Naming Colors In Tagalog: The 3 Best Ways

October 30, 2020

The world is filled with colors, so why not try to dazzle your Filipino colleagues and friends using the naming colors in Tagalog? In this article, we will walk you through two primary sets of how native Tagalog speakers point out colors. Officially, there is no exact rule when you should use a specific term. In this sense, it would be great if you can learn the traditional Tagalog colors and its 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 amazing 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.

 

 

Naming Colors In The Tagalog Language

Since English is also the second widely used language in the country, 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 a huge number of translations for different colors. Instead, we make use of 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 Ash
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 of the 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 Tagalog colors that are taught in schools. In the third column we also have the translations that are recently included 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 as 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

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 the basic English words since most of the Filipino natives will still be able to understand you. And honestly, this is what makes the Philippines a good 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 seriously want to challenge themselves to learn a number of new language languages. In order to establish a more meaningful connection with the natives, using a dedicated app for learning Tagalog proves to be one of the best methods in 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. With that being said, gain confidence today and master the language by checking out the Ling App.

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