Archive for the 'Colours' Category

New Feature: Colour Meanings

I’ve lately been taking an interest into colours (I use the -our variation of this word as I just kind of like the spelling for various reasons and have taken to using it of late). Because of this I’ve decided to start taking a casual look at the meaning of colours and their symbolic values in texts. One reason is just so that I get a better meaning of it, but also because I haven’t really found a really good guide for such a thing online. This I will try to make a regular feature on Tuesdays as I have a bit of time in between classes in order to work on it, but be warned it may come a day late as I try to finish it up. To go with this I have created a category for Colours for these posts to reside in to make it easy for those who wish to go and look up only these posts. To start this out I will start with the oddball colour of gray.

I can’t begin the colour gray without first mentioning a very interesting aspect of the colour… it is spelled both grey and gray. This has actually troubled me as a writer for quite some time as I’ve never been able to figure out which I should be using, which is more appropriate, even though both mean the same thing. I went to the Oxford English Dictionary to find out why it is that there are two different spellings for this word and what is proper, and there doesn’t seem to be a clear reason why it is the way it is. One guess is that perhaps gray used to refer to a darker shade, while grey used to refer to a lighter shade. It does seem to make the distinction though that -ay is used predominately today by the U.S. while -ey is used by the U.K. I also noted while looking at the historical use of the word that back in 1000 A.D. it was spelled græy which could explain why it got split off into two separate words the way it did.

Looking at the list of meanings from wikipedia, I noticed the big meanings they gave as mourning, elegance, March, neutrality, and Wisdom. The rest of the list I sat there and looked at wondering if people actually thought that certain things meant these things, such as Urban Sprawl. I mean who really has a colour that symbolizes Urban Sprawl? As a personal addition to this, I would say gray can also be represented as a sense of melancholy or depression as well as storms or rain.

Wikipedia also notes in the section on gray that mythology generally associates goblins with gray, and Norse mythology in particular tends to dress their gnomes in gray largely due to their association with dusk. So I guess we could also include dusk in our meanings of grey as well as a couple of interesting mythological creatures.

Another interesting side note comes from Dreammoods.com. I am largely interested in the symbolism of things in dreams and they note the meanings of gray in your dreams as indicating fear, depression, ill health, ambivalence, confusion and an emotional detachment. These meanings I think go along with what I would think the meaning of gray would be a little more, with a couple of associated meanings in addition to it. So I suppose a question that I would bring into this is do we give colours a more contextual non-existant meaning in texts, and is the dream meanings more correct to our actual associations with colours, or is dreammoods just a rather faulty source to be looking at for such info?