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English-language surnames that are colours

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White, Black, Grey/Gray, Brown, and Green are common. 


Is this because they relate to nature (day/night, dusk, and mud/pooh, grass and leaves)?

I was just thinking that you don't meet many people with surnames that are colours other than these. Famously there is Jason Orange (real name) from Take That. But you don't see many Reds (which is odd considering blood) or Blues (which is odd considering THE SKY AND THE SEA), or Yellows. And they are the PRIMARY COLOURS. 

2
In reply to Blue Straggler:

> White, Black, Grey/Gray, Brown, and Green are common. 
> Is this because they relate to nature (day/night, dusk, and mud/pooh, grass and leaves)?
> I was just thinking that you don't meet many people with surnames that are colours other than these. Famously there is Jason Orange (real name) from Take That. But you don't see many Reds (which is odd considering blood) or Blues (which is odd considering THE SKY AND THE SEA), or Yellows. And they are the PRIMARY COLOURS. 

I will do what you do quite often on UKC to other users and ask in a patronising manner have you actually bothered to do any research into the origins of the Surnames you reference. 🙄

5
 Clarence 26 Jul 2020
In reply to Blue Straggler:

I know people called Maroon and Pink as well.

In reply to FactorXXX:

> I will do what you do quite often on UKC to other users and ask in a patronising manner have you actually bothered to do any research into the origins of the Surnames you reference. 🙄

This thread is my research, and I don't find your enquiry to be patronising, it is a reasonable and straightforward question from you. I don't, however, think that I "quite often do this on UKC to other users". I do it where it is necessary, and that's not often. 

Post edited at 23:57
13
In reply to FactorXXX:

The thread was actually an intended "playful" spinoff from the Name Change thread where I noted that Barry White is black and Mary Black is white, plus the news about Peter Green's death got me thinking about colours as surnames. At risk of sounding a bit Timmd, I just thought it might amuse people for a moment. If I really wanted to know, like it was super important to me, then yes, as you rightly point out, I could, should and would actually do some research outside of the UKC forums. 

Thanks for your lesson on netiquette though. It's been fabulous! 

6
In reply to Blue Straggler:

> This thread is my research, and I don't find your enquiry to be patronising, it is a reasonable and straightforward question from you. I don't, however, think that I "quite often do this on UKC to other users". I do it where it is necessary, and that's not often. 

Have you actually bothered to do any research into the surnames you reference?
If not, why not?
Seems like a sensible thing to do and it's the sort of thing most intelligent people would do before starting a UKC thread on it. 

19
In reply to Blue Straggler:

> Thanks for your lesson on netiquette though. It's been fabulous! 

The pomposity is strong with this one...

7
In reply to FactorXXX:

> Have you actually bothered to do any research into the surnames you reference?

> If not, why not?

> Seems like a sensible thing to do and it's the sort of thing most intelligent people would do before starting a UKC thread on it. 

"The thread was actually an intended "playful" spinoff from the Name Change thread where I noted that Barry White is black and Mary Black is white, plus the news about Peter Green's death got me thinking about colours as surnames. At risk of sounding a bit Timmd, I just thought it might amuse people for a moment. If I really wanted to know, like it was super important to me, then yes, as you rightly point out, I could, should and would actually do some research outside of the UKC forums. "

2
In reply to FactorXXX:

> Seems like a sensible thing to do and it's the sort of thing most intelligent people would do before starting a UKC thread on it. 

A serious reply from me now. I have found that certain "wide" topics can be frustratingly tricky to research via entering search terms into Google. I suspected that this might be one of them. And that, as I posited in the OP, I might easily find the etymology of the common colour surnames but could soon be falling down a rabbit hole of madness when trying to find out why not many people are called Mr Yellow. 

I often get better concise results on tricky questions, by posting on Facebook rather than trying to Google stuff. Example. Identifying strange plastic things that are materialising in my garden. Facebook friends quickly identified them as sleepers from G-Scale model railways. Reverse Google Image search just saw "wood". 

In reply to Blue Straggler:

> White, Black, Grey/Gray, Brown, and Green are common. 

> Is this because they relate to nature (day/night, dusk, and mud/pooh, grass and leaves)?

