When you are learning any language, colours are among the first words you get to know. If you want to know how to say different colours in Russian and practice the use of this vocabulary, then this article is for you. Experienced learners will find some Russian idioms that have to do with colours at the end of the article.




Here you have a list of colours that appear in the rainbow:


  • красный (red)
  • оранжевый (orange)
  • жёлтый (yellow)
  • зелёный (green)
  • голубой (blue)
  • синий (blue/indigo)
  • фиолетовый (violet)


Here are other frequently used colours:


  • чёрный (black)
  • белый (white)
  • серый (grey)
  • коричневый (brown)
  • розовый (pink)
  • салатовый (light green)


To denote the tone of the colour, use the prefix светло- or тёмно-:


  • светло-красный (light red)
  • тёмно-красный (dark red)


Let’s use the colours with nouns that are stereotypically associated with them:


  • красный мак (red poppies)
  • оранжевый апельсин (orange orange)
  • жёлтое солнце (yellow sun)
  • зелёная трава (green grass)
  • голубое небо (blue sky)
  • синее море (blue/indigo sea)
  • фиолетовый цветок (violet flower)
  • чёрная ночь (black night)
  • белый снег (white snow)
  • серый волк (grey wolf)
  • коричневый медведь (brown bear)
  • розовая роза (pink rose)
  • салатовое яблоко (light green apple)


Have you noticed the changes in the endings? Colours are adjectives, so they have to agree in gender, number and case with the nouns that they describe.


This table will hopefully help you use adjectives and nouns properly:






  • Exception: синий

- ая

  • Exception: синяя

- ое

  • Exception: синее


Here are some examples:


  • жёлтый цвет (yellow colour)
  • жёлтая рубашка (yellow shirt)
  • жёлтое солнце (yellow sun)


  • зелёный крокодил (green crocodile)
  • зелёная тетрадь (green notebook)
  • зелёное пальто (green coat)


  • синий шарф (blue scarf)
  • синяя шапка (blue hat)
  • синее растение (blue plant)





These resources will help you memorise colours in Russian:


  • 85 cartoons where the colour is named while the images are being coloured in. Although these are intended for children, they will also be useful for adult learners of Russian as a foreign language.
  • A song about colours in Russian (also for children).
  • These videos are for adult learners of Russian as a foreign language.
  • In this video, the colours are named as they appear on the screen.
  • In another video, the colours are named and some examples are given.


Here are some suggestions for practicing colours in Russian without any standard exercises:


  • There are certain items which we use every day. Practice saying what colour your cup, toothbrush, towel, t-shirt, notepad and other objects of your daily life are.
  • If you are an art-lover, enjoy your favorite pictures and think about the main colours of the artist’s palette.
  • Learn how to say your favourite colour first and find five objects which can be this colour. For example: зелёная чашка (green cup).
  • While you are walking, notice cars of different colours and any other objects. Even if you don’t know their Russian equivalent, find them in the dictionary and compose an object/colour pair. You’ll memorise these words better because they are now connected with your real experience.   


Colour symbolism in Russian culture


In every culture, there is colour symbolism. In Russian culture, black is the colour of tragedy and white is associated with purity. The colour red, in the early 20th century, acquired a new meaning and has since been primarily associated with communist ideology. The colours yellow and green have universally accepted associations: the colour "yellow" is used to describe sensationalist press, while the colour "green" is used to denote association with the environmental protection movement.


Russian idioms with the names of the colours


If you are a more experienced learner, Russian idioms with colours will enrich your vocabulary. The examples are given after every idiom:


белая ворона (black swan; literal translation “white crow”)

  • Она чувствовала себя белой вороной в новом коллективе.
  • Он казался белой вороной, потому что был не таким, как все.


красная цена (чему-либо) (top price)

  • Пятсот рублей– красная цена этому платью.


жёлтая пресса (yellow press)

  • Сообщения об этом исполнителе часто появляются в жёлтой прессе.


ёлки зелёные = ёлки-палки = ёлки-моталки (used to express emotions like surprise or annoyance or delight; ёлки зелёные literally means “green firs”)

  • Ёлки зелёные, опять он за своё!


на белом свете (in the wide world)

  • На всём белом свете только мама думала о нём.
  • Мысль, что никому до него нет дела на белом свете, что каждому он чужой, часто наводила на него тоску. (А. Плещеев.)


доводить/довести до белого каления (to irritate someone past the limits of his endurance; make someone lose his self-control completely)

  • Неприятности на работе уже довели его до белого каления.
  • Обычно сдержанного Леонида на этот раз взорвало и, как это бывает со спокойными людьми, когда их кто-нибудь доводит до белого каления, лицо его стало неузнаваемым: оно то бледнело, то волна краски заливала его. (Б. В. Изюмский, «Призвание»


смотреть сквозь розовые очки на кого-то, что-то (to idealize someone or something; not notice his, her, or it’s shortcomings)

  • Ей посоветовали перестать смотреть на мир сквозь розовые очки и постараться найти работу.


When learning something, try to find a way that it connects to your life and you'll memorize it better. So look around and name all the colours you can see!


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