it also has some of the same ecological symbolism as in the West, you want to make sure to never wear green — especially a green hat. Wearing a green hat means that your partner has cheated on you, since the family members of prostitutes used to be forced to wear green hats during the Yuan Dynasty.

EnglishChinesePinyinPronunciationHEX CodeComments
Willow green柳绿liǔ lǜleou liuh#AFDD22A light green color resembling the color of willow leaves.
Pea pod green豆青dòu qīngleou liuh#96CE54A fresh green color resembling the color of young pea pods.
Fresh scallion green青葱qīng cōngching tsong#0AA344A vibrant green color resembling the color of fresh scallions.
Pine tree needle green松花绿sōng huā lǜsong hua liuh#057748A deep green color resembling the color of pine tree needles.
Dark green绿沉lǜ chénliuh chern#0C8918A dark and muted green color.
Hazy greenpiǎopeau#7FECADA pale green color resembling a misty or hazy atmosphere.
Mugwort green艾绿ài lǜay liuh#A4E2C6A green color resembling the color of Chinese mugwort.
Emerald green青碧qīng bìching bih#48c0a3A blueish-green color resembling the color of jade or emerald.
Bamboo green竹青zhú qīngjwu ching#789262A green color resembling the color of bamboo stems.

Shades of black

You didn’t think black was just one color and that’s it, right? Even black can have some fun hues and tones, like midnight black and obsidian, helping you add some depth and texture to your black. Here are some examples of shades of black in Chinese.

EnglishChinesePinyinPronunciationHEX Code
Ebony乌木色wū mù sèu muh seh#080402
Black黑色hēi sèhei seh#000000
Cool Black酷黑色kù hēi sèkuh hei seh#151922
Ink墨黑色mò hēi sèmoh hei seh#070504
Obsidian曜石黑yào shí hēiyaw shyr hei#020403
Jet Black亮黑色liàng hēi sèlianq hei seh#030303
Charcoal炭黑色tàn hēi sètann hei seh#28231D
Onyx玛瑙黑mǎ nǎo hēimaa nao hei#030104
Midnight午夜黑wǔ yè hēiwuu yeh hei#040406

Black in Chinese.

Traditional Chinese black

While blue is associated with water in the West, black is associated with water in traditional Chinese society. This makes black a mostly positive color in traditional Chinese society, although black today can have negative connotations. Avoid wearing black to auspicious events like weddings!

EnglishChinesePinyinPronunciationHEX CodeComments
Crow black乌黑wū hēiu hei#392F41A deep black color resembling the color of a crow's feathers.
Blue-ish black玄青xuán qīngshyuan ching#3D3B4FA dark and profound shade of blue-black.
Dark black-ish brown黎/黧黑lí hēili hei#5D513CA dark blackish-brown color often used to express the unhealthy complexion of a person.
Dark and shiny black黝黑yǒu hēiyeou hei#665757A dark and shiny black color often used to express the skin tone of a person.
Deep black缁色zī sètzy seh#493131A deep and dark black color resembling the color of black mud.
Lacquer black漆黑qī hēichi hei#161823A completely black color resembling the color of lacquer.
Ink black墨色mò sèmoh seh#50616DA deep and rich black tone resembling black ink.
Misty black百草霜bǎi cǎo shuāngbae tsao shuang#303030A soft black resembling the mist coming out of the chimney after miscellaneous weeds were burnt.
Burnt ash black灯草灰dēng cǎo huīdeng tsao huei#363532A greyish black similar to the color of burnt grass ash/residue left behind in lamps.

Shades of white

White also comes with some fun and chic shades like beige, ivory, and eggshell. Perfect for decorating your apartment or putting together a monochrome look! Here are some shades of white in Chinese so you know what to enter into the shopping apps.