I think white, black and brown were generally derived from hair colour or complexion. Similarly, red is common enough in its older forms like Reade and Reed. Green would probably be geographical, as in village green, much like Field. Gray I guess could have been allocated to the elderly when the nasty Normans imposed surnames so they could tax people more easily. 

 Bob Kemp 27 Jul 2020
In reply to Blue Straggler:

We need to look at why people might have acquired colour surnames. In the UK they typically come from things like occupation, appearance or location. So a colour like blue would be unlikely as it doesn’t easily fit any of those categories. Red may have been represented by names like ‘Ruddy’, or be more specific like ‘Redhead ‘.Yellow isn’t used that much as a descriptor for fair-haired people, instead you have names beginning with ‘Fair-‘. 
(I see Andy has just posted more or less the same thing...)

Post edited at 07:22
 Bob Kemp 27 Jul 2020
In reply to Blue Straggler:

> A serious reply from me now. I have found that certain "wide" topics can be frustratingly tricky to research via entering search terms into Google. I suspected that this might be one of them. 

That’s a very reasonable point but I’ve just tested it out for this case with ‘british colour surnames’ and got decent results eg. this entertaining Guardian Notes and Queries piece:

https://www.theguardian.com/notesandqueries/query/0,,-197458,00.html

 deepsoup 27 Jul 2020
In reply to Blue Straggler:

> I do it where it is necessary, and that's not often. 

I call bullshit.  It is never necessary to get your snark on and when you do it, you do it for fun.

2
 deepsoup 27 Jul 2020
In reply to Bob Kemp:

Well now I'm just a bit disappointed that the UKC hive mind didn't come up with the terrible pun about many Hughes. ;-)

 Bob Kemp 27 Jul 2020
In reply to deepsoup:

On the other hand it hasn’t taken more than a few posts for dissent and acrimony to emerge, so at least one great tradition is flourishing! 😄

 james1978 27 Jul 2020
In reply to Blue Straggler:

What about Mr Pink?

 elliot.baker 27 Jul 2020
In reply to Blue Straggler:

I just looked up White, Brown and Black name origins and all three said were related to hair colour and skin complexion! Quite unoriginal really and not related to the day / night / mud / etc. that you were thinking

Black Name Meaning. Scottish and English: from Middle English blak(e) 'black' (Old English blæc, blaca), a nickname given from the earliest times to a swarthy or dark-haired man. 

7th century Old English word "brun" or the Old Norse personal name "Bruni". ... Brown is an English-language surname in origin chiefly descriptive of a person with brown hair, complexion or clothing. i -*** not sure about this one - what if they change their clothes? Surely most people in the 7th century had brown clothes!

The White last name has several different possible origins: White is usually a descriptive name or nickname given to a person with very light hair or complexion, from the Middle English whit, meaning "white." The last name White may be also local, derived from the Isle of Wight, on the coast of Hampshire, England.

Post edited at 08:44
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Blue as a colour and concept did not exist for a long time, the sky, sea and water were usually described as grey, green etc. or not at all. Some program on BBC ages ago.

In reply to RX-78:

> Blue as a colour and concept did not exist for a long time, the sky, sea and water were usually described as grey, green etc. or not at all. Some program on BBC ages ago.

Yes, and red didn't mean what we usually call red now either.  Our current perception of many colours results from the bright primary dyes from the German chemical revolution. 

 wercat 27 Jul 2020
In reply to Clarence:

Gwen Moffat's detective heroine is called Miss Pink

does Cleary or Cleare count?

In reply to RX-78:

> Blue as a colour and concept did not exist for a long time, the sky, sea and water were usually described as grey, green etc. or not at all.

Any well-read person knows that the sea is snotgreen, not blue.

 Agar Jelly 27 Jul 2020
In reply to RX-78:

> Blue as a colour and concept did not exist for a long time,

Similarly. the flavour umami wasn't recognised until 1990, in 2006 umami taste bud receptors were finally discovered!

 Doug 27 Jul 2020
In reply to RX-78:

> Blue as a colour and concept did not exist for a long time, the sky, sea and water were usually described as grey, green etc. or not at all. Some program on BBC ages ago.


