Colors In Swahili : This Amazing Guide will Make You Speak Colors in Swahili Instantly!

July 9, 2023 No Comments
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Hey there! Have you ever wondered how to describe colors in Swahili? Whether you’re learning Swahili for fun, travel, or work, knowing the names of colors is essential. This article will teach you everything you need to know about colors in Swahili so you can sound like a pro. From the basics like red, blue, and green to more complex shades, we’ve got you covered.

You’ll be describing rainbows in Swahili in no time. Strap in, open your Swahili dictionary, and get ready for a crash course in one of the most vivid parts of this beautiful language. By the end, you’ll feel comfortable and confident using color words in Swahili conversation.

Primary Colors in Swahili

To understand colors in Swahili, you’ve got to know the basics. Let’s start with the primary colors:

  • Nyekundu means red. Use it to describe everything from a bright fire truck to a deep wine color.
  • Nyeusi means black. Use it for any dark color from charcoal gray to jet black. Synonyms are giza and usiku.
  • Nyeupe means white. Use it to describe any light, pale color from snow white to cream.
 Colors In Swahili

The secondary colors in Swahili are:

  • Manjano means yellow. Use it for colors like lemon, gold, and banana. Synonyms are njano
  • Samawati means blue. Use it for shades from light blue to navy. Synonyms are buluu and kobalti.

By combining primary and secondary colors, you can describe a wide range of colors in Swahili. For example, orange is “nyekundu manjano,” violet is “nyeusi na samawati,” and brown is “nyekundu na nyeusi.” Now you have the basics down pat and are well on your way to mastering colors in Swahili!

Secondary Colors in Swahili

To expand your Swahili color vocabulary, you need to know the secondary colors. These are colors created by mixing equal amounts of two primary colors (blue, red, and yellow).

Mixing blue and yellow gives you green (rangi ya kijani), one of the most common secondary colors. You’ll use it to describe plants, grass, and envy. Red and yellow combine to make orange (rangi ya machungwa), ideal for describing citrus fruits, sunsets, and warmth. machungwa maua is peach, and machungwa moto is bright orange. Finally, blue mixed with red creates purple (rangi ya zambarau).

By learning these secondary colors in Swahili, you open up a whole new rainbow of ways to describe the world around you. And when you combine secondary colors, you get shades and tints that expand your options even more. So don’t stop here – keep mixing, blending, and practicing to become fluent in the colorful language of Swahili!

Tertiary Colors in Swahili

Swahili has words for tertiary colors that describe more subtle shades. These terms are useful when you want to be more precise in your color descriptions.


The Swahili word for light red or pink is ‘rangi ya waridi’. For brick red, use ‘rangi ya mzinga’.


A light peachy shade of orange is ‘rangi ya kamkam’. A darker, rusty orange is ‘rangi ya kungu’.


Light yellow is ‘rangi ya njano’. For golden yellow, say ‘rangi ya dhahabu’.


Swahili has several words for different greens. A light, minty green is ‘rangi ya bustani’. Olive green is ‘rangi ya zeituni’. Teal or sea green is ‘rangi ya bahari’. Forest green is ‘rangi ya msitu’.


Light or sky blue is ‘rangi ya anga’. Navy blue is ‘rangi ya bahari kuu’. For a medium, bright blue, use ‘rangi ya kobalti’.

Neutral Colors in Swahili

 Colors In Swahili

White (Nyeupe)

In Swahili, the color white is nyeupe. White symbolizes purity, innocence, and peace. Traditionally, Swahili brides wear white wedding dresses, and hospital workers and doctors wear white coats.

Gray (Kijivu)

The Swahili word for gray is kijivu. This neutral, muted shade represents practicality, maturity, and conservatism. Gray is a popular color for business and office attire in Swahili culture.

Black (Mweusi)

Black, or nyeusi in Swahili, signifies sophistication, formality, and mourning. Swahili people often wear black at funerals and memorial services to show respect for the deceased. However, black is also considered stylish and is frequently worn in cities and for evening occasions.

Colors in Swahili of Cultural Associations

The Swahili language has a rich and poetic connection to colors. Colors are frequently used in idioms, proverbs, and cultural expressions. Understanding these connections will give you insight into Swahili speakers’ worldviews and philosophies.


In Swahili, the color red (nyekundu) is associated with blood, passion, and love. Red also symbolizes danger or warning. Some examples:

  • Kula nyama nyekundu – to get into trouble or face danger. Literally “to eat red meat”.
  • Kuona nyekundu – to get angry or see red.


The color blue (bluu) is linked to openness, freedom, and the sea. For example:

  • Kuwa na mawazo bluu – to have open or progressive ideas. Literally “to have blue thoughts”.


Green (kijani) represents nature, fertility, growth, and life. For instance:

  • Mti kijani – a green tree, meaning a living or thriving tree.
  • Majani mabichi – fresh or lush greenery.


In Swahili, the color black (nyeusi or mweusi) is associated with darkness, death, and sorrow. Some examples:

  • Siku nyeusi – a black day, meaning a sad or tragic day.


The color white (nyeupe) signifies purity, clarity, and peace. For example:

  • Nia nyeupe – pure intentions or a clear conscience. Literally “white purpose”.

As you can see, colors feature prominently in Swahili language and culture. Understanding these associations will provide insight into how Swahili speakers view and interpret the world around them. Paying attention to references of color in Swahili sayings and expressions will also help in learning the nuances of the language.


And there you have it, everything you need to know about colors in Swahili. Now you’ll be able to confidently describe the vibrant red of a sunset, the bright yellow of the hot sun, and the deep blue of the Indian Ocean. You can talk colors with locals and understand what they mean when they describe something as “nyeupe” or “manjano”. So get out there and start putting your new color knowledge to use in conversation. Let the colorful world of Swahili open up to you as you explore all the ways to describe what you see around you each and every day. You’ve got this! Now go spread your colorful Swahili wings and fly.

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I'm an elementary school teacher who loves what she does! I enjoy creating resources in my Native language "kiswahili". My goal is to spread the beautiful language of "Kiswahili" inside and outside the classroom. Thanks for stopping by! Read More

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