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Naming Colors In Tagalog: The 3 Best Ways

colors in tagalog colors in filipino - philippines

The world is filled with colors, so why not try to dazzle your Filipino colleagues and friends using the naming colors in Tagalog? This article will walk you through two primary sets of how native Tagalog speakers point out colors. Officially, there is no exact rule when using a specific term.

In this sense, it would be great to learn the traditional Tagalog colors and their updated Filipino counterparts. If you are up for that, then off we go!

Can you imagine living in a place that is only in black and white? Sounds boring, right? Lucky for us, we live in a world wherein vibrant colors exist- from different shades of yellows to crisp oranges and reds; we got it all! In fact, there are millions of colors in the world, and some do not even have their names yet.

It is incredible how specific colors even evoke special meanings and emotions. In the Philippines, colors are even used to define specific characteristics. 

Let’s take the color of the Philippine flag, for example. You see, the color blue represents peace and justice, while red symbolizes valor and patriotism. The triangular white color on the left side reflects equality and liberty.

In the Tagalog language, color is directly translated as “kulay.” Here are some examples of how to use the word appropriately:

English Tagalog Example Sentence
Color Kulay
Anong kulay ito?
Translation: What colour is this?
To color Mag kulay
Magkulay tayo ng buhok
Translation: Let’s dye/colour our hair.
To color (object) Kulayan
Kulayan mo para gumanda!
Translation: Color it to make it look beautiful
Colorful Makulay
Makulay ang larawan!
Translation: The picture is colorful!
Of the same color Kakulay
Mag kakulay tayo ng damit.
Translation: The color of our shirts is the same.
Coloring tool Pangkulay
Ano ang gagamitin mong pangkulay?
Translation: What coloring tool will you use?

*Note: As you can see from the table above, what makes Tagalog a unique language is the fact that the meaning of words can significantly change just by adding a few extra letters.

How To Name Colors In The Tagalog Language

Since English is also the country’s second most widely used language in the Philippines, do not be surprised if you hear Filipinos usually use the English versions of various colors during casual conversations. In fact, the Philippines does not have many translations for different colors in Tagalog. Instead, we use this formula: “Kulay” + the thing commonly associated with that color.

Here are some examples:

English Tagalog Item it is associated with
Purple Kulay ube
Purple yam (vegetable)
Gray Kulay abo
Brown Kulay tsokolate
Chocolate (tsokolate in Tagalog)
Orange Kulay dalandan
Orange (dalandan in Tagalog)

As you have probably learned from our painless list of Tagalog numbers, most Filipino words are heavily infused with Spanish counterparts. In fact, even the common names reflect the influence of Spain in the country. At present, there are three major ways by which you can name a color: the traditional Tagalog translation, the formal Filipino translation, and the Spanish counterparts.

English Traditional Tagalog Translations Formal Filipino Translations Spanish Counterparts
Pink Rosas
Kalimbahin Rosas
Red Pula
Mabaya N/A
Orange Dalandan
Kahel N/A
Yellow Dilaw
Kunig Dilao
Green Berde
Luntian Verde
Blue Bughaw
Bughaw Azul
Violet Ube Lila Lila
Brown Kayumanggi
Kayumanggi N/A
Black Itim
Dagtum Negro
White Puti
Puraw N/A

The Philippines is the home of over 111 dialects. The translations from the first column contain the basic colors in Tagalog that are taught in schools.

In the third column, we also have the recently included translations in the UP Diksiyonaryong Filipino– a Filipino dictionary maintained and updated by the top university in the Philippines, which contains the oldest, newest, and colloquial forms of Filipino words.

As of writing, the words from the third column are considered poetic ways by which you can say the traditional Tagalog colors. Additionally, these words originated from different places in the Philippines.

Here are some examples:

Formal Filipino Translations Origin
Kalimbahin Botolan
Mabaya Ivatan
Kahel Bicolano
Kunig Ilocano
Luntian Tagalog
Bughaw Tagalog
Lila Tagalog
Kayumanggi Tagalog
Dagtum Cebuano
Puraw Ilocano

Learning Basic Phrases In The Tagalog Language

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Which among those is your favorite color in Tagalog? Is it “mabaya,” “kahel,” or “dagtum”? In case you forgot what the translation is, always remember that you can use basic English words since most of Filipino natives will still be able to understand you. And honestly, this is what makes the Philippines a great country to visit.

If you enjoyed this post on how to say colors in the Tagalog language, then you will surely love the Ling App. The Ling app is an exceptional travel companion for language enthusiasts who want to challenge themselves to learn several new languages.

To establish a more meaningful connection with the natives, using a dedicated app for learning Tagalog is one of the best methods for learning sentence structure and vocabulary words.

Besides being an entertaining platform, did I also mention that the app can significantly help you hone your reading, writing, and listening skills? Isn’t that interesting?

With your newfound vocabulary in expressing goodbye in Tagalog, you are one step closer to achieving full Tagalog fluency! Remember that the key to learning a language is time, continuous practice, and consistency. That said, gain confidence today and master the language by checking out the Ling App.

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