Color II  色の表現、その二

第179課: Colors II: Qualifying Color  色の修飾表現

In our last discussion on color, we learned about the wide variety of color words that Japanese has to offer and how similar and dissimilar they are to their English counterparts. Something that was only hinted at, though, was how color words can be modified with the addition of a prefix, suffix, another adjective, or an adverb. 

Much of the grammar in this lesson extends into topics that are used more broadly beyond the context of color, but for this lesson, only color-related contexts will be discussed. 

Adjectives for Depth/Brightness  色の濃淡・明度

When describing hues 色相 or shades (色味), it’s not always the case that a speaker chooses a specific color name like 若葉色 (~ lettuce green). Rather, it’s far more common to qualify a basic color word with an adjective that describes its depth or lack thereof. 

Click to edit table header“Thin/Light”  “Thick/Dark”
薄い“Thin” as in “faint/wishy-washy/faded/pale.” 濃い “Thick” as in “dark(er)” hues. It is the exact opposite of 薄い and 淡い. Therefore, colors described as such do stand out. 
淡い “Light” as in neither standing out nor being bright and lacking depth.  深い“Thick” as in “deep,” usually in a beautiful manner. 
 明るい If a color is “bright,” this is the word of choice to describe its lighting.  暗い “Dark” as in “not bright.” When used to refer to color, it usually refers to dark colors in general. 

※濃ゆい is a common variant of 濃い, which can be heard mostly in West Japan.

1. 地色は黒に近い濃い紫だ。
The fabric’s color is a dark purple close to being black. 

2. 薄い桜のようなピンク色の石を見つけた。
I found a stone that is a pale cherry blossom pink. 

3. 絵具で明るい緑を作ってみた。
I tried making a bright green with my paint colors. 

4. 吸血鬼の男の眼が、やはり血のように深い赤なのだった。
The eyes of the male vampire were, as one would imagine, a deep red like that of blood.

5. 暗い色に染めた髪の毛を明るい色に染め直すことは可能ですか?
Is it possible to re-dye one’s hair that has been dyed a dark color over to a bright color?

6. 見上げると、淡い水色をした空と真っ白い雲がどこまでも続く。

When you look up, a light aqua-blue sky and pure-white clouds extend endlessly.  

7. 洗っても濃ゆい色があまり取れていない。
I haven’t gotten the dark color out well even after washing it.

For a handle of expressions, 薄い can actually be seen as a prefix in the form of 薄- to express the same meaning of said color being “faint.” It is most frequently used with 暗い to form 薄暗い, which in turn means “to be gloomy.” It is most frequently used with the color 紫 (purple), 茶色 (brown), 赤 (red), and 黒 (black). 暗い and 黒い respectively become voiced as ぐらい and ぐろい. 

※The prefix 薄- can be used with other colors such as 青 (blue), 藍 (indigo), 紅 (crimson), 緑 (green), etc., but the prefix’s overall usage is  quite seldom.

8. 薄暗い天井から水滴が落下した。
Drops of water fell from the dim ceiling.

9. 熱が下がった頃から全身に薄赤い発疹が出ている。

There has been a light-red rash all over my body since the fever went down.

The prefix 浅₋ is found in a handful of words. 浅黒い means “slightly dark-brown” and is the most common example. This word is commonly used to describe people with a dark skin color. The word あさぎ has two separate Kanji spellings which confusingly refer to separate colors. 浅葱 specifically refers to a “slightly greenish, light blue.” 浅黄 whereas is typically interpreted as meaning “light yellow.” This is so confusing for some that artists often read the latter as うすき, utilizing the previous prefix instead. 

10. イギリスの南部に1万年前に生きた男性は浅黒い肌に青い目、高い頬骨を持っていたことがわかった。
It has been discovered that a man who lived 10,000 years ago in southern England possessed high cheekbones as well as dark skin and blue eyes.

11. 早苗の浅緑の葉が靡いている。
The light green leaves of the rice seedlings are fluttering. 

12. アサギマダラは翅の模様が鮮やかな大型の蝶である。
The chestnut tiger butterfly is a large butterfly with a vibrant wing pattern.

Word Note: The Japanese species name utilizes 浅葱. マダラ (斑) means “spot/speckle.” When 弱い (weak) and 強い (strong) are used with colors, they refer to brightness (明度・色の明るさ度合い). 

13. 赤外線で強く輝いている星だ。
That star is one that shines brightly from infrared rays.

