Stimulating, energetic and warm, red always draws the attention. The Chinese consider red the color of good fortune, while Hindus believe it's a color of creativity, joy and life. In the West, red is associated with love and passion. In the Chinese aesthetics system of feng shui, a red front door invites prosperity to the home’s residents.
Glowing in Nature
Some beautiful shades of red take their names from the natural world. Coral -- a light pinkish-orange shade of red -- is the name of brilliantly hued marine organisms. Ruby red is a deep vivid red, reminiscent of the precious ruby gemstone mined from the earth. Carnelian, a deep red shade, is named for a reddish-brown variety of the mineral chalcedony. Cardinal red takes its name from both the red-feathered cardinal family of birds and from the cassocks worn by cardinals of the Catholic Church. The fruity apple red makes a popular lipstick and nail polish color.
The Plant World
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Flowers come in all the shades and tints of red, from the palest pink phlox to the deepest maroon of some hollyhocks. “Fuchsia” is associated with a pinkish-purple or magenta-like shade of red from the brilliantly colored dangling flowers of the fuchsia plant. This Central and South American native was discovered in 1703 and named in honor of German physician Leonhart Fuchs. The color rose, just like the flower rose, is beloved for its refined and refreshing appearance between red and magenta on the color wheel. The color and the flower are both associated with feelings of love and happiness. Pink, a mixture of red and white, gets its name from a flower of the same name. Although dianthus, or pinks, do indeed come in all shades of pink and red, they are named not for their color, but for the appearance of the flowers’ edges, which look as though they were cut with pinking shears. Mauve refers to a muted lavender-lilac shade of red, and derives from the Old French word for the mallow plant. Maroon, a deep, almost brown shade of red, takes its name from the French word “marron,” meaning chestnut.
Food and Drink
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Many red colors come from certain foods and drinks. Burgundy comes from the name of a rich red wine first produced in Burgundy, France. Candy apple became a color description thanks to its popularity with the automotive industry, according to the website Rides. Joe Bailon, a California car customizer, invented a highly popular metallic red automotive paint that he named “candy apple red.” A number of fruits lend their names to red colors as well, including the orange-red persimmon, pinkish-red raspberry and bright red cherry. Cerise, a vivid pinkish-red shade, comes from the French word for cherry.
Red pigments used for paints include red ochre, red madder lake, carmine, magenta and vermilion. Scarlet is a bright red with an orange hue; crimson is similarly bright but with blue undertones. Shades such as fire engine red, blood red, brick red, barn red, tomato red and flame red are immediately recognizable from their descriptive names. Darker and more brownish- or orange-red shades include redwood, rosewood, rust, terra cotta and auburn.
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Gwen Bruno has been a full-time freelance writer since 2009, with her gardening-related articles appearing on DavesGarden. She is a former teacher and librarian, and she holds a bachelor's degree in education from Augustana College and master's degrees in education and library science from North Park University and the University of Wisconsin.