Learning Vietnamese colors helps you describe everything around you in Vietnamese and make your stories more interesting. In addition, in different countries, colors have different meanings to native speakers. For example, red is an unlucky color on Monday to Thai people but it is a lucky color to Chinese people. So, learning the meaning of the colors to Vietnamese people is also very important as you can avoid some issues because of cultural differences.
First of all, the Vietnamese word for "color" is "màu". "Màu" is added before a color name but you can also remove it when you describe the color of something. Now, let's learn the most common color names in the Vietnamese language.
|Blue||Màu xanh dương / Màu lam|
|Light blue||Màu xanh da trời|
|Grey / Gray||Màu xám|
|Green||Màu xanh lá cây / Màu lục|
If you want to say different color shades, use the word "nhạt" for light shades and "đậm", "sẫm" or "thắm" for dark shades. For example:
|Color shades in English||Color shades in Vietnamese|
|Light red||Màu đỏ nhạt|
|Dark red||Màu đỏ đậm / Màu đỏ sẫm|
When you describe something with its color, remember to put the Vietnamese color name after the noun. The word structure in Vietnam in this case is opposite to it in English. For example:
English: "A green bag."
Vietnamese: "Một chiếc túi màu xanh (lá cây)." or "Một chiếc túi xanh."
Một = a, chiếc túi = bag, màu xanh (lá cây)/ xanh = green.
English: "This Vietnamese coffee is black"
Vietnamese: Cà phê Việt Nam này màu đen.
Cà phê = coffee, Việt Nam = Vietnam, này = this, màu đen = black.
How about "rainbow"? To say "a rainbow", you can say "cầu vồng". To describe something having rainbow colors, you will say "bảy sắc cầu vồng" which is literally translated as "7 colors of a rainbow".
If you want to say that something is colorful, use the word "sặc sỡ". For instance:
English: "A colorful dress."
Vietnamese: "Một chiếc váy sặc sỡ."
It depends on the context to guess the meaning of a color. For example, they usually use black or dark colors for bad characters in a movie or a story, such as The Death, as the audience tends to think that dark colors are associated with evil or death. However, in business or fashion, black is considered "professional". The meanings of the colors also vary in different cultures and may change over time as well. Here are some common meanings of colors in Vietnamese culture:
|Color||Meaning in Vietnamese culture|
|Black||evil, professional, unlucky|
|White||purity, transparency, death|
|Red||lucky, passionate, love|
|Skye blue||peace, calmness, hope|
Vietnamese people use idioms a lot in daily conversation as they make the sentences sound more interesting. Colors are also used in Vietnamese idioms. Let's have a quick look at some popular idioms and what they mean in Vietnam.
"Đen như mực" (as black as ink) or "Đen như chó" (as black as a dog) or "Đen như ma" (as black as a ghost) - unlucky
"Đen tuyền" or "Đen huyền" - purely black / dark
"Đen như gỗ mun" (as black as ebony) - very black/dark
"Chó mực" - a black dog
"Ngựa ô" - a black horse
"Chợ đen" - black market
"Đen tối" (dark & black) - dark, evil, dirty
"Trắng tinh" - very bright, very white
"Trắng như tuyết" (as white as snow) - very white
"Trắng ngà" or "Trắng như ngà" - as white as elephant's tusk
"Trắng như ma" (as white as a ghost) - very pale
"Giấy trắng mực đen" (white paper and black ink) - we have evidence, you can't deny it
"Đổi trắng thay đen" (change white color by black color) - the effort to change the truth by lies or fake evidence
"Vàng như nghệ" (as yellow as tumeric) - very yellow
"Màu xanh hi vọng" (the blue color of hope) - Hope
"Màu xanh của hoà bình" (the blue color of peace) - Peace
"Xanh như tàu lá chuối" (as green as a banana leaf) - you look ill/ sick
"Giận xanh mặt" (a green angry face) - very angry
"Tươi xanh" - fresh & green
"Tóc xanh" (green hair) - young
"Đỏ như son" (as red as a lipstick) - lucky
"Đỏ mặt" (a red face) - shy, angry
"Đỏ mặt tía tai"( a red face and purple ears) - very angry
"Đỏ da, thắm thịt" (red skin, dark red meat) - you look healthy
"Đầu bạc răng long" (grey hair and lost teeth) - forever, lifetime, usually used to wish a new husband-wife couple be together for a lifetime.
"Bạc tình bạc nghĩa" or "Bạc như vôi" (as silver as quicklime) - to say someone no longer feels thankful or appreciates what the other has done for him/ her.
As same as in China or some other countries, red color is considered a lucky color in Vietnam. Vietnamese people also celebrate the Chinese New Year and the red color is mainly used in this holiday. Locals usually wear red clothes to visit relatives and friends as they want to bring luck and happiness to the people they care about. Lucky money is put in a red envelope, then is given to children or old people to wish them the best new year.
The red color is also used in wedding parties. You will see people decorate a wedding party with red color a lot. They also use a red fabric to cover a tray of wedding things when the family of the groom comes to talk with the family of the bride before their wedding party. The wedding dress, however, is not commonly red but white as white means purity to Vietnamese people.
The red color is completely avoided in funerals. You should wear black, white or dark colors to visit a family when they have someone in the family dead recently. Wearing red can be considered really rude and the family will absolutely not be happy with you.
The Vietnam flag has a yellow star on a red background. The yellow star represents the soul of the united nation. Five-pointed parts of the star are associated with five main classes in Vietnam: workers, peasants, soldiers, intellectuals, and businessmen. The red background symbolizes bloodshed, revolution, and struggle.
You may agree with me that life is much more beautiful when it has different colors. Now you can use the Vietnamese colors to describe everything around you in the Vietnamese language. Don't forget some Vietnamese color idioms that are very useful when you talk with a Vietnamese person. If you want to learn more Vietnamese and how to describe things with colors, try Ling App with a lot of fun mini-games.