I’ve seen here, in the discussion after an the answer by sedden, that two ways exist to substantivize a color (perhaps that also applies to more adjectives).

Is there any difference in meaning (or any aspect) between the feminine color and the neutral one?

For instance “das Rote” and “die Röte”. As one can see from the Duden, the latter is a completely conventional noun while the first one is obeys an adjectival declension (adjectivische Deklination) and other features of an adjective remain in it.

2 Answers 2


Yes, there is a subtle and difficult-to-grasp difference and there even is a third possibility.

First of all, a neutral form can be used for something in this colour:

das Weiße des Auges – the white part of the eye

das Schwarze der Zielscheibe – the black part of a target; the bullseye

The second neutral form (note the different inflection without -e) can be used to refer to a specific shade of a colour or light of that colour:

Ich mag das Weiß der Tapete. – I like the wallpaper’s white (that exact shade of white).

Das Weiß der Tapete blendete. – The wallpaper’s white was glaring (e.g., because the rest of the room was dark).

Ich mag das Blau ihrer Augen. – I like the blue of her eyes.

The female form refers to a tint of a colour, the extent to which something is tinted in a colour or the fact that something is in a colour. In the English translation usually -ness is appended:

Die Weiße seiner Haut war beunruhigend. – The whiteness of his skin was alarming. (Note that usually Blässe is used instead of Weiße.)

die Schwärze der Nacht – the blackness of the night

Röte stieg ihr ins Gesicht. – Her face turned red (she blushed).

Finally, the female form sometimes refers to a dye of that colour:

Druckerschwärze – printer’s ink

Malerweiße – white dye used to paint walls

I hope I did not miss anything.

  • 1
    With some bot not all colours there is the ending -e to make a difference with or without change of gender: das Schwarz - das Schwarze - die Schwärze, das Blau - das Blaue - die Bläue, das Gelb - das Gelbe.
    – Takkat
    Apr 3, 2013 at 7:19
  • @Mac: Thinking about it once more, I agree that this example was not such a good one. Though I would say that there is more to Abendrot vs. Abendröte than just oldfashionedness, it certainly is confusing in this context.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Apr 3, 2013 at 16:36

When I first red... read the question, my spontaneous answer was this:

die Röte/Bläue/Schwärze/Grünheit/Gelbheit... feels like the redness/blueness/greeness...

and while I know that most of those are not actually English words, I think they get the vibe of the female colors versions across.

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