13 Incredibly Obscure Colors You've Never Heard of Before
You won't find these weird colors in your ordinary crayon collection.
When it comes to colors, you probably think you know all there is to know. Sure, you learned all the colors of the rainbow in school—red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet—but there are actually plenty of other obscure colors you've likely never heard of. Though it's possible you may have seen these strange shades before, you likely mistook them for a more common hue. That fuchsia scarf you love could actually be amaranth and maybe that rubber ducky is aureolin, not yellow. Read on to learn about 13 weird colors you've never heard of before from the RGB chart, the additive color system used on computer displays based on the levels of red, green, and blue.
This brilliant orange-red pigment is believed to have emerged in China as early as the 4th century B.C., according to My Modern Met. Eventually it made its way to Europe, where it was widely used in Renaissance paintings. On the RGB color chart, vermilion is comprised of 89 percent red, 25.9 percent green, and 20.4 percent blue. You may also know this unique color as cinnabar.
The term "coquelicot" was originally a French word for the wild corn poppy known for their bright, red-orange tint. The English language adopted the word to describe the color of that poppy, which is composed of 100 percent red, 22 percent green, and no blue on the RGB color chart.
Composed of 89.4 percent red, 60.8 percent green, and a smidge of blue (5.9 percent) on the RGB color chart, gamboge—a gum resin produced by various trees—dates back to 17th century Europe by way of China, according to the Madras Journal of Literature and Science. A 2017 paper notes that the substance's mustard yellow color is derived from the bark of Garcinia trees specifically, and it was commonly used to dye Buddhist monks' robes.
On the RGB color chart, burlywood is a pretty balanced color, composed of 87.1 percent red, 72.2 percent green, and 52.9 percent blue. The light shade of brown, similar to that of khakis, is unsurprisingly named after a brown, sandy-colored wood.
Aureolin is a yellow color often used in painting. According to Michael Harding, an oil paint company, it's a "transparent, straw, ochre like yellow with strange, yet rich greenish undertones," similar to cobalt yellow. The color was actually produced in the 1850s to replace gamboge, which earned a bad reputation after the sap it's named for made people sick.
Everyone can agree that celadon is a beautiful color. In fact, according to The Awl, it was once a color reserved for special, expensive ceramics owned by royals. The pale green color is a combination of 67.5 percent red, 88.2 percent green, and 68.6 percent blue on the RGB color chart.
Glaucous is largely blue on the RGB color chart; it's 71.4 percent blue, 37.6 red, and 51 percent green. And seeing as this color looks like something you would find in a wintry mix, it's no surprise that the word "glaucuous" means "having a powdery or waxy coating that gives a frosted appearance," according to Merriam-Webster.
What you may be referring to as teal could actually be skobeloff. Skobeloff is a perfect combination of green and blue, composed of 45.5 percent green, 45.5 percent blue, and 0 percent red in the RGB color chart.
Similar to skobeloff, viridian is another blue-green pigment. However, on the RGB color chart, this hue actually has a bit of red in it; it's composed of 25.1 percent red, 51 percent green, and 42.7 percent blue.
If you know Latin, you'll realize that this color's name is derived from viridis, the Latin word for green. Or, if you're a fan of the 1988 film Beetlejuice, you might have heard of this color when Otho discusses remodeling the Deetz's home.
If you think this green-gray color looks like something you would see on a military uniform, you're not far off. During World War I, feldgrau became the official color of the military uniforms of the German Army. On the RGB color chart, it's an almost perfect mix of all three colors: 30.2 percent red, 36.5 percent green, and 32.5 percent blue.
Mountbatten pink may technically be classified as a pink, but it definitely looks like more of a purple. That's possibly because it's a strong combination of red (60 percent) and blue (55.3 percent) on the RGB color chart, with an addition of 47.8 percent green. According to the book Great Personalities of the World, this gray-mauve color was used by Lord Mountbatten of the British Royal Navy to paint ships during World War II. (You may also recognize it as the name of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's son, Archie Mountbatten-Windsor.)
This shade of violet is void of any green, composed of 87.5 percent red and 100 percent blue on the RGB color chart. The vibrant phlox is named for the flowers of the Phlox perennial plant, most commonly found in North America.