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Top 10 Weird Colours You’ve Never Heard Of
By Ash Grant,

Colours. We’ve seen them. We’ve had to recite them. We know them. We use them each and every day. You probably know your basic colours such as red, green, blue, yellow, orange, pink, purple, and possibly many more. You may know that the primary colours are red, blue, and yellow and that they can’t be made through the mixing of other colours. You may also know secondary colours, those created by mixing two primary colours, such as purple, green, and orange.

But, there are surely some colours that you’ve never heard of or maybe even seen, thanks to Crayola and the growing popularity of online use of RGB codes as well as Hex codes for layouts and design. Below is a list of colours you may not know exist. You’ve maybe seen them a few times before, but it’s safe to say you don’t know their names.

10. Malachite

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Malachite is probably a colour we’ve all seen, but never known by its “real” name. This colour is also known as basic green 4 and is often used when creating a green dye. This vibrant green comes from the carbonate mineral known as Malachite, or copper carbonate. In the 1800, the mineral was widely used for green paints because it was lightfast and often varied in colour. The colour is one that is seen rampant in history. For instance, there is the Malachite Room in Hermitage, and it is also said that Demeter’s throne was made of this colour as well.

9. Gamboge

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Think of spicy mustard and think of gamboge, but a little bit darker. The colour is a yellow pigment that is somewhat transparent, despite its dark tint. The colour is named after the gamboge tree, which is known for its yellow resin. The colour comes from Cambodia, where in the 12th century painters would use the colour as a watercolour paint. Besides being used as a watercolour, the colour has also been used as a varnish for wood. Gamboge as a colour started to spread, and in the 17th century made its way to Europe, where it was first used in the English language in 1634. Image source: Peter Zavislak.

8. Fallow

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Sounds like a word you’d hear out of someone with a heavy Southern accent. Maybe something like “Fallow me right over yonder.” Fortunately, fallow is a word - in fact, it is one of the oldest colour names to ever exist in the English language. Though not a considered a “pretty” colour by some, the pale brown is named after the colour many would see when looking into fallow fields as well as the soil, which was often sandy. The word fallow, to express the colour, was first recorded in 1000. It is said that the colour is also known in South African and Indian cultures as Ravi brown.

7. Razzmatazz

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Not the liquor; nor the song, nor the television series, razzmatazz is red-pink colour that was invented by Crayola in 1993, and was first found in the Big Box of 96. The colour is said to be one very similar to rose, which is found directly in the middle of magenta and red on the colour wheel. You can thank Laura Bartolomei-Hill for the name, as she was the one who named the colour at the age of five during Crayola’s Name the New Colours Contest.

6. Falu Red

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Falu red has deep meaning in many different areas of Sweden. This colour is a dark red tint that was a prominent colour used on wooden barns and cottages. The purpose of the deep red colour was to mimic the colour of more expensive brick homes. The colour originally came from a copper mine at Falun, which is located in Dalarna, Sweden. Unlike most colours, this one has been around for a long time, since the 16th century to be exact, and today is still used. Many realized that the colour is great to use in order to preserve wood. However, it is rarely used for homes in the cities of Sweden today, as brick became more popular and many wanted a more neutral/lighter coloured home. But, in the countryside, the colour can be seen everywhere.

5. Arsenic

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It doesn’t take a brain scientist to figure out this colour, but it’s definitely not a “happy” colour, so to speak. Imagine saying you want to paint your walls in arsenic, semi-gloss. You’d get some looks there. The colour arsenic is based around the element arsenic which is a dark grey-blue colour. Arsenic is a metalloid that is often naturally found. However, there are other types of arsenic that aren’t the grey-blue colour. Some are more of a red-orange tint.

4. Feldgrau

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A German colour, translating to “field grey,” feldgrau was the colour of German uniforms worn from 1907 until late 1945. The colour was also used in post war uniforms by the East German Army (NVA) and the Bundeswehr, West Germany’s army. The colour was last used on the woollen m/58 winter uniform. The grey-green colour is very similar to the greens, greys, and browns used in more widely used army uniforms, such as those of the U.S. Army.

3. United Nations Blue

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That’s right, the United Nations, the international organization provided to help countries with human rights, social progress, economic development and more has its own colour. Originally named United Nations blue, the colour is very similar to Dodger blue, but is more pastel like and not as vibrant. You will find this blue on the U.N. flag, as well as their emblem and even the U.N. peacekeeper uniforms.

2. Xanadu

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No this colour has nothing to do with Robert Greenwald’s film. Instead, Xanadu is said to be a colour coming from the colour of a plant. Xanadu is a green-grey colour that comes from a plant known as the Philodendron. The plant leaves are generally a green colour with a tint of grey. This plant is widely seen in Australia, but it is said that the plant got its name from Xanadu, which was an ancient city located in Inner Mongolia, China.

1. Caput Mortuum

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If you’re one of those super cool Latin scholars, or maybe one who knows a little about alchemy, you may have heard the term caput mortuum. In Latin, the words translate into “worthless remains” or “dead head.” The colour name comes from the variety of purples and brownish colours that are created when iron oxide a.k.a. rust is oxidized. It is said that the colour was widely used when painters would paint important people or religious figures such as patrons. It’s a highly popular colour used in dying paper as well as oil paints.

[Source: Toptenz. Edited. Top image and some links added.]

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