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What’s in a name?

It’s that time of year when lots of TV adverts tell us we ought to be doing DIY…and if you listen to the banter between men, many wives are telling them to do it too! However, there is one element of the decision-making process which is highly influential, but which gets very little recognition…

Yes, you’ve guessed it. The names. Paint colours, furniture upholstery, curtain patterns…all of them can be made or broken based on the names they are given.

You see, men and women use different language to refer to the same colours. If the name a colour is given is too ‘male’ it is unlikely that women will feel content with choosing it. And vice versa.

A huge survey of colour names has been carried out with over 5 million responders. It plots the 2,000 most commonly used names, and places them on a grid according to the volume of times they were used by men or women. And the results are fascinating!

The best way to explore it is to go to the interactive version of the chart, which is here. However, if you don’t want to do that I will try to summarise the headlines for you below.

So, the most common names e.g. green, blue, purple, are used more by men than women. But only slightly more (57% to 43%). Men then use combinations of these to define other colours e.g. greeny-blue, reddish-brown. However, women introduce a whole new complexity to their language by adding in references to animals, flowers, foods etc e.g. camel, peacock blue, teal, mustard, champagne, mushroom.

The fun really begins though, when we get out to the extremities for both genders. These are the ones which are vastly dominated in one gender over the other. See if you can guess which gender refers to colours using these names…dark rose pink, dove grey, neon lavender, bright periwinkle. And what about these…goblin green, baby vomit, reddish blue, awesome blue.

So, the next time you are browsing the colour charts, make sure it is the colour you are debating, and not just the name!