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On Weblio, the same dictionary says 紅{くれない} means "crimson" (deep red) and 紅{べに} means "vermilion" (bright red). Another dictionary says 紅{くれない}, 紅{べに}, 紅{こう} are all nouns, but I thought こう couldn't be used alone.

If 紅 is just one colour, then the difference between that and 紅色 is the same between 白 and 白色.

Is 紅色 more commonly read as こうしょく, くれないいろ or べにいろ? Does こういろ exist? I know 訓{くん}読{よ}み is preferred when speaking normally, but こうしょく seems the main pronunciation.

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    FWIW, the few times I used くれない to refer to a crimson-coloured object, it was not understood. I was at a sento, or temple, or something. We couldn't enter with our backpacks, etc., so we had to leave them at the front entrance. At the end, I asked them to "get the crimson bag for me" (その[紅]{くれない}かばんを取ってください), and the guy had no idea which one I meant. I think he thought I was a very beginner in Japanese, and somehow I was mixing together 「くれない?」 (from くれる) and ください, and just asking "Please give me that bag". Finally, I just told him 赤いかばん...
    – istrasci
    Commented Nov 20, 2023 at 17:41

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From Wikipedia article.

As a color, usually it is べにいろ. くれない can be used by itself. こうしょく is not common though 大辞泉 mentions it.

紅色(べにいろ、くれないいろ)は、鮮やかな赤色。名は、キク科の紅花の汁で染めた濃い赤による。JIS慣用色名では「あざやかな赤」(略号 vv-R)と定義している1

こうしょく is purple in bacteriology.

細菌学では、英語のpurpleの訳語として紅色(こうしょく)を用いる。

Regarding the actual color, as mentioned above, JIS defines it as vivid red, but people do not really mean a fixed color when they use 紅, just like 赤 or red is not a single color. As such, it does not make much sense to ask the difference of くれない(いろ) or べにいろ.

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  • Can't べに and こう be used alone to mean the colour too? Two dictionaries I've seen say so. Is こういろ fine too then? Commented Nov 21, 2023 at 11:16
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    @Haragurodanshi べに is barely possible, but こう is not. こういろ is not possible. I guess those dictionaries meant that べに or こう could mean the color, not that they are used by themselves. べに is more often used to mean lipsticks. Use of べに or くれない is more common in some literary contexts (incl. manga or anime). This is simply because it sounds kind of cooler than just saying あか.
    – sundowner
    Commented Nov 21, 2023 at 14:52

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