Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Shades of Gray

Anticipating painting some outdoor wooden furniture, I was idly searching online color charts the other day. I was amused by the names that are given to paint colors: Honey Blush, Tupelo Tree, and Expressive Plum are some names used by Sherwin-Williams.

It must be challenging for their staff to create a palette of names. When it comes to the color red, for instance, we find Show Stopper, Heartthrob, Lusty Red, Red Obsession, Wild Current [sic], Feverish Pink, and Stolen Kiss.

At least, I thought, there won’t be much variety with monochromatic gray; I was wrong, though the names are appropriately muted. I found Link Gray, Quest Gray, Flexible Gray, Cloak Gray, Functional Gray, Useful Gray, Sedate Gray, Austere Gray, and Aloof Gray. My heart skipped a beat at Sensuous Gray, but then settled down.

I shouldn’t have been surprised. When I was editing the Word Parts Dictionary, I came across eight roots expressing that color. Since then, I have found more. Here is a lineup.

caes- blue-gray
Examples: caesious, caesium

can- white-gray
Examples: canescence, canescent

ferr- iron-gray
Examples: ferrane, ferrandine

glauc- silver-gray
Examples: glaucescent, glaucoma

grid- flax-gray or violet-gray
Example: gridelin

gris- pearl-gray
Examples: griseous, éminence grise

peli- dark blue-gray
Examples: peliosis, peliom

pheo-/phaeo- dusky-gray
Examples: pheochrome, haemophaein

polio- pale-gray
Examples: poliomyelitis, polioencephalitis

tephr- ash-gray
Examples: tephroite, tephritic

SIDEBAR: Henry Gray, Anatomy of the Human Body

Now available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition

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