14. 身は赤みが弱いピンク色だ。
The meat is pink with a weak red tint. 

The Prefix 真₋   接頭辞の「真(ま)」

When the prefix 真- is used with color words, it describes how that “pure” that said color is. In English, colors are often preceded with either “bright” or “pure” in the same context. This prefix attaches to the nominal form of adjectives and the resultant word is a 形容動詞 that can at times still be used like a noun. 

Intriguingly, three colors have emphatic “repeated forms.” These variant expressions are very colloquial with many speakers assuming that they are dialectal in nature.

English   真-   Repeated Form
 Bright Red   真っ赤【な】   真っ赤っ赤【な】
Bright Yellow   真っ黄色【の・な】    真っ黄っ黄(色)【の・な】
Bright Blue真っ青【な】
Pure White真っ白【な・の・い】
Pure Black   真っ黒【な・の・い】
Pure Brown   真っ茶色【の・な】 真っ茶っ茶【な・の】 △
Bright Green   真緑(色)【の】

※The preference between な and の is largely subjective. When both can be used, な tends to appear more than の in the spoken language. 

※真っ赤 is read as まっか and 真っ赤っ赤 is read as まっかっか. 
※真っ赤 also has the meaning of “downright/utter” with words that have negative connotations such as 嘘, etc.

※真っ黄 does exist as a word form, but it is far rarer than 真っ黄色. When it is used, it is usually used as a noun.
※真っ青 is read as まっさお. It is thought that the “s” is a remnant from more ancient Japanese. In addition to meaning “bright blue,” it is most frequently used with the meaning of “to be ghastly pale.”

※真っ白い and 真っ黒い are not as common as their 形容動詞 counterparts. 
※Not all speakers use 真っ茶色 or 真緑, but they are generally accepted by younger speakers.
※The use of 真っ茶っ茶 is dialectal but fairly common.
※真っ黄っ黄色 and 真っ茶っ茶色 are generally not used and deemed unnatural.

15. ブラックスーツは、名前の通り、真っ黒のスーツです。
“Black suits,” as the name suggests, are pure-black suits.

16. 真緑色の腐った死体が枝からぶら下がっていた。
A pure-green, rotten corpse was dangling from a branch.

17. 人狼は歯が真っ黄っ黄だ
Werewolves have extremely bright-yellow teeth.

18. きょうも真っ白な雪が降り続いている。
Pure-white snow continues to fall even today.

19. 真っ赤な絨毯が床に敷かれている。
A bright-red carpet is laid out on the floor.

20. 窓は真っ白なくらいに埃を被っている。
The window is so white from all the dust on it.

21. 店員たちの顔は全員真っ青だ
All the faces of the store’s employees were ghastly pale.

22. 髪の毛も真っ茶っ茶だ
(His/her) hair was also pure brown. 

23. リードをつけていない真っ白い犬が現れた。
A pure-white dog appeared without a leash on.

24. あれは真っ赤な噓。
That’s a downright lie.

The Prefix どす-   接頭辞の「どす」

The prefix どす- attaches to color words to describe how unsettling/murky they appear. Negative contexts, often involving death and darkness, are always accompanied with it. As for which colors it attaches to, only three colors are viable. These colors are 黒, 赤, and 青.  

In the case of 黒 (black) and 赤 (red), どす- emphasizes how murky and deep they appear. In practice, どす黒い is used so much that どす赤い doesn’t ring a bell to many natives. どす赤い is typically used in blood/murder contexts, in which case どす黒い is also viable, though, but there would be more plausible explanations as to why something would be that color. どす黒い is also used in figurative contexts based on 黒’s negative connotations. 

どす青い, on the other hand, is a rare phrase that is relegated to creative literary contexts. With that being the case, whether it actually refers to a blue or green hue as opposed to a grey hue will be up to context.  

※どす黒い is read as どすぐろい.

25. 死体からどす赤い血が流れていた。

Murky red blood flowed from the dead body.

26.  どす黒い血が、線路にぽたぽたと垂れていました。
Blackish blood dripped down onto the tracks.

27. どんなどす黒い女にもなってみせる。
I’ll show (everyone) just how dark of a woman I can become.

28. どす黒い線が空を切り裂いている。
A blackish line cut the sky. 

29. そういう娘の顔は、さしかける古い森林の深いどす青い陰を弾ね返すほど生気に充みちていた。
The girl’s face, having said that, was so full of life that it felt as if it might repel the deep, murky, verdant shadows of the old forest over them. 
From 川明り by 岡本かの子.

