Does brunette just apply to dark-brown or black hair or any shade of brown
(esp. dark-brown) as well as black hair?

Take that ever how you will.

Typically, “brunette” means any (naturally-occurring) hair shade that isn’t “blonde” or “redhead” (or gray or white, for that matter). The dividing lines between those categories, however, are a, um, gray area.

Okay, I know that brunette definitely applies to dark brown or black hair,
especially dark brown hair. I’m not sure if a light or lighter shade of brown
hair is brunette. I’m pretty sure that a medium shade of brown hair is
brunette because it’s a relatively dark shade of brown hair. Brunette
is associated with dark or relatively dark hair. The only way light brown
hair can be considered dark or relatively dark is if it is compared to a
blond’s hair. I think a really light shade of brown might actually
be considered blond like a light auburn or pale yellowish brown which is
considered blond. Some dictionaries say brown/black or dark/brown hair,
which seems to imply that brunette refers to any shade of brown as well
as black hair.

In the usage to which I am accustomed, a person may have hair of the following colors, and be referred to by the following terms:

White/Grey/Black: These are just white-haired, grey-haired, black-haired. The same applies to “unnatural” dye colors such as blue and green.
Various shades of yellow: Blond/Blonde.
Various shades of red and orange: Red-headed.
Dark reddish brown, like cherry wood: Auburn.
Brown of any shade, from tawny to nearly-black: Brunette.

The root of “brunette” means “brown,” not “dark,” so any shade of brown is brunette. “Light brown” isn’t “blonde,” blonde is blonde and light brown is brown. Additionally, to me the association of “brunette” ONLY includes brown, and black hair is its own non-brunette hair color.

Yes, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, the root of the word brunette is “brown”. But “brunette” means “a girl or woman of a dark complexion or with brown hair”, and “brunet” means “dark-complexioned”. So to answer the original question posed by Cute_loopygirl, no “brunette” applies to a girl or a women with brown hair or with a dark complexion which is usually accompanied by brown eyes and brown or black hair.

Light complexioned - blonde or redhead
Dark complexioned - brunette

However, those catagories become gray when one adds in the international phenomenon of the bottle blonde. It’s interesting that many people forget that brunette is associated with dark skin and brown eyes.

This thread reminds me of “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House” where Mrs. B has to describe her paint to the contractor: “…Not as dark as sky blue, but more than the blue of a robin’s egg…”

Using words to accurately and completely describe colours (whether hair or paint) is a task pretty well doomed to failure. Unless you can find a definitive point where “dark blonde” ends and “light brown” begins, you’ll be better off with paint chips or Pantone colour swatches.

I already know that brunette literally means brown, but brunet(te) is associated with dark or relatively dark hair. A brunet(te) usually has dark eyes and a relatively dark or olive complexion. Brunette refers to a female and brunet traditionally refers to a male, but brunet can refer to either sex. I’ve read
that both spellings usually refer to a female because a male is usually referred to as dark-haired.Hair color is really what defines whether a person is a brunet. I think at one time a girl or woman was considered a brunette only upon having a dark complexion. If a person dosen’t have brunet hair, but has dark eyes etc… That person could be said to have brunet eyes etc, but it wouldn’t really be accurate to call them a brunet(te) if he/she dosen’t have brunet hair. A lot of dictionaries only acknowledge dark brown or dark brown and black hair as brunet(te). Brunette defined as having brown or black hair would be more associated with brown hair than black hair.