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German Colors: Learn the Words for Common Colors in German and How to Use Them

People describe things by their color pretty much every single day. Is this someone’s pink hat? Do you prefer red or green apples? Can I borrow your yellow jacket? Colors are an important part of our vocabulary. That’s why it’s so important to know German colors if you want to master the German language.

But what are all the different color words? And how do you actually talk about colors in German? Here’s everything you need to know about German colors.

How to Say Color in German

Let’s start with the basics – how do you actually say “color” in German? The answer is: “die Farbe.” But that’s just if you’re talking about one color. If you want to talk about multiple colors, you would say “die Farben,” which is the plural form.

German Colors of the Rainbow

In German, the rainbow is called “der Regenbogen.” But what are the colors of the rainbow in German? They are:

  • rot – red
  • orange – orange
  • gelb – yellow
  • grün – green
  • blau – blue
  • indigo – indigo
  • violett – violet

Other German Colors

There are, of course, many more German colors that you need to know other than the colors of the rainbow. Here are some that might come in handy:

  • weiß – white
  • schwarz – black
  • grau – gray
  • lila – purple
  • rosa – pink
  • braun – brown
  • silber – silver
  • türkis – turquoise
  • beige – beige

Tip: Learning all these new words may seem challenging, but there are ways to make the process more fun. If you need help remembering German colors, check out this fun song by Learn German Through Music.

How to Talk About German Colors

Now that you know all the different words for German colors, it’s time to learn how to use them in a sentence.

When talking about something being a certain color, we often use the verb “sein” (= “to be”). For example:

  • Der Apfel ist rot. (The apple is red.)
  • Die Bäume sind grün. (The trees are green.)

Another important thing to remember is that grammatically, colors are usually adjectives. This means that sometimes, you’ll need to use adjective endings when talking about German colors.

German adjectives only take adjective endings if they are attributive – meaning if they come before the noun. For example:

  • der rote Apfel (the red apple)
  • die grünen Bäume (the green trees)

Tip: Adjective endings are a complex topic. If you’d like to learn more about which endings to use when, check out our helpful guide to German adjective endings.

How to Talk About Your Favorite German Color

Children often love to talk about their favorite colors. Even adults sometimes use this topic as an icebreaker. But how do you talk about this in German?

Here’s how to talk about your favorite color:

  • Was ist deine Lieblingsfarbe? (What’s your favorite color?)
  • Meine Lieblingsfarbe ist blau. (My favorite color is blue.)

Describing German Colors

Sometimes, it’s not enough to just describe something as “green.” Sometimes, we want to specify what type or shade of green we’re talking about. Here are some words that might be useful when describing German colors:

  • hell – light
  • dunkel – dark
  • bunt – colorful
  • kalt – cool
  • warm – warm

Tip: When you’re talking about light or dark colors in German, it’s important to know that both “hell” and “dunkel” become one word with the color you’re describing. For example, “light blue” in German is “hellblau,” while “dark blue” is “dunkelblau.”

Fun German Colors

Germans like to have fun when talking about colors. That’s why you’ll sometimes come across some pretty interesting German color words. Here are a couple that might be useful to know:

  • schneeweiß – snow-white, white as snow
  • perlweiß – pearl white
  • weinrot – wine-red
  • blutrot – blood-red, crimson
  • ziegelrot – brick-red
  • himmelblau – sky blue
  • königsblau – royal blue
  • gelblich-grün – yellowish green
  • waldgrün – forest green
  • schokoladenbraun – chocolate-brown

German Color Idioms

In English, we often talk about something happening “out of the blue.” Maybe someone wasn’t being careful enough, and they got caught “red-handed.” There are many more color-related idioms in English, such as “green with envy” and “the black sheep.” But do Germans have color idioms, too?

The answer is yes, they do. However, these do not always correspond to the ones you know from English. For example, “out of the blue” is “aus heiterem Himmel” in German. This literally means “out of a clear sky” and is, therefore, not a color-related idiom.

Germans have their own color idioms. Here are some of the most common ones that you might come across:

German Color Idioms: Red

One common German idiom that features the color red is “einen roten Faden haben.” This literally means “to have a red thread.” But what do Germans actually mean when they use this phrase?

Well, in German, “to have a red thread” means that there is a common thread or a central theme.

German Color Idioms: Yellow

There are a couple of German idioms that feature the color yellow. The first one we’re going to look at is “nicht das Gelbe vom Ei sein.” This literally means “to not be the yellow (the yolk) of the egg.” However, that’s not what German people mean when they say this. What they’re trying to say is that something is not the best.

Basically, if you’re not the yolk, that means you’re not exactly brilliant.

The next idiom that features the color yellow is “gelb vor Neid werden.” This literally means “to become yellow with envy.” As you may have guessed, this is very similar to a certain popular English idiom – “to go green with envy.”

Interestingly, Germans say “grün vor Neid werden,” too. So, you can also become green with envy in German. Both of these idioms mean the same thing, and you can use either one.

German Color Idioms: Green

One popular German idiom is saying that something is “dasselbe in Grün.” This means that it’s the same thing in green. When Germans say this, what they’re trying to say is that two things are basically the exact same, even though they might sound or look different.

Basically, “dasselbe in Grün” is the German way to say “same difference.”

Another fun German idiom is “grün hinter den Ohren.” This literally means “green behind the ears.” You can use this phrase when trying to describe someone who is inexperienced or half-baked.

German Color Idioms: Blue

Blue is a popular color when it comes to idioms. Out of all the German colors, this one seems to feature in the most color-related phrases. One of these is “blau sein.”

“Blau sein” literally means “to be blue.” Now, you might think that this refers to someone being unhappy. However, that’s not the case. In German, someone being blue means that they are drunk.

In general, blue really seems to be a troublemaking color in German. Other than being blue, you can also “make blue.” “Blau machen” means “to skip school” in German.

Another German idiom related to the color blue is “das Blaue vom Himmel versprechen.” This literally means “to promise the blue of the sky.” But what are Germans actually trying to say with this phrase?

If you promise someone the blue of the sky, you’re basically promising them the moon. You are making promises that are impossible to fulfill.

German Color Idioms: Black

If you go to Germany, you might want to avoid “schwarzfahren.” This literally means “to travel black.” If you travel black, you’re using public transportation without a valid ticket. That might sound like a good way to save some money, but if you get caught, you’ll have to pay a hefty fine!

Another thing you might want to avoid is “schwarzarbeiten,” or “working black.” If you work black, you’re working under the table or doing illegal work. That’s another thing that will get you in trouble.

German Color Idioms: Gray

Many German colors have their own idioms, and gray is no exception. One phrase you might come across is “alles grau in grau malen.” This literally means “to paint everything gray in gray.” If you’re doing this, then you’re being pessimistic.

German Color Idioms: Pink

Last but not least, let’s talk about the color pink. This idiom is very similar to its English equivalent. “Durch eine rosarote Brille sehen” literally means “to see through rosy glasses.”

In English, we might say “to see through rose-colored glasses” and not “rosy glasses,” but the meaning is basically the same. If you’re doing this, you’re only seeing the pleasant aspects of a situation.

Conclusion: German Colors

German colors are something that every learner should master. You don’t need to know every single shade and color-related idiom to get by, but it’s good to be aware of these things. That way, when someone calls you the “yellow of the egg,” you’ll know that you’re supposed to thank them. And if you want to check if someone forgot their forest green jumper at your place, you’ll know which specific word to use.

Learn More

If you’ve come this far and you’d still like to learn more about the German language, why not check out some of our other helpful guides? Here’s where you can start:

Challenge yourself with Clozemaster

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