Meanings of the Color Yellow and Its Color Associates, Yellow-Black and Yellow-Green

Beáta Bálizs


Embedded in culture historical research on color, the present study contributes to the hypothesis that a given color only obtains its cultural or symbolical meanings in association with another color. By analyzing Hungarian examples of the color yellow, I will demonstrate that a color may have associations of a different character in relation to another color: this association may rely on symbolism alone, as seen in the relationship between yellow and black in connection with the concept of impurity tied to bile, excrement and dirty soil. Connections between colors may also be based on sensory-psychological/cognitive similarities, such as those drawn between yellow and green in earlier times across Europe, an association that can be traced in some archaic elements of Hungarian culture, such as in the ideas connected to jaundice. In addition to this argument, I also propose that, out of excreta, compared to feces light yellow urine is closer to the category of white associated with purity (through the analogy of white wine) than to yellow which (also) symbolizes impurity.


basic color terms, cognitive connection of color, color symbolism, color metaphor; impurity; bile; mud; urine; excrement

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