Duplicating Adjectives to Make Adverbs 形容詞由来の副詞の反復表現

The four basic color words of Japanese are capable of being doubled to produce adverbs which describe states which give off said color. These adverbial forms are almost always followed by the particle と. 

Color Word Duplicated Adverb Form Adverb’s Meaning
 青々と Verdant/lush
 赤々と  Bright red 
 黒々と  In deep black
 白々と  1. Growing light (at dawn)2. In pure white3. Acting innocent.4. Being a turn-off

※明々と is an alternative spelling of 赤々と, but when opting for this spelling, the meaning of “bright” is implied over “bright red.”
※黒々 is read as くろぐろ.

※白々 is read as しらじら.

Meaning-wise, only 白々 has developed figurative meanings, all of which are rather ironic.

30. 夕日が赤々とさしている。
The evening sun shines bright red.

31. 夜の海は泥のように黒々としている
The sea at night is a deep black resembling mud.

Grammar Note: When trying to use these adverbial forms with a standard predicate, the verb する is used.

32. 夜が白々と明けてきた。
The night has begun to give way to the pure white of dawn.

33. 白々と言い訳をする。
To make an excuse acting all innocent.

34. 様々な植物が青々と茂っている。
Various plants are thick and lush.

Word Note: 青々と is “green” here as it is in reference to plant life, but it may also still refer to a “pure blue” color when in reference to the sky. 

These duplicated adverb forms may then be followed by した to create emphatic adjectival forms. For instance, 黒々とした as opposed to 真っ黒 is used in more emotionally motivated contexts. Imagine the seas appearing black in the midst of a storm. One might describe the waves as being “angry,” but in Japanese,  黒々と【した・している】 might be used. Note that the choice between using した and している is based on where the phrase is in a sentence, the former being used before nouns and the latter being used as a predicate.

35. 真冬のこの時期に、赤々としているものは少ない。
Few things are vibrantly red during this season of mid-winter.

36. 雲の間から青々とした空が見えだした。
A vibrant, blue sky appeared from between the clouds.

37. 視線の先に黒々とした海が広がっている。
(His) line of sight is on the dark sea expanding outward. 

38.  見終わって白々とした気分になった。
I was turned off after watching it.

Interestingly, the adjective 白々しい also exists. Its meanings are almost identical to 白々としている, although its meaning of “to be clearly white” is outdated as opposed to its typical meanings of “to be a turn-off” or “to be barefaced/transparent/obvious/shallow” and “to feign ignorance.” 

39. 女性は元カレに対して、白々しく初対面のふりをして自己紹介した。
The woman feigned as if it were their first encounter in a self-introduction towards her ex-boyfriend.

40. 本当のことを知っているのに白々しく噓八百を並べ立てている。
Even though (the person) knows the truth, (they)’re just telling a pack of lies.

41. 気の合わない同僚と組んで仕事をすると、白々しい空気が流れてしまうだろう。
When you work together with a colleague that you don’t get along with, the atmosphere will end up off-putting.

Combining Colors  色の混合(混色)

In our first lesson about colors, we learned about how certain mixed colors were a part of the traditional chromatic color spectrum in Japanese. These colors include 黄赤 (yellow-red), 黄緑 (yellow-green), 青緑 (blue-green), 青紫 (bluish purple), 赤紫 (reddish purple). These were just basic examples, though, as many other such color words can be found in Japanese. Some can be as simple as 赤茶色 (reddish brown) whereas others come from more complicated Sino-Japanese morphemes like 灰白色 (greyish white). 

It’s not really important to memorize every sort of color combination as it is to know how they are generally formed and used. The chart below shows a decent amount of the most signature examples aside from the ones we have already seen.

 紺青(こんじょう)  Dark purplish blue 紫紺(しこん)Bluish purple 
 白緑(びゃくろく)  Very faint green 白茶(しらちゃ) Light brown
 灰茶(はいちゃ)  Greyish brown 灰緑色(はいみどり)  Greyish green
 黄褐色(おうかっしょく)  Yellowish brown 赤橙(あかだいだい)  Reddish orange
 茶褐色(ちゃかっしょく)  Dark reddish brown黒茶(くろちゃ) Deep brown
 紅褐色(こうかっしょく)  Dark brownish red黄茶(きちゃ) Strong yellow-red
 白青(しらあお) Whitish blue 青藍(せいらん) Indigo blue

42. 赤茶色に塗られたトタン屋根が見えた。
I could see a tin roof painted in a reddish-brown color.