EnglishChinesePinyinPronunciationHEX Code
Beige米色mǐ sèmii seh#F5F5DC
White白色bái sèbair seh#FFFFFF
Ivory象牙白xiàng yá báibair seh#FFFFF0
Eggshell蛋壳白dàn ké báidann ker bair#F9FEFF
Coconut椰子白yē zǐ báiie tzy bair#F0EDE5
Pearl珍珠白zhēn zhū báijen ju bair#F8F6F0
Bone骨白色gǔ bái sèguu bair seh#F9F6EE
Alabaster石膏白shí gāo báishyr gau bair#F8F3ED
Off white灰白色huī bái sèhuei bair seh#FAF9F6

White in Chinese.

Traditional Chinese white

White in traditional Chinese culture represents purity, innocence, and death. You should also know that you should wear white if you ever have to attend a Chinese funeral, not black! As you now know, wearing black can bring bad luck to any event you attend — even funerals. Instead, be sure to wear white, no matter how odd it may sound to your Western ears!

EnglishChinesePinyinPronunciationHEX CodeComments
Silver white银白yín báiyn bair#E9E7EFA color resembling the brightness and shine of silver.
Frosty white霜色shuāng sèshuang seh#E9F1F6A color resembling the icy, frosty appearance.
Crystal white莹白yíng báiyng bair#E3F9FDA pure and translucent white color resembling crystal.
Moon white月白yuè báiyueh bair#D6ECF0A pale white color resembling the color of the moon.
Silky white缟白gǎo báigao bair#F2ECDEA silky white color resembling the color of plain silk without being dyed.
Fish belly white鱼肚白yú dù báiyu duh bair#FCEFE8A pale white color resembling the color of a fish's belly.
Bitter vegetable white荼白tú báitwu bair#F3F9F1A white color resembling the color of a traditional bitter vegetable.
Porcelain white青白qīng báiching bair#C0EBD7A bluish-white resembling the color of jade or white porcelain.
Grayish white花白huā báihua bair#C2CCD0A white color with a slight tinge of gray. Often used to describe hair.

Fun Chinese idioms related to colors

If you’ve been studying Mandarin for a while now, then you already know how common idioms are in daily life. Now that you’ve learned 187 different colors and shades in Chinese, you’ve earned the special privilege of using some of these super interesting and insightful Chinese idioms involving colors!

Red看破红尘kàn pò hóng chénkann poh horng chernTo give up materialism and adopt a Buddhist minimalist lifestyle.
Red姹紫嫣红chà zǐ yān hóngchah tzyy ian horngTo describe colorful and beautiful bouquets of flowers.
Red面红耳赤miàn hóng ěr chìmiann horng eel chyhTo describe someone who is incredibly angry.
Red红红火火hóng hóng huǒ huǒhorng horng huoo huooUsed to describe a lively and energetic life
Red红光满面hónɡ ɡuānɡ mǎn miànhong gooan maan miannTo say that someone looks great
Red and purple大红大紫dà hónɡ dà zǐdah hong dah tzyyTo say that a celebrity or famous person is very popular
Yellow明日黄花míng rì huáng huāming ryh hwang huaTo describe something old-fashioned or outdated.
Yellow人老珠黄rén lǎo zhū huángren lao ju hwangA derogative word used to describe women being old
Yellow青黄不接qīng huáng bù jiēching hwang buh jieTo describe a temporary deficit in manpower or resources
Yellow面黄肌瘦miàn huáng jī shòumiann hwang ji showTo look sickly and emaciated
Green戴绿帽子dài lǜ mào zǐday liuh maw tzyyTo be cheated on by one’s wife or girlfriend
Red and green红男绿女hóng nán lǜ nǚhorng nan liuh neuBoys and girls dressed to the nines
Green绿林好汉lù lín hǎo hànluh lin hao hannA hero similar to Robin Hood who lives in the woods
Green脸都绿了liǎn dōu lǜ lelean dou liuh lheTo look sick
Green花花绿绿huā huā lǜ lǜhua hua liuh liuhDespective term for something that is overly ornate or gaudy
Blue青出于蓝qīng chū yú lánching chu yu lanThe younger generation surpasses the older generation
Blue衣衫蓝缕yī shān lán lǚi shan lan leuTo refer to run-down clothes
Red and purple万紫千红wàn zǐ qiān hóngwann tzyy chian horngTo describe things are colorful and vibrant
Purple紫气东来zǐ qì dōng láitzyy chih dong laiTo suggest that a period of good luck is coming
White一穷二白yì qióng èr báiyih chyong ell bairTo describe someone as poor and backwards
White白璧无瑕bái bì wú xiábair bih wu shyaTo describe something that is pure and perfect
Black月黑风高yuè hēi fēng gāoyueh hei feng gauTo describe a dark and ominous night
Black起早贪黑qǐ zǎo tān hēichii tzao tan heiTo work from sunrise until sunset
Black黑白分明hēi bái fēn mínghei bair fen mingTo have clear distinctions between boundaries
Black颠倒黑白diān dǎo hēi báidian dao hei bairTo distort the truth
Black印堂发黑yìn tánɡ fā hēiyinn tarn fa heiTo describe someone who appears to be in very bad health
Gray万念俱灰wàn niàn jù hūiwann niann jiuh huAll hopes end in disappointment
Gray灰心丧气hūi xīn sàng qìhu shin sanq chihTo feel depressed

