We often talk about warm vs cold colors. When someone feels sad, we say she "feels blue".

I conjecture this may be universal across cultures due to our experience with the warmness of the sun (which is red, at least when setting) and the coldness of water (which appears blue, at least in the sea).

  • 4
    The sea isn't blue in a lot of languages.
    – Cairnarvon
    Commented Oct 24, 2020 at 20:09
  • And "feeling blue" doesn't make sense in even more languages but for some reason I upvoted the question.)
    – tum_
    Commented Oct 25, 2020 at 12:53
  • And in Ancient Greece, apparently, the sky wasn’t blue. Commented Oct 25, 2020 at 18:41
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    Color words vary from language to language in what colors they represent, never mind the metaphoric senses. In Russian, for instance, there is no single word for blue; blue sky is not the same color as blue jeans.
    – jlawler
    Commented Oct 26, 2020 at 14:25

1 Answer 1


Terms and perceptions involving color vary wildly across cultures and indeed time. For your interest I'd check out the World Color Survey (2009) by Paul Kay, Brent Berline, Luisa Maffi, WilliamMerrifeld, and Richard Cook.

Also think about things like the classic poem "Roses are red, violets are blue" Violets are indeed purple, but the concept of purple didn't exist at the time in that culture, hence, blue.

Any universal concept of a blue would be hard to pin down to say the least, as some cultures even count it as part of the color green.

  • And the Russian language splits the range of English "blue" into two colours, Голубой and Синий with Фиолетовый being violet. Commented Aug 26, 2021 at 21:14

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