Yellow — the color of sunshine — has a multitude of associations, including joy, happiness, intellect, and energy. Colors affect us in a whole host of ways, mentally, emotionally, and subconsciously. In Part 3 of our color series, we will explore what the color yellow means to us.
The color yellow produces a warming effect, arouses cheerfulness, stimulates mental activity, and generates muscle energy.
Yellow is often associated with food.
Squirrel monkey. Photo Mape S
Maltese Falcon, national bird of Zimbabwe and Zambia. Photo Foxypar4
Bright, pure yellow is an attention getter, which is why taxicabs are painted this color.
Dull, dingy yellow represents caution, decay, sickness, jaundice, and jealousy.
Light yellow is associated with intellect, freshness, and joy.
Gecko. Photo Jurvetson
Boa Semana dragonly. Photo Ana Cotta
Monarch butterfly. Photo Spettacolopuro
Hoverfly. Photo Tanakawho
When overused, yellow may have a disturbing effect, and proven that babies cry more in yellow rooms.
Yellow is noticed before other colors when placed against black, and the combination is often used to represent a warning. It’s associated with the word ‘caution’ and is the second light on stop lights.
In heraldry, yellow indicates honor and loyalty.
The meaning of yellow is traditionally associated with cowardice. In American slang, a coward can be said to be ‘yellowbellied’ or ‘yellow.’
The color is associated with aging as well, for both people and objects, such as ‘yellowed’ paper.
The word yellow comes from the Old English geolu, or geolwe which derived from the Proto-Germanic word gelwaz. The oldest known use of this word in English is in the Old English poem Beowulf, in a description of a shield made of wood from a yew tree.
Photo Kevin Dooley
Glencoe, Illinois. Photo Sandeep
Photo Kevin Dooley
Photo Linda O’Dell
Photo Fevi Yu
Uses for the Color Yellow
Use the color to evoke pleasant, cheerful feelings. You can utilize yellow to promote children’s products and items related to leisure. Yellow is very effective for attracting attention, so use it to highlight the most important elements in design.
Men often perceive yellow as a very light-hearted ‘childish’ color, and therefore not recommended to use when selling prestigious, expensive products to men, such as business suits or a Mercedes Benz.
Yellow is an unstable and spontaneous color, so avoid using it if you’re trying to portray stability and safety.
Shades of yellow are visually unappealing for the reason that they loose cheerfulness and become dingy.
Photo Visual Panic
Photo Mickey Zimen
Photo Wolfgang Staudt
Potato Island. Photo Wolfgang Staudt
Yellow in Cultural Associations
The ancient Maya associated the color yellow with the direction South. The Maya glyph for yellow — or k’an — also means ‘precious’ or ‘ripe,’ and is traditionally associated with the Malay Rulers of Malaysia.
Yellow — or ‘giallo’ — refers to crime stories, both fictional and real in Italy. This association began in about 1930, when the first series of crime novels published in Italy had yellow covers.
The term ‘yellow movie’ can refer to films of pornographic nature in Chinese culture, and is analogous to the English ‘blue movie.’
It’s associated with sensational journalistic practices — or yellow journalism — and resistance to militant trade unions.
San Isidro infrared panorama. Photo Luis Archerich
Photo Fady Habib
Rocky Mountain National Park Trail Ridge Road. Photo Adam Baker
Monument Valley north of Arizona. Photo Wolfgang Staudt
Photo Kevin Dooley
The legendary first emperor of China was known as the Yellow Emperor or Huang Di. Members of the imperial family of China at that time were the only ones allowed to display the color yellow in buildings and garments.
The Yellow Turbans were a Daoist sect that staged an extensive rebellion during the Han Dynasty.
Obidos, Portugal. Photo Feliciano Guimaraes
Limestone rock formations at Ras Al Jinz beach, Oman. Photo Mary Paulose
Ras Al Jinz beach, Oman. Photo Mary Paulose
Photo Mary Paulose
Photo Vince Bautes
Religion and Metaphysics
The Christian holiday of Easter is represented by the colors yellow and lavender because the crocus flower — which is yellow and lavender — blooms in Europe in spring.
In the metaphysics of the New Age Prophetess, Alice A. Bailey’s system called the ‘Seven Rays’ which classifies humans into 7 different metaphysical psychological types, the 4th ray of harmony through conflict is represented by the color yellow. People who have this metaphysical psychological type are said to be on the Yellow Ray.
Psychics who claim to be able to observe the aura with their third eye report that someone with a yellow aura is typically someone who is in an occupation requiring intellectual acumen, such as a scientist.
Photo Hamed Saber
Photo Josef Stuefer
Photo Kevin Dooley
Stars of spectral classes F and G, such as our sun Sol, have color temperatures that make them appear yellowish.
NASA’s Spitzer and Hubble Space Telescopes have teamed up to expose
the chaos that baby stars are creating 1,500 light years away
in a cosmic cloud called the Orion Nebula. Photo NASA
Mercury on the Sun. Transits of Mercury don’t happen very often, with only
about 12 more this century. The last was on May 7, 2003, and the next
doesn’t come until May 9, 2016. Photo Edhiker
The first astronomer to classify stars according to their color was F. G. W. Struve in 1827. One of his classifications was flavae, or yellow, and this roughly corresponded to stars in the modern spectral range F5 to K0.
The Strömgren photometric system for stellar classification includes a ‘y’ or yellow filter that is centered at a wavelength of 550 nm and has a bandwidth of 20–30 nm.
Lisbon. Photo Francisco Antunes
Out of Africa. Photo Josef Stuefer
The Manor Villa Louis at height Edenkoben (Rheinland-Pfalz) is a former
summer residence of King Ludwig I of Bavaria. Photo Wolfgang Staudt
Uelzecht. Photo Wolfgang Staudt
Photo Til Krech
Photo Sukanto Debnath
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