43. 水底に茶褐色の沈澱物が見られた。
Dark reddish-brown sediment was seen at the river bottom.

44. 建物の隅に赤橙色の柘榴の花が見えた。

I could see a reddish-orange pomegranate flower at the corner of the building.

The Suffixes ~さ & ~み     接尾辞の「さ」及び「み」

The suffix ~さ is used to nominalize any adjective or adjectival noun whereas ~み only nominalizes a handful of adjectives. Whenever a word can take either ~さ and ~み, which all four basic color words can, ~さ creates an objective description whereas ~み creates a subjective description. 

Base Adjective Objective “-ness” Subjective “-ness”
黒い 黒さ =  “blackness” 黒み = “having a tinge of black””dark feeling/place”
 白い 白さ = “whiteness” 白み = “having a tinge of white”
 赤い 赤さ = “redness” 赤み = “having a tinge of red””red spot/area”
 青い 青さ = “blueness” 青み = “having a tinge of blue”

※The word 黄み (yellow tinge) also exists, but it is a rather exceptional word which is complimented by the more common dichotomy 黄色さ and 黄色み respectively. 

Essentially, forms ending in ~さ are synonymous with ~いこと. In context, these words may be translated as “how…” as they are often used in conversations regarding degree of color. 

The ~み forms are said to be “subjective” because the comment on color is emotionally inspired. There’s something “white” about it. This is why these forms are translated as “having a tinge…” aside from any possible figurative meaning. These forms are often used with the verb 帯びる, creating the pattern ~みを帯びる (to be tinged with…). Conversely, ~さ forms are often used with ~を持つ (to possess).

Orthography Note: The suffix ~み is often written with the Ateji 味. Ex. 白み → 白味.

Word Note: The suffix ~み mustn’t be confused with the noun 身. Meaning, 赤身 (red meat), 白身 (egg white/white meat), and 黄身 (yolk) just happen to be homophonous to 赤み, 白み, and 黄み respectively. 

Word Note: 青み may also mean “vegetable garnish,” but this does derive from the meaning of “tinge of green.”

45. ウサギの腹の毛のように白みを帯びている。
It has a white tinge like the belly fur of a rabbit.

46. 空のような青さを持つ石です。
The stone has a blue-color like that of the sky.

47. ニホンザルのお尻と顔は同じくらいの赤さだ。
The butt and face of a Japanese macaque are just as red.

48. 頬が段々赤味を増してくる。

(His/her) cheeks gradually got redder. 

49. 皮膚に赤みがあちこちに出はじめた。
Red spots began to form in various spots on the skin.

50. 品種の特性上、花弁が黒みを帯びているものがある。
As a species trait, some have a black tinge on their petals.

51. 塩素系漂白剤で服の白さを取り戻そう!
Bring back the whiteness to clothes with chlorine bleach!

The Suffix ~がかる    接尾辞の「がかる」

The suffix ~がかる attaches to nouns to describe how something is starting to resemble a certain state, and when used with color words, it describes something that has taken on that tone. ~がかる can be used with most basic color words, but the suffix ~み must precede it for the four basic color words but is optional with yellow.

~がかる is mostly used with the colors shown in the chart below, but it is possible to see it used with any color in theory given how it translates as “has….-ish tone.” 

English Predicate Form Attribute Form
“Has/witha blackish tone”黒味がかっている 黒味がかった
“Has/with a reddish tone”赤味がかっている 赤味がかった
“Has/with a bluish tone”青味がかっている 青味がかった
“Has/with a whitish tone”白味がかっている 白味がかった
 “Has/with a purplish tone” 紫がかっている 紫がかった
“Has/with a greyish tone” 灰色がかっている 灰色がかった
“Has/with a brownish tone” 茶色がかっている 茶色がかった
“Has/with a greenish tone” 緑(色)がかっている 緑(色)がかった
 “Has/with a yellowish tone” 黄色(味)がかっている 黄色(味)がかった

These forms are following out of use primarily due to how much simpler and more versatile other options of expressing the same thing are like the suffix ~っぽい (which is to be touched on next). Interestingly enough, this grammar is most often used with color words to modify other colors. 

52. 焦茶とは、物が焼け焦げたような黒みがかった茶色のことだ。
“Olive brown (lit. “burnt brown in Jap.) is a brown color with a blackish tone like when something is burnt.

