What does the color brown mean?

Brown is a color that does not usually have positive interpretations. Today we show you its meaning and some curiosities about it.

Last update: December 11, 2021

Brown is a color that we find abundantly in nature. The wood, the earth, the dry leaves and the fur of some animals are a good distinctive of him. Throughout history, multiple names have been used to refer to it: coffee, pardo (in Spanish it is the oldest word), chestnut, chocolate and cinnamon are just some of the most used. We teach you all about the meaning of the color brown.

It is obtained by combining the colors red, yellow and black. It can also be achieved by combining blue, yellow and red and in some cases red and green or black and orange. In general, it is a color that is associated with negative aspects, although in certain circumstances it can have positive interpretations. Let’s see more of the meaning of the color brown.

Characteristics of the color brown

Although brown is widespread in nature, it is generally associated with negative aspects: dirt, bad smells or impurities.

The brown color is one of the most characteristic of nature. We find it in the fur of animals as important to humanity as the horse, and in drinks as consumed as coffee. It is one of the most despised colors, in part because it is associated with rustic actions, poverty or feces.



Since brown can cover a very wide spectrum of the visible wave (it occupies the frequency of yellow, orange and red) there are dozens of possible shades. Sometimes a badge is used to specify the referenced hue: light brown, dark brown, soft brown, reddish brown, and so on. We leave you with other characteristics of the brown color:

  • It is estimated that between 70% and 79% of the world’s population have brown eyes.
  • Between 15% and 20% of the population has brown (chestnut) hair.
  • Most soils are brown in color due to the natural breakdown of manganese, sulfur, and nitrogen.
  • Solid waste from humans and many animals is brown due to the presence of bilirubin.
  • It is a color very little used in heraldry, except in those objects that demand that tone (trees, for example). Its use is also rare in vexillology.
  • The color of the Eiffel Tower is brown. Although it has varied over the years, the current one is a combination of three different shades.
  • It has been a color historically used in the garb of monks, armed forces, and so on.
  • The skin takes on a shade close to brown when exposed to UV rays due to a self-defense reaction. The body produces melanin to reduce the harmful effects of long-term exposure.
  • Brown sugar is that color because it still contains molasses.
  • There is no difference in nutrients or taste between white eggs and brown eggs. A protein known as ovoporphyrin it is the one that gives color to the external covering.

Brown has not been a predominant color in art, except for some special cases (the baroque, for example). Some pagan movements give it a natural interpretation, associating it with a connection to the planet.

The meaning of the color brown in psychology

The meaning of the brown color takes on a different nuance from the perspective of the marketing, since this can have a neutral effect at the time of purchase. This is why some companies dress their employees in uniforms in brown, black or navy blue. Your opinions, recommendations and actions will be construed as neutral..



Except for products like chocolate, coffee, and more, brown is rarely a popular color for packaging. This is because people associate it with already perishable food, with an unappetizing taste, and directly with feces and rot. We leave you with other interpretations of the meaning of the color brown:

  • A brown garment can convey the feeling of confidence and security (a scarf, a tie and other complementary elements).
  • When used in large quantities, the color brown can convey ideas of loneliness or isolation (a pants, a shirt, and so on).
  • If combined with dark colors, it can encourage association with negative ideas or emotions (anger, fear, anger, and so on).
  • Light tones reflect a neutral attitude, so it does not have a major influence on people’s behavior or attitude.

Although its impact is not as direct as it happens with primary colors, we cannot say that brown is a marginal color from a psychological point of view. It is true that it is not a color that stands out, but it tends to be camouflaged within the crowd.

The meaning of the color brown in different cultures

Although not everyone likes it, the color brown has influenced the artistic and cultural world for centuries.

We cannot dismiss this section on the meaning of the color brown without first mentioning its importance or significance in different cultures. We complete the curiosities that we have already exposed:

  • Brown is a capital color in the pictorial expressions of the first humans. Among other things, the mixture was made on the basis of clay.
  • The amphorae and vases of almost every civilization in the world were decorated with designs in brown.
  • In the Roman Empire this color was associated with barbaric attitudes or with the lower class.
  • Since the Middle Ages, the monks of the Franciscan order wear brown robes in reference to humility.
  • Various shades of brown play a leading role in the chiaroscuro effect of some painters (Caravaggio, for example).
  • Brown was adopted as the preferred color for the Hitler Youth uniform. Along with red and black, it is one of the characteristic colors of Nazism.
  • The pagans appropriated this color as a symbol of the connection with nature.
  • It is a color that we see frequently in the uniform of different sports teams.

We hope that with these latest curiosities you have perceived the meaning of the color brown from a different prism. It is one of the colors with the greatest contrasts, since there is no middle point with respect to it: Or you love it, or hate it. This at least if we take into account the standard color tone.

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