AskDefine | Define yellowish

The Collaborative Dictionary

Yellowish \Yel"low*ish\, a. Somewhat yellow; as, amber is of a yellowish color. -- Yel"low*ish*ness, n. [1913 Webster]

Word Net

yellowish adj : similar to the color of an egg yolk [syn: yellow, xanthous]



  • RP: /ˈjeləʊɪʃ/
  • US: /ˈjelɔʊɪʃ/


yellowish (no comparative or superlative)
  1. Somewhat yellow (in colour).



Yellow is the color evoked by light that stimulates both the L and M (long- and medium-wavelength) cone cells of the retina about equally, but does not significantly stimulate the S (short-wavelength) cone cells; that is, light with much red and green but not very much blue. Light with a wavelength of 570–580 nm is yellow, as is light with a suitable mixture of somewhat longer and shorter wavelengths. Yellow's traditional RYB complementary color is purple, violet or indigo. Yellow's colorimetrically defined complementary color in both RGB and CMYK color spaces is blue.

Electric yellow vs. process yellow

Electric Yellow

The color box at right shows the most intense yellow representable in in 8-bit RGB color model; yellow is a secondary color in an additive RGB space.
The measured light spectrum from yellow pixels on a typical computer display is complex, and very unlike the reflectance spectrum of a yellow object such as a banana.

Process yellow

Process yellow (also known as pigment yellow, printer's yellow or canary yellow) is one of the three colors typically used as subtractive primary colors, along with magenta and cyan. The CMYK system for color printing is based on using four inks, one of which is a yellow color. This is in itself a standard color, and a fairly narrow range of yellow inks or pigments are used. Process yellow is based on a colorant that reflects the preponderance of red and green light, and absorbs most blue light, as in the reflectance spectra shown in the figure on the lower right.
Because of the characteristics of paint pigments and use of different color wheels, painters traditionally regard the complement of yellow as the color indigo or blue-violet.
Process yellow is not an RGB color, and there is no fixed conversion from CMYK primaries to RGB. Different formulations are used for printer's ink, so there can be variations in the printed color that is pure yellow ink.

Etymology and definitions

The word yellow comes from the Old English geolu, or geolwe which derived from the Proto-Germanic word gelwaz. The oldest known usage 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. In the English language, yellow is used to describe objects having the color between green and orange in the visible light spectrum (gold, egg yolks, sunflowers, etc.). The color is associated with age and aging, both with people and objects (i.e. yellowed-paper). Ethnographically, the term yellow has also been used as a slang term for both oriental persons and light-skinned African-Americans. The term is associated at times with jealousy, as well as cowardliness. Lastly, it is associated with sensational journalistic practices, or yellow journalism, and resistance to militant trade unions. defines that "two colors are complementary when it is possible to reproduce the tristimulus values of a specified achromatic stimulus by an additive mixture of these two stimuli." That is, when two colored lights can be mixed to match a specified white (achromatic, non-colored) light, the colors of those two lights are complementary. This definition, however, does not constrain what version of white will be specified. In the nineteenth century, the scientists Grassmann and Helmholtz did experiments in which they concluded that finding a good complement for spectral yellow was difficult, but that the result was indigo, that is, a wavelength that today's color scientists would call violet. Helmholtz says "Yellow and indigo blue" are complements. Grassman reconstructs Newton's category boundaries in terms of wavelengths and says "This indigo therefore falls within the limits of color between which, according to Helmholtz, the complementary colors of yellow lie." Newton's own color circle has yellow directly opposite the boundary between indigo and violet. These results, that the complement of yellow is a wavelength shorter than 450 nm, are derivable from the modern CIE 1931 system of colorimetry if it is assumed that the yellow is about 580 nm or shorter wavelength, and the specified white is the color of a blackbody radiator of temperature 2800 K or lower (that is, the white of an ordinary incandescent light bulb). More typically, with a daylight-colored or around 5000 to 6000 K white, the complement of yellow will be in the blue wavelength range, which is the standard modern answer for the complement of yellow.

Plants and animals

Yellow in human culture



  • Yellow is associated with Monday on the Thai solar calendar. Anyone may wear yellow on Mondays, and anyone born on a Monday may adopt yellow as their color.

