Facts, History, and Meanings of the Color Yellow

A collection of facts, history, meanings, uses, phrases, and lore about the color yellow



History and Lore: To the ancient Greeks, yellow denoted air. Leonardo da Vinci wrote that yellow represented earth. To the Navaho, the western mountains are yellow and bring the twilight. To the Hopi, yellow is north. In India it is the symbol of the merchant and farmer, although at one time it was considered the dress of the ascetic. In some countries Jews were ordered by law to wear yellow clothing because of their alleged betrayal of Jesus. Judas was often depicted wearing a yellow robe signifying inconstancy, jealousy, and deceit. In 10th-century France, the doors of felons, traitors, and criminals were painted yellow.

Daily Uses: Because yellow has good visibility qualities, it is commonly used to denote caution; for example, in the yellow light before the red light signal and in traffic-lane dividers. It is also used to emphasize areas where hazards are apparent and as the symbol for quarantine. Yellow is an appropriate color for a room used for studying because it has a stimulating effect on the mind. Its intensity is also good for stairs and corridors that don't receive natural light.

Yellow is found in such foods as banana squashes, corn, yellow peppers, sweet potatoes, bananas, lemons, grapefruit, and pineapples.

Colorful Phrases: Yellow fever, yellow journalism, yellow streak down your back, yellow (cowardly).

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