Names Of Colors In Thai

December 10, 2019

Colors in Thailand have an interesting connection with culture. Sure, for some countries, the color of the flag is synonymous with the country itself. For Thailand, it goes even deeper than that. For that reason, I think it could be an interesting insight into the country to look into this further to help understand the language and mindset of the people a little bit better. Also, I just think it is good to be able to name colors in any language you learn.

In this article, we will look at the name of colors in Thai and some of the deeper connotations they have in the culture.

Colors Names

 
EnglishTransliterationThai
Redsii dengสีแดง
Bluesii nam-ngurnสีน้ำเงิน
Yellowsii luangสีเหลือง
Greensii kiaoสีเขียว
Orangesii somสีส้ม
Purplesii muangสีม่วง
Brownsii nam-dtaanสีน้ำตาล
Pinksii chom puuสีชมพู
Blacksii damสีดำ
Whitesii kaoสีขาว

As you make notice, the word ‘sii’ (สี) is usually placed before a color name. It actually means color and is used as a classifier of sorts that is placed before the name.

If you want to say light or dark when talking about a color, you would say ‘orn’ (อ่อน) for light and ‘khem’(เข้ม) for dark. You place these after the color name, so dark blue for example would be ‘sii nam-ngurn khem’ (สีน้ำเงินเข้ม).

The Meanings Of Colors In Thai Culture

As I spoke about before, there is some significance for the colors in the culture. Each day is assigned one or more lucky and unlucky colors. The reasoning behind this system is due to the Thai names for the days of the week. Each name corresponds to a planet or star in the solar system, which in turn correspond with certain gods who are said to protect that day. These gods have an associated color which is used as the lucky color for that day.

DayLucky ColorUnlucky Color
MondayYellowRed
TuesdayPinkYellow or White
Wednesday (Daytime)GreenPink
Wednesday (Nighttime)GrayOrange-Red
Thursday Orange or BrownPurple
FridayLight BlueDark Blue or black
SaturdayPurple or BlackGreen
SundayRedBlue

While this is an ancient custom, some people still follow this system. Of course, it is not strictly followed every day. It is more often relegated for special occasions, holidays, or certain superstitious dates and religious events. You will probably find that people do follow the ‘unlucky color’ schedule to an extent. It is better to be safe than sorry after all. 

Then there are people’s birth colors. These are considered the luckiest of all for the individual and so people may tend to choose to wear their color when they want luck to be on their side. Yellow is heavily associated with the royal family for this reason. 

Otherwise, it is questionable how many people actually still believe in this. It might be worth learning even if just to impress people with your knowledge of the ancient tradition.

The Deep Meaning Of Thai Colors

So there you go, the somewhat complicated back story of the significance of colors in Thailand. I hope that knowing this now motivates you to learn the colors in Thai and possibly even consider following the system. I know I have started doing so, even if subconsciously. Next time you are walking around in the country, take a look around at the colors people are wearing to see how many people actually follow this system. It could make for a great way to practice the new vocabulary too.

The Ling Thai app is another great way to practice your Thai skills. Try out the tests and strengthen your knowledge of the Thai language.

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