Apparently still the case for Gaelic (according to friends who can speak it)

 Sealwife 27 Jul 2020
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Lots of people with Reid as a surname in Scotland 

In reply to RX-78:

> Blue as a colour and concept did not exist for a long time, the sky, sea and water were usually described as grey, green etc. or not at all. Some program on BBC ages ago.

It's not quite that blue didn't 'exist', and it's not just historic. Many languages simply consider black/grey/blue/green as being variations of the same shade. 

In Welsh for example it's the other way round - the word for blue - "Glas" - was used (and still is in place names) for both green, blue and sometimes silvery grey and it's "Gwyrdd" that's been adopted as the word for green in modern use. 

There's an interesting summary here: https://www.daytranslations.com/blog/language-changes-color/

 Bob Kemp 27 Jul 2020
In reply to RX-78:

> Blue as a colour and concept did not exist for a long time, the sky, sea and water were usually described as grey, green etc. or not at all. Some program on BBC ages ago.

That explains the ‘wine-dark sea’ in Homer, which never made any sense to me. 

 Bob Kemp 27 Jul 2020
In reply to Andy Clarke:

> Any well-read person knows that the sea is snotgreen, not blue.

Anyone whose childhood involved trips to the British seaside will know that the sea is grey. And scrotumtightening of course. 

 Tom V 27 Jul 2020
In reply to james1978:

And Miss Scarlett, Professor Plum and Colonel Mustard?

 Tom V 27 Jul 2020
In reply to Bob Kemp:

I'm surprised that after twelve hours there's been little sign of the other UKC tradition, pedantry. 

Along the lines of

" Surely someone as intelligent as  Blue Straggler should be aware that black and white are not actually considered to be colours by various experts in physics and the world of art....".

( Inverted commas denote that it was the hypothetical pedant speaking, not me )

Post edited at 11:33
In reply to Bob Kemp:

> On the other hand it hasn’t taken more than a few posts for dissent and acrimony to emerge, so at least one great tradition is flourishing! 😄

The tradition of FactorXXX spotting my name and jumping in to start a fight?  

Thanks, everyone who made helpful contributions. I hadn't considered Reid/Read/Reade/Redhead 

1
 Wild Cyclist 27 Jul 2020
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Northern Ireland has the highest density of 'Chroma's in the world.

 Tom Last 27 Jul 2020
In reply to Blue Straggler:

I have an old friend not seen for some years, a Miss Pink (possibly Mrs by now) who as a bit of a fun and probably un-woke aside is the only person I’ve ever known to have been born a man and since become a woman. 

 Pedro50 27 Jul 2020
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Rabbi Lionel Blue. 

In reply to deepsoup:

> I call bullshit.  It is never necessary to get your snark on and when you do it, you do it for fun.

You are still hung up on one post of mine from the past year or so, where I said that all of social media involving people that I’ll never meet, equates to a big computer game. You seem quite obsessed with that one post. That post itself was made, at the time, as a bit of “fun” for myself, it was inaccurate and I really rather regret it now - AS DISCUSSED PREVIOUSLY WITH YOU SEVERAL TIMES ON THESE FORUMS ACTUALLY - maybe you might consider being kind enough to stop snarkily referencing it. Like a grown-up might do (free snark there at the end for you there because I think you quietly thrive on it. And that was Inception snark there as I don’t actually think that, what with my being one of the good guys, which I know you know you am)

2
In reply to Blue Straggler:

The name "Bowie" is from the Scots Gaelic "Bhuidhe" which translates as "yellow", a reference to hair colour. 

 deepsoup 28 Jul 2020
In reply to Blue Straggler:

> You are still hung up on one post of mine from the past year or so..

Weelll..  maybe a bit.  Not exactly.  No but yeah but ..

Actually, it doesn't matter.  Oof - you shouldn't be stressing about something I've said to you at 3:42am, that ain't right.  I'll do my best to let it drop, sorry.

In reply to deepsoup:

Cheers, and it’s no problem. I think I was stressed about something else (changing my car but having misplaced my V5C and reading that replacements might take 5 days or might take 5 weeks!) and sort of focused on your comment, for an outlet . I’ve chilled out about the V5C and lifted my deadline on swapping car.

 Darron 28 Jul 2020
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Of course if your surname is Green you should in no circumstances name your daughter Theresa.


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