FAQs about Chinese colors

Young girl wearing red, as it is the most important color for the Chinese New Year.

What are the colors of the Chinese New Year?

Red is the most important color for the Chinese New Year. If you’re familiar with the legend of Nian, then you already know that this beastly dragon is deathly afraid of loud noises and the color red. That’s why most Chinese New Year decorations are bright red — so we can scare the monster away. If you’d like to learn more about the legend of Nian, check out our guide to the months, days of the week, and years in Chinese, where go in-depth on this story. Plus, you’ll learn some handy time-related vocab!

What do different colors mean In Chinese culture?

Traditional Chinese culture places a strong emphasis on the meaning of colors. Here are some of the most common colors along with their general meaning:

  • Red. Red is the luckiest color, as it symbolizes good fortune, happiness, and joy.
  • Yellow. Yellow used to be the color of the emperor and represents power, nobility, and good luck.
  • Black. Black is the color associated with water and is also believed to symbolize evil, sadness, destruction, and cruelty.
  • White. Perhaps surprisingly for Westerners, white in Chinese symbolizes death. If you ever need to attend a funeral in China, you can wear white. However, the Western meaning of purity is becoming more popular in China, especially among the younger generations.
  • Pink. Pink is considered a shade of red in Chinese, so you can expect the same positive vibes from red with this lovely color.
  • Green. Green has some of the same meanings of ecology and nature as in the West, with one special caveat: avoid wearing green hats at all costs. That’s because family members of prostitutes used to have to wear green hats, and, today, wearing a green hat means that you’ve been cheated on by your partner.
  • Blue. This has an overall positive connotation in Chinese culture as it’s associated with calm, healing, and trust.
  • Purple. Traditionally, purple used to mean divinity and immortality. However, today, purple is associated with romance and love, just like pink and red are in the West.
  • Gray. Traditionally, gray represents modesty as ordinary citizens would wear gray clothes to show their humility.

What are the lucky and unlucky colors in China?

Colors in China can be very lucky — but they can also be very unlucky.

These are the luckiest colors in China:

  • Red
  • Yellow
  • Green
  • Gold

These are the unluckiest colors in China:

  • Black
  • White
  • Green (when associated with infidelity)

Paint a beautiful story

Now, you know almost 200 different shades and hues in Chinese to introduce into the beautiful canvas that is life. Next time you’re tasked with describing the items around you or telling a beautiful story in Chinese, you’ll be able to access this massive list of all kinds of shades and tones in Chinese.

If you enjoyed this guide, make sure to check out our Mandarin Chinese blog. We regularly publish free vocabulary articles like this one, including food in Chinese and measure words. We also have guides on super helpful skills, like how to write a CV in Chinese and how to tell the time in Chinese.

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