How much are colors used as surnames in other languages? (Green, White, etc.)

(Info on any language is welcome – extra credit given for scoop on "color"ful surnames in non-European languages)

In English, there are some fairly common ones: Green, White, Gray, Brown, and to a lesser extent, Black.

Is it unusual that Blue is much less frequent than the names listed above? “Red” seems almost unheard of, except in alternate forms like “Rudd”.

French adds a definite article: LeVert, LeBlanc, and I think I’ve heard of LeJaune. French seems similar to English in eschewing Blue and Red – never heard of a LeBleu, a LeGris or a LeRouge. Yet there’s few, if any, LeNoires (or are there?). Maybe Bruneau is from an older version of Brown (cf. modern maron)?

Spanish and Italian names often add a preposition, as in Del Negro, Del Reggio (?). Not always, though, as in Blanco. Again no sign of Blue (that I’m aware of) in these language’s surnames.

German: Schwarz, Weiss and Braun are the first few that come to mind. Is Blau used? Does “Roth” = old version of rot?

So, what’s the Dope in your language? What color surnames are common? Which are rare?


Red/Röd…12 people in Sweden
Green/Grön…279 (2,248 people actually called Green)
Blue/Blå…12 (25 people actually called Black)
Grey/Grå…7 (85 Grays, 15 Greys)
Pink/Rosa…13 (no pinks thank god, means pee in Swedish)
Brown/Brun…414 (329 Browns, 33 Brownes)

For the record and while I am at it there are also 8 Wanks, 11 Wankers, 8 Tossers, 24 Farts and 34 Pricks.

For the record, to show I am not all evil, there are 29 Gods and 353 people named Snygg (the Swedish word for good-looking).

Oooh, there was an OP, that’s right…

There are 8.9 million people in Sweden.
In other words, colour names aren’t common here.
However, most names that are not “son of” names are combination names. So say Grönberg (green mountain) etc would be much more common.

Many Ashkenazi/European Jews have color names. “Blau,” for example. These names may have be translated or left alone upon emigration. In my family, we’ve got “Rudd,” “Schwartz,” and “Gruner,” which may be a color name.

In Japanese, you will see a colour combined with another word to create a surname. For example, my grandparents-in-law have the surname Aoyama. Ao means blue, and Yama means mountain. I have yet to meet a person who has just a colour on its own as a surname.

Its not terribly common, but happens often enough. The most common colours used are blue (ao), red (aka), gold (kin/kane), black (kuro) and white (shiro).

Hindi - “Lal” = “red” - also used in combination
“Nil” = “blue” - usually in combination; I’ve never seen it as a name on its own

Hindi - “Lal” = “red” - also used in combination
“Nil” = “blue” - usually in combination; I’ve never seen it as a name on its own

In chinese, huang = yellow, which is pretty common (one may say ironic, but people rarely litereally translate Chinese surnames). There’s also bai = white, and lan = blue. I’ve never known anyone with those surnames, though (or at least couldn’t verify them). Also, not a color in the technical sense, but there’s also hua = flower (as in Hua Mulan). I think most of the colors, I’ve ranked in descending popularity. Huang is the big one, though.

One of the political party leaders in Yemen is named ‘Abd Allah al-Ahmar. In Arabic, Ahmar means RED.

I would be interested (as the OP said) why Mr. Blue and Mr. Red are almost non-existent in English. It seems the “Colourful Names” are of two types: plentiful, or not!

Looking through my city’s phone book (population of almost a million) we find:

Mr. Blue: 16
Mr. Red: 0
Mr. Yellow: 0
Mr. Purple: 0

Mr. Green/Greene: ~400
Mr. Brown: ~1100
Mr. White/Whyte: ~600
Mr. Gray/Grey: ~300
Mr. Black: ~200

Harumph! The OP forgot about yellow. IIRC, Gelb = yellow in German. Gelb and its variations are common names. (My last name is a variation.) Puubs mentioned the ubiquitous Huangs. But “Yellow” itelf is not used as a last name in English.

This is a borderline case, but Sakura is also used as a last name in Japanese. Usually, it means “Cherry Blossom”, but it’s sometimes used to refer to any light pink color, the same way rose and violet are used in English.

If we look at first names, Midori, or ‘green’ is a common female first name.

In Dutch, I’ve found after a very brief search:

  • de Wit (white)
  • Blauw (blue)
  • van Geel (yellow)

Add Pink and Orange (unless you want to count the phone book entries for Julius Orange[1]) to the missing names of color.

For Blue, note the former major league pitcher Vida Blue.
[1] For those unfamiliar with it, there’s a chain of mall food places known as Orange Julius. In the phone book for my town, there’s a couple entries for them that look like they might be for someone named Julius Orange.

Out of the 5 million people in Denmark, there are:

Red/Rød : 47
Green/Grøn : 1009
Blue/Blå : less than 3
Black/Sort : 87
Purple/Lila : less than 3
Yellow/Gul : 20
Gray/Grå : less than 3
Pink/Rosa : 54
Brown/Brun : 550

There are 131398 with the same lastname as me (Larsen) and 565 with the exact same name as me (not counting middle names)

In French, as Bordelond said, there are:

  • Leblanc or Blanc(white)
  • Legris (gray and yes yes, it does exist)
  • Levert (green)
  • Lejaune (yellow)

And the ones I know:

  • Lebrun or Brun (brown)
  • Laviolette (violet - also the name of a flower)
  • Larose or Rose (pink - also name of flower)
  • Lenoir (black)
  • Lerouge (red - yes this also exists)
  • Lebleu (blue - yup also a name)
  • Lemauve (purple - not so common as the others, though)
  • Marron (maron)

Zwart or Swart (black), Groen (Green), de Bruin (brown) and de Grijze (grey) are relatively common in Dutch as well. Also Oranje (orange) and Rood (red) are used - I know people with that name - and not just the queen :).

You beat me Iteki. I was going to post just the same thing.

As a comparison the three most common names in Sweden Johansson, Andersson and Karlsson each have about 250 000 wearers. So just a colour as a name is very rare.

The source for Swedish name statistics is Statistics Sweden, for those interested in searching for swedish names.

Whoa, there … I know someone whose family name is “Pink.”

Thanks for the input, all! More is certainly welcome.

I’m surprised by Scandinavia’s apparent paucity of color surnames.