Cultural associations

  • In the English language, yellow has traditionally been associated with jaundice and cowardice. In American slang, a coward is said to be "yellowbellied" or "yellow".
  • "Yellow" ("giallo"), in Italy, refers to crime stories, both fictional and real. This association began about in 1930 because the first series of crime novels published in Italy had a yellow cover.
  • Pencils are often painted yellow, originally because of the association of this color with the orient, where the best graphite was found.
  • Asian people are sometimes referred to as the yellow race. The use of "yellow" to refer to people of East Asian descent is usually regarded as offensive today in most contexts. In early 20th-century North America, immigrants from China and other East Asian nations were derogatorily referred to as a "yellow peril."
  • A High yellow is African-American slang for someone who is a very light-skinned African-American. This term was widely used in the early 20th century but it is seldom heard nowadays.


  • Yellow is the color of the snooker ball that has a 2-point value.
  • A semi-popular game in the UK is "Yellow Car", which involves yelling "Yellow Car" and striking someone close to you on spotting a yellow car. There are multiple variations of this game depending on area or group played with, but the above is the common rule between them.



  • Yellow is associated with jaundice, since someone who has that disease may turn yellow.



  • In the metaphysics of the New Age Prophetess, Alice A. Bailey, in her system called the Seven Rays which classifies humans into seven different metaphysical personality types, the fourth ray of harmony through conflict is represented by the color yellow. People who have this metaphysical personality 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.





yellowish in Afrikaans: Geel
yellowish in Aragonese: Amariello
yellowish in Official Aramaic (700-300 BCE): ܙܪܕܐ
yellowish in Asturian: Mariellu
yellowish in Guarani: Sa'yju
yellowish in Aymara: Q'illu
yellowish in Azerbaijani: Sarı
yellowish in Min Nan: N̂g-sek
yellowish in Banyumasan: Kuning
yellowish in Belarusian: Жоўты колер
yellowish in Bosnian: Žuta
yellowish in Bulgarian: Жълт цвят
yellowish in Catalan: Groc
yellowish in Czech: Žlutá
yellowish in Chamorro: Amariyu
yellowish in Welsh: Melyn
yellowish in Danish: Gul
yellowish in German: Gelb
yellowish in Estonian: Kollane
yellowish in Modern Greek (1453-): Κίτρινο
yellowish in Erzya: Ожо
yellowish in Spanish: Amarillo
yellowish in Esperanto: Flava
yellowish in Basque: Hori
yellowish in Persian: زرد
yellowish in French: Jaune
yellowish in Gan Chinese: 黃
yellowish in Galician: Amarelo
yellowish in Korean: 노랑
yellowish in Hindi: पीला
yellowish in Croatian: Žuta
yellowish in Indonesian: Kuning
yellowish in Icelandic: Gulur
yellowish in Italian: Giallo (colore)
yellowish in Hebrew: צהוב
yellowish in Javanese: Kuning
yellowish in Haitian: Jòn
yellowish in Kurdish: Zer
yellowish in Latin: Flavus
yellowish in Luxembourgish: Giel
yellowish in Lithuanian: Geltona
yellowish in Lingala: Bondɔbɔ́
yellowish in Hungarian: Sárga
yellowish in Maltese: Isfar
yellowish in Malay (macrolanguage): Kuning
yellowish in Dutch: Geel (kleur)
yellowish in Japanese: 黄色
yellowish in Chechen: Можа
yellowish in Norwegian: Gul
yellowish in Norwegian Nynorsk: Gul
yellowish in Narom: Jâone
yellowish in Polish: Barwa żółta
yellowish in Portuguese: Amarelo
yellowish in Romanian: Galben
yellowish in Quechua: Q'illu
yellowish in Russian: Жёлтый цвет
yellowish in Scots: Yellae
yellowish in Sicilian: Giarnu
yellowish in Simple English: Yellow
yellowish in Slovak: Žltá
yellowish in Slovenian: Rumena
yellowish in Serbian: Жута боја
yellowish in Serbo-Croatian: Žuto
yellowish in Finnish: Keltainen
yellowish in Swedish: Gul
yellowish in Thai: สีเหลือง
yellowish in Vietnamese: Vàng (màu)
yellowish in Tajik: Зард
yellowish in Turkish: Sarı
yellowish in Ukrainian: Жовтий колір
yellowish in Vlaams: Geel (kleur)
yellowish in Wolof: Mboq
yellowish in Yiddish: געל
yellowish in Contenese: 黃
yellowish in Samogitian: Geltuona
yellowish in Chinese: 黄色
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