Names of the Colors in French

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It is not at all difficult to learn colors in French language. Les Couleurs, as they are called in French, are sometimes recognizable English cognates, and sometimes are uniquely French names and often refer to particular things. Regardless, learning the French versions of colors is always pleasant and fun.

Primary Colors in French Language

The three traditional primary colors usually associated with art education, painting and the color wheel are as follows:

  • Rouge (pronounced rooge): red
  • Bleu (pronounced bluh): blue
  • Jaune (pronounced johne): yellow

All other colors are made up of these three colors. In French every adjective has a number (singular or plural) and a gender (masculine or feminine). Colors are no exception and consequently must agree with the nouns they are describing. In the case of red and yellow, this means a simple addition of an s to form the plural as there is no difference in gender.

  • Rouges - masc/fem plural
  • Jaunes -masc/fem plural

Blue is somewhat different:

  • Bleu - masculine singular
  • Bleue- feminine plural
  • Bleus- masculine plural
  • Bleues - feminine plural

The Un-Colors

According to color theory, white is at one end of the color spectrum and black the other. Our eyes perceive white as an absence of all color and black happens when all colors are mixed together.Blanc blonk is white which technically is the absence of all color. Blanche (feminine singular); Blanches (feminine plural); Blanc(masculine plural) Noir nwar is the combination of all color: noire (feminine singular); noires (feminine plural); noirs (masculine plural)

Other Well-Known Colors in French

There are endless colors in French language as in the world, and as many names for them. Here are some of the most common.

Colors in French
Color Pronunciation English
rose rose pink
vert(e) vair green
orange o-rohnje orange
violet(e) vee-o-lay purple
brun brhun brown
gris(e) gree grey

As noted above, the colors will agree with whatever words they are referencing as to singular, plural, masculine and feminine -- which is why it's important to know your French vocabulary well. Here are some examples:

  • La chemise verte: the green shirt, les chemises vertes: the green shirts
  • La voiture rouge: the red car, les voitures rouges: the red cars

If you add a description to the color, however, it becomes invariable and does not change to agree in gender or number.

  • clair (pronounced clare): light, as in les yeux bleu clair
  • foncé (fon-say): dark, as in une voiture bleu foncé

Authentically French Colors

Some colors are quintessentially french. This is usually because the color was originally derived from a French word that has no English counterpart. For example:

  • Chartreuse shar-troos - There is a green chartreuse and a yellow chartreuse. The name comes from a green liqueur first introduced in France in the 18th century.
  • Puce poos - Is a dark purple/red. The word translates as flea, which are indeed that color upon close inspection.
  • Taupe tope - Is a grey brown. This word translates as mole (the animal) which is indeed a greyish brown color.

For painters, raw umber and burnt umber are related to the french word ombre which means shadow. These are both shades of dark brown.

Where to Learn French Colors on the Web

There are a number of sites with can help you remember the correct french words for colors, including:

  • Youtube has songs you can learn to help you memorize colors.
  • Quia provides games that will help you with colors.

Remember also that one of the most important groups of colors to learn in French are rouge, blanc et bleu which are the colors of the French Flag.

Learning colors in French language is not at all difficult. It is also fun and one of the first group of words you can very easily remember.

Names of the Colors in French