53. 乾燥している間は表面は白みがかっている
While it is dry, the surface has a whitish tone.

54. 一口に赤と言っても、黄みがかっているのか青みがかっているのかでは全然違ってくる。

Even if you were to call it “red” in a nutshell, it’ll be completely different depending on if it has a yellowish tone or a bluish tone.  

55. 灰桜とは、やや灰色がかった明るい桜色のことです。
“Ash cherry blossom” is a bright yet slightly greyish cherry blossom color.

56. 紫がかった灰色をした色合いとなっています。
It has a purplish grey hue. 

57. 日本人は黄色人種、肌の色が黄色みがかった白だ。
As for the Japanese, a “yellow race,” (their/our) skin color is a yellowish white.

The Suffix ~っぽい   接尾辞の「っぽい」

The suffix っぽい is a rather colloquial ending that is capable of attaching to any noun one might feel inclined to attach “-ish” in English, with color phrases being no exception to this.

~っぽい -ish
黒っぽい Blackish
 白っぽい Whitish
 赤っぽい Reddish
 青っぽい Bluish
 ピンク(色)っぽい Pinkish
 緑(色)っぽい Greenish

In addition to being used just as is, the pattern ~っぽく見える (to look…-ish) is very common.

58 月が赤っぽく見えるのは、大気の影響による現象で、朝日や夕日が赤く見えるのと同じ現象だ。
The sun appearing reddish is a phenomenon due to the atmosphere and it is the same phenomenon in which the morning/evening sun appears red. 

59. じゃが芋を剝いたらオレンジ色っぽいです。
When I peal the potatoes, they’re orange. 

60. 玄米の中に混じっている緑色っぽいお米は「生き青」と言います。
The greenish rice mixed in with unpolished rice is called “live green-kernel rice.”

61. ロタウイルスの特徴的な症状は、以下の通りである。
The rotavirus’ signature symptoms are as follows:
・Severe vomiting, diarrhea. 
・Whitish loose stool (white watery stool). 

62. 砂糖が一部変色して茶色っぽくなった。
Some of the sugar got discolored and became brownish.

63. その黒っぽいドレスは由里さんの浅黒い肌には合わない。
The blackish dress doesn’t match well with Yuri’s dark skin complexion.

One word that you should be cautious of is that the word 色っぽい does not  refer to color. Instead, this phrase utilizes the more erotic meaning of 色 briefly mentioned in our first lesson on color. In fact, 色っぽい is often translated as “sexy/erotic/amorous.” 

64. 色っぽい匂いをぷんぷんさせているお前も悪いぞ!
You’re the one who’s at fault for purposely smelling so sexy!


The suffix ~がち is used to indicate a heavy inclination and may attach to color nouns ending in ~み to show a strong propensity towards said color. The resultant phrase is treated as a 形容動詞 whose attributive form (連体形) can technically manifest as either な or の, but in reality due to the datedness of the grammar, の tends to be used most. This grammar point, in general, is rather limited to the written language.

Orthography Note: Although the Ateji for ~がち is ~勝ち, it is rarely seen in practice.

65. 「美しい人でした。睫の長い黒みがちの瞳の・・・」
“(She) was a beautiful person. (Her) eyebrows were long and (her) eyes were on the blackish side…”
From つゆ草幻想 by 森本房子.

66. 洋紅色は、青味がちで赤紫の強い桃色のような色合いをしており、日本の伝統的な色とは合わせにくい色とされていた。
“Carmine” is a strong purplish-red pink-like hue with a tinge of blue and was treated as a color which was difficult to mix with traditional Japanese colors 

The Suffix ~め     接尾辞の「め」

The suffix ~め is a rather limited ending that nominalizes only a few handful of adjectives. Its relation to color specifically is not strong, but it is used with the following words. These forms are typically used as no-adjectival nouns (ノ形容動詞). The purpose of the suffix ~め is to mark a condition or degree as being somewhat so.

 ~め Meaning
黒めAppearing black
 白めAppearing white
 赤め Appearing red
 薄め On the thin/light side
 濃いめ Strongish/deepish
 暗め Appearing dark

※濃いめ is exceptional because it ought to be 濃め, but this word form is not attested in actual speech. This is believed to be because 濃い does not get reduced in compounds. For instance, 辛口 (辛い+口) for “spicy (food)/dry (alcohol)” and 甘口(甘い+口) for “sweet flavor” exhibit typical compound formation, but 濃い口 for “rich taste” does not. Although 濃いめ is not so much a compound as it is an adjective being modified by a suffix, this tendency for 濃い to not become reduced appears to apply across the board. 

