Discover the power, the nature, and the language of red. Find out what this hot color symbolizes and what colors work well with various reds.
Shades of Red: These words are synonymous with or represent various shades of the color red.
blood red, blush, brick, burgundy, carmine, China red (see vermilion), cinnabar (see vermilion), crimson, fire engine red, flame (see scarlet), Indian red, madder, maroon, rose, rouge, ruby, russet (a reddish brown), rust (a reddish brown), scarlet, tomato, Venetian red, vermilion.
Connection With Nature, Culture, and Symbolism:
A stimulant, red is the hottest of the warm colors. Studies show that red can have a physical effect, increasing the rate of respiration and raising blood pressure.
The expression seeing red indicates anger and may stem not only from the stimulus of the color but from the natural flush (redness) of the cheeks, a physical reaction to anger, increased blood pressure, or physical exertion.
It represents power, hence the red power tie for business people and the red carpet for celebrities and VIPs (very important people).
Flashing red lights denote danger or emergency. Stop signs and stop lights are red to get the drivers' attention and alert them to the dangers of the intersection.
In some cultures, red denotes purity, joy, and celebration. Red is the color of happiness and prosperity in China and may be used to attract good luck.
It is often the color worn by brides in the East while it is the color of mourning in South Africa. In Russia the Bolsheviks used a red flag when they overthrew the Tsar, thus red became associated with communism. Many national flags use red. The red Ruby is the traditional Fortieth Wedding Anniversary gift.
Using Different Shades:
- Use the color red to grab attention and to get people to take action.
- Use red when you don't want to sink into the background.
- Use red to suggest speed combined with confidence and perhaps even a dash of danger.
- A little bit of red goes a long way. Small doses can often be more effective than large amounts of this strong color.
- Multiple shades of red and even pink or orange can combine for a cheerful palette.
Using With Other Colors:
- Although not normally considered an ideal coupling, in combination with green, red is a Christmas color — a joyful season.
- Cool blues provide contrast and tone down the heat of red.
- Light pinks and yellows are harmonizing colors that can work well with red if not too close in value such as dark red with a pale or golden yellow.
- Be careful using purple. It can be an elegant combination but too much could be overpowering.
- Add a dash of red to a soft but sophisticated pink and gray combo.
- For some countries, including the US, red, white, and blue is a very patriotic trio even if the shades of red and blue differ from those used in the flag.
Explore these color swatches to find which of the colors in the red family are the most attention-grabbing, mysterious, friendly, sophisticated, or mentally stimulating.
In Other Design Fields:
- Red letter day - important or significant occasion
- Red carpet treatment - make someone feel special, treat them as if they are a celebrity
- Roll out the red carpet - same as above
- Red sky in the morning, sailor's warning; red sky at night, sailor's delight - pay attention to good and bad warning signs
- Paint the town red - celebrate, go out partying
- Red eye - an overnight flight
- Seeing red - to be angry
- Red herring - something that deceives or distracts attention from the truth
- In the red - being overdrawn at the bank or losing money
- Red flag - denotes danger, warning, or an impending battle
Is Red Your Favorite Color?
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- Yes, I'm passionate about the color red
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More Color Meanings