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Tertiary colour[edit]

the tertiary colour of the primary colours, red, green and blue

I thought the primary colours were blue, red and yellow. AFAIK green is a secondary colour (obtained by adding blue and yellow). Is this correct? D.D. 10:18 Jan 7, 2003 (UTC)

It depends the primary colours of light are blue red and green but the priomary colours of paint, or other things are blue red and yellow. -fonzy

Etymology of Brown[edit]

saved from tea room

Can someone look in the OED and tell me how far back the word brown goes? (My town library doesn't have an OED and I've never gotten around to going to the big town next-town over). Apparently the Chinese word for brown comes from the borrowed word for coffee and is a new creation. For us brown is the color of dirt but in China apparently the dirt has so much clay in it that it is a shade of yellow. Brown is a cognate for the German braun, so it looks to me to go back a ways in English but I'm curious. JillianE 01:52, 7 February 2006 (UTC)

Due to a TV series on the BBC the online OED is free for 48 hours each week, but not for much longer. The earliest cites for brown go back to about 1000AD for a couple of adjectival senses. It seems to have a "Common Teutonic" origin, but this etym is quite complex for me so maybe I've missed a bit. — Hippietrail 15:58, 7 February 2006 (UTC)
I'm not sure I get exactly what you're asking, but "brown" is about as old a word as you can get. It was used in Old English ("brun") although then it meant either "dark" or, confusingly, "bright, shining". There's lots of talk in Old English poetry of "brown-edged swords", ie with shining or glittering blades. (The comparison with Chinese languages is interesting but obviously there's no relationship.) The word's association with a specific colour didn't come about till Middle English. Widsith 16:08, 7 February 2006 (UTC)
If I remember correctly 'brown' is one of the later color terms that comes latest to a language, regardless of what color dirt it's spoken on. Berlin and Kay did a study on basic color terms in languages awhile back, and found that languages have a rather strict (but not totally inflexible) hierarchy of color terminology: if the language has two basic color words, their canonical values will be black and white; if it has three, it has those two and red; if four, then those three and either green or yellow; if five, those four and the other of green or yellow; if six, those five and blue; if seven, those six and brown; if eight or more, those seven and some combination of purple, pink, orange, and grey. Germanic is interesting in that it has seemed to have gotten many of these color names early and lent them out (both 'brown' and 'blue' got sent into Romance languages). When B&K analyzed Chinese they only found six, presumably 白色 (white), 黑色 (black), 红色 (red), 绿色 (green), 黄色 (yellow), and 蓝色 (blue) [I don't have the book atm to see]. 咖啡色 (brown, coffee-colored) appears to have become more common than the native (?) term 褐色 (brown), suggesting a lack of 'basic'-ness to 褐色 keeping it from being common. Having 紫色 (purple) appears to be an anomaly in the hierarchy, which may also be duplicated in Japanese. —Muke Tever 19:11, 7 February 2006 (UTC)
Can someone who knows the forms for adding etymologies add this to brown, please? JillianE 18:19, 12 February 2006 (UTC)


I think the derivations are incorrect. These other words are cognates to the English, the English word is not a derivation of these words, cf. deep. Wakuran 12:44, 17 August 2006 (UTC)

Fixed. —Stephen 13:14, 19 August 2006 (UTC)
Good, apparently one needs to fix all this by hand. Wakuran 12:06, 21 August 2006 (UTC)

RFV discussion: June 2016[edit]

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Slang for "coffee". Couldn't find this with the obvious searches ("cup of brown" etc.). Equinox 23:09, 2 June 2016 (UTC)

I made this up for the obvious reason (as coffee is brown) and decided to add to it at least for a little while. PlanetStar (talk) 01:58, 13 June 2016 (UTC)
We don't allow made-up words or definitions. See our Criteria for inclusion. Speedily removed. Chuck Entz (talk) 03:49, 13 June 2016 (UTC)