Eierschale = beige like an eggshell

Erbsengrün = green like a pea

I assume native German speakers associate various colour shades with certain easily recognisable objects such as Eierschale and Erbse. Apart from these two, I wonder what other colour names are commonly used. Familiarising yourself with these terms might well prove particularly useful in accurately describing the colours of Kleidungsstücke, for instance.

4 Answers 4


Very common is

giftgrün [= an intense light green]


More colours

froschgrün [= usually also for a relatively intense light green, named after the Laubfrosch, hyla arborea]

moosgrün [= darker, very saturated green]

schweinchenfarben, schweinchenrosa [= coloured like a speckless piglet]

mausgrau [often used for apparel of a very nondescript grey hue, or for people whose appearence is remarkably unremarkable]

veilchenblau [= violet, like the flower of that name]


königsblau [actually not in everyday use any more; it was once very common when people still used pens with ink, and the most commonly used type of ink was sold with that name for its colour, so it is more of a marketing word]

nachtblau [very dark blue, almost black]



anthrazitfarben [= dark grey, after the mineral anthracite]

kastanienbraun [mostly used for hair of that colour]

schokoladenbraun, schokofarben

ziegelrot [= red as a brick]

bordeaurot [= like the wine, dark and intense, with a slight touch of violet]

dotterfarben [= like an egg's yoke]

knallgelb [= very intense yellow]

schwefelgelb [= light yellow, like sulfur]

elfenbeinfarben [= between white and yellow, like ivory]

bernsteinfarben [= like amber]

kunterbunt [= of all possible colours]

Not a colour, but anyway somehow related:

bekannt wie ein bunter Hund ["famous as a coloured dog" = everybody knows him]

Note: I on purpose noted the adjectives. So you can say "ein ziegelrotes Hemd", "ein mausgrauer Anzug", "ein pechschwarzer Anorak", "ein giftgrüner Schlips" and so on. You cannot do this with some of the substantives used to describe colours. E.g. for the colour "Malve" you would have to say "eine malvenfarbene Bluse".


German speakers love nouns and so the combinations are both limitless and allowed to be created right on the spot.











Aletebraun (that's "Babykackbraun", from the famous Alete brand baby meals)

and so on and so on.

Oh yes, and I add


which is the color of a Harlekin.

And you should be aware of the wide range of RAL colors which are both numbered and named and have wide exposure. Paint cans are named with those and DIY markets color paint according to this standard.





are some of these color names. There are hundreds of common ones.


Here are some:

  • schneeweiß - bright white like snow

  • perlweiß - white like a pearl

  • himmelblau - blue like the bright sky

  • goldgelb - yellow like gold


Many colors are also named by flowers, stones and other things without naming a typpical color name like rot, grün, blau. But some of this color names can also be used by adding the matching conservative color name:

Only used without red, green and similar color-names:

Can be used with or without typical color names:

  • Ocker (ockergelb)
    a type of earth (ocher)
  • Lachs (lachsrosa, although its not really pink)
    a fish (salmon)
  • Schiefer (schiefergrau)
    a stone (slate)
  • Zinnober (zinnoberrot)
    a mineral (cinnabar)
  • Purpur (rare: purpurrot, although its not really red)
    a gland secretion of a snail (purple)

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