Latin/Colors

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Salvēte omnēs! We're providing easy Latin lessons here on Wikiversity. If you would like to review, you can find past lessons in the directory, a classified vocabulary list, and Memrise courses on the right.

We'll work on learning the Latin names for colors this week; soon we will add vocabulary for clothing and we'll be well prepared to describe it! Color names are adjectives; to review the two basic types of Latin adjectives see Adjectives lesson 1 and Adjectives lesson 2. The other thing you should be aware of is that there is a wide range of variation in color terminology usage in Latin; a good explanation of this is available here. You can also take a look at this post for a huge variety of Latin color names, but it is information overload compared to the basic colors we'll be sharing today.

New Vocabulary[edit]

Latin English Audio (Classical) Notes
General vocabulary
capillus, i hair (sometimes used in plural)
color, colōris (m.) color
Colours
Latin English Audio (Classical) Notes
āter, ātra, ātrum black (like a coal, not glossy); dark, gloomy
niger, nigra, nigrum black (glossy); dark
albus, a, um white (dead white, not shining)
candidus, a, um white (shining, dazzling)
ruber, rubra, rubrum red
rūfus, a, um ruddy, red-haired
aurantius, a, um orange Not often used in classical Latin
aureus, a, um golden, gold
flāvus, a, um yellow, blond/e-haired  
lūteus, a, um yellow used less frequently
viridis, e green This is a 3rd declension adjective: all other color names in this lesson are 1st/2nd declension
caeruleus, a, um blue
purpureus, a, um purple
roseus, a, um pink, rose
fuscus, a, um brown
cānus, a, um gray, gray-haired

New Sentences[edit]

Latin English Notes
Magistra in tabulā atrā scrībit. The teacher writes on the blackboard.  
capillus niger black hair
fēmina capillīs nigrīs a woman with black hair ablative case used for description
Equī nigrī in agrīs viridibus currunt. The black horses run in the green fields.  
In ātrā nocte multōs colōrēs nōn vidēmus. We do not see many colors in the black night.
Suntne avēs candidae aut nigrae? Are the birds white or black?
Ovis est alba, nōn ātra. The sheep is white, not black.  
Nix est candida. The snow is dazzling white.
Puella mālum rubrum edit. The girl eats the red apple.
Avis est rubra. The bird is red.
album ōvī the white of an egg
album oculī the white of the eye
Aqua est caerulea; caelum est caeruleum. The water is blue; the sky is blue.
Canis Lūciae est fuscus. Lucia’s dog is brown.
Barbarus est rūfus; senator est cānus; puella est flāva. The barbarian is ruddy/red-haired; the senator is gray-haired; the girl is blonde.
In vīllā flāvā habitō. I live in a yellow farmhouse.
Lūteum ovī the yolk of an egg
Pāpiliō purpureus pulcher est. The purple butterfly is pretty.
Ūva est purpurea; vīnum est purpureum. The grape is purple; the wine is purple.  
Prīmā lūce caelum est roseum. At dawn (first light) the sky is pink.
Hortus viridis manet. The garden remains green.
Virent ōva! Viret perna!! Green Eggs and Ham This uses the verb vireō = to be green. Other verbs exist and are frequently used for other colors.

Practice[edit]

Practice and learn the words and phrases in this lesson
Step one First learn the words using this lesson:
Step two Next try learning and writing the sentencing using this:
Note that the Memrise stage covers the content for all lessons in each stage.
If you are skipping previous stages you may need to manually "ignore" the words in previous levels (use the 'select all' function)

Latin color names have many derivatives in English; candidates for public office used to have to be very honest and pure, even to the shiny clean togas they wore, which were symbolic of their candor. For instance, words like obfuscate, rubric, albatross; some common Roman names were color-based, such as Rūfus and Flāvius. And of course, Harry Potter has such names as Rubeus Hagrid and Albus Dumbledore.

We have our first lesson in clothing next time. Valēte!