※The words 黒め, 白め, and 赤め mustn’t be confused with the homophonous words 黒目 (pupil and dark iris of the eye/dark brown eyes), 白目 (white of the eye), 赤目 (red eyes),  respectively. 

Orthography Note: The Ateji of ~め is 目, so for 黒目 and 白目, context will decide which meaning is meant, but these spellings are not as common as they were in Early Modern Japanese. However, 薄目 and 濃い目 happen to be quite common spellings for 薄め and 濃いめ respectively. 

Translating Note: At times, it is more natural in English to translate individual instances of ~め no differently than “-ish” or as the base word but in a vague sense. 

67. 白めのお湯は肌荒れに効果がある。
The whitish hot water helps with rough skin.

68. 黒めのスーツでも大丈夫らしいです。
A black-looking suit seems to be fine. 

69. 色素薄めのカラコン
Pigment-light color contacts

70. 日本人は唇の色が濃いめの人が多い。
There are a lots of Japanese whose lips are of a deeper color. 

71. アジア系の人は遺伝子レベルで色素数が多く、その分粘膜の色も暗めになりやすいと言われている。
Asian peoples have a higher pigment count at the genetic level and it is said that their membranes, accordingly, can more easily become a darker color. 

72. きょうは赤めの服を着て出かけた。
I went out today in red.

73. なぜ黒めの車を擦ると白が見え、白めの車を擦ると黒が見えるの?
Why is that when you scratch a black car, you see white, and when you scratch a white car, you see black?

The Suffix ~ずむ・ばむ    接尾辞の「ずむ・ばむ」

The four basic color words–赤, 青, 黒, and 白–are notoriously used with the greatest number of affixes most likely due to having existed for the longest amount of time. Time and its role in the rise and fall of word forms is a major factor when discussing the relationship these four colors have with the suffix ~ずむ・ばむ. The reason for why ~ずむ and ~ばむ are being described as one of the same suffix is that the former is a much later alteration of the latter. In the context of color ~ずむ and ~ばむ can be paraphrased as ~みを帯びる. 


The form ~ばむ has existed in Japanese for centuries and can be more accurately defined as “to bear a certain quality somewhat.” This makes these forms quite similar to ~がかる as this affix implies that the color resemblance is taking form. Indeed, instances such as 黄ばむ can be paraphrased with it. 

The most common examples of ~ばむ in spoken Japanese today are 汗ばむ (to be sweaty) and 黄ばむ (to become tinged with yellow). However, 黒ばむ (to blacken),  白ばむ (to whiten), 青ばむ (to become bluish/greenish/pale), and 赤ばむ (to become reddish) are all still listed in dictionaries and examples from literary sources as recent as the early 1900s can be found. 

赤ばむ may not ring a bell at all to a native speaker today, but its alteration 赤らむ will. This form is actually incredibly common as it is used to refer to when someone’s face gets red. 

74. 永久歯は少し黄ばんでいる
My permanent teeth are getting a little yellow.

75. お風呂の水垢なのか何なのかわからない黒ばんだのはスポンジでくるくる粘り強く1分くらい擦っていると落ちるという。
As for the blackened areas in the tub that you don’t even know is limescale or not, they say that if you scrub it really persistently for about a minute with a sponge that it’ll come off. 

76. 鏡の中の顔は生気なく青ばんでいる
(Her) face is the mirror lacked vitality and appeared pale. 
From 遥かなる旅へ by 谷川修.


~ずむ first appeared in the Meiji Period where it could be seen with the other three of the four basic colors (白ずむ・青ずむ・赤ずむ). In fact, aside from 赤ずむ, all of the other three are still listed in dictionaries. In practical use, however, only 黒ずむ survives in modern use. 

77. 喫煙で黒ずんだ歯茎も綺麗になったし、口臭もなくなった。
My blackened gums from smoking also became cleaner and my bad breath also went away.

Miscellaneous   色の表現、その他

To conclude this lesson, it would be remiss of us not to discuss what didn’t quite fit in any particular discussion but are still noteworthy in an overall discussion regarding color expressions.


This verb means “to change color” and is mostly in reference to when fruit, flowers, leaves, etc. change color.

Orthography Note: This word may alternatively be spelled as 色付く. 

78. 楓が色づき始めた。
The maple tree has begun to change color.