Word Ways

Article Title

A Color Ado


Darryl Francis


Color surnames are a lot more varied than most people would at first expect. Everyone is aware of the color names BLACK, BROWN, GRAY (and GREY), GREEN and WHITE. Elsdon C. Smith, in his book Treasury of Name Lore (Harper & Row, 1967), suggests derivations of these very common color names. He also mentions some other color names: BLUE, LAVENDER, ORANGE, PINK, and PURPLE.

We wondered if there were other such color names, and we decided to start a search for them. We cross-checked color names from Webster's Third New International Dictionary with surname entries from the 1967 and 1968 London telephone directories. No doubt a similar examination of American telephone directories would reveal many identical names. Our preliminary list of color names has one hundred examples.