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Beside some of the historical examples mentioned by Derek, there is also an inherent nuance that separates 青 from 'blue', as it is commonly understood in Western culture (and similarly, albeit less strongly, for 緑 and 'green'). This is not unique to Japanese-English and probably applicable to any pairs of sufficiently separate cultures: colours are, for a ...


There was a word, 木色【きいろ】 "the colour of trees", recorded in the Vocabulário da Língua do Japão. But actually, 黄【き】 on its own already means "yellow". 木 and 黄 are most likely not etymologically related. We know that 木 had a type-2 (乙類) /ki/ in Old Japanese. If we knew that 黄 had a type-1 (甲類) /ki/, then we could definitively say that the two are ...


This page in the 日本語Q&A over at ALC addresses this question. Apparently the historical definition of 青【あお】, even when defined narrowly, covered an entire range of colors which are today separated as 青【あお】, 緑【みどり】, and 藍【あい】 (indigo). This trend carried into the modern language, and many words which refer to things that are actually 緑【みどり】 still use ...


Ah, I found something on this particular example... 支那の色名である「橙色(とうしょく)」が日本語になったと考えられている。[...]橙色は、英語のオレンジに対応する日本語の色名として用いられたが、橙色も元々は借入語であり、英語より橙色の方が借り入れたのが早かったに過ぎない。なお、「橙」の漢字が教育用漢字に採用されなかったために、赤と黄との中間色相は日本でもオレンジ色と呼ばれることが多くなった。 source: http://www.7key.jp/data/design/color/orange/daidaiiro.html Not sure from what source this information is in turn, ...


This partially also has to do with the fact that in old Japanese they only used four colours: あか・あお・しろ・くろ. Obviously, with this limitation, あお came to represent a wide range of different cool shades. Then once more "colours started to be used", a lot of things retained their original descriptions as あお. Edit: Here is that handout I have from my Japanese ...


I do not know that much about Japanese kanji, but in Chinese 赤 has the second meaning of "bare, exposed". 赤貧 thus probably means "with totally nothing".


真っ赤 doesn't mean deep red, it's an emphatic expression of being red. It comes form suffix ma and reduplicated adjectives. ma aka aka --> makkakka --> makka (まっかっか is still a word) ma kuro kuro --> makkuro Edit: Sorry, my answer was irrelevant to OP's question.

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