Khaki (color): Wikis


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Policemen in India in their khaki colored uniform

The name of the color khaki coined in British India comes from the Hindustani language (itself a borrowed form of the Persian and Lurish word khak meaning dust), meaning "dusty, dust covered or earth colored." It has been used by many armies around the world for uniforms, including camouflage. Most notably, khaki was used by the British Army in India beginning in 1848.

Khaki-colored uniforms were used officially by British troops for the first time during the Abyssinian campaign of 1867-68, when Indian troops traveled to Ethiopia (Abyssinia) under the command of general Sir Robert Napier to release some British captives and to "persuade the Abyssinian King [Theodore], forcibly if necessary, to mend his ways".[1]

"This was the first major campaign in which some of the troops wore khaki, which had been officially introduced as approved working dress in 1861. Although approval was withdrawn in 1864, many troops, particularly those who had seen active service on the North-West Frontier (Pakistan), continued to dye their white drill uniforms with tea leaves or other substances. Khaki ('dusty') was said to have been invented by Lieutenant (later Lieutenant-general) Harry Lumsden when, in December 1846, he founded the Corps of Guides." [2]

In Western fashion, it is a standard color for semi-formal dress pants (trousers) for civilians.

However, the name is sometimes also used to describe a green color similar to asparagus or pale sea green (especially by the linen/textile/lingerie industries). In the mid-twentieth century as many Western militaries adopted an olive drab instead of the older, more brownish khaki, the two color names became associated with each other. In French, "khaki" refers to a much darker olive drab style military green.


Military khaki

Initially, khaki was the characteristic color of British tropical uniforms, having a shade closer to the original Indian idea of 'dusty' brown. To these days, in common parlance of Anglo-Saxon countries, khaki as color brings to mind a brown, even beige, hue. This is not necessarily the case for the military terminology, though, often creating confusion.

When khaki was adopted for the continental British Service dress in 1902, the shade chosen had a clearly darker and more greenish hue. This color was adopted with minor variations by all the British Empire Armies and the US expeditionary force of World War I, in the latter under the, probably more descriptive, name Olive Drab. This shade of brown-green remained in use by many countries throughout the two World Wars. One could roughly divide the world's Armies in the first half of the century in those wearing 'khaki' (brown-green) - US, UK, France, Russia/Soviet Union, Japan, Canada, Australia, Belgium, Holland, Turkey, Greece to name but few - and those that chose grey-green shades, foremost Germany, Austria, Italy, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Romania, Scandinavian countries. Then again there was dramatic variation and significant overlap between the two extremes of brown and grey, even within the same army.

During the second half of the WWII, American olive drab became distinctly greener, a major departure from the original idea of khaki. Most of the countries that participated post war in the NATO alliance, adopted the US military style and with it the green olive drab color (often called olive green for this reason). This color continued to be called khaki in many European countries. In France for example the term passed in the general language for a green-shade of olive color. The older yellow-brown used in WWI was called in France moutarde instead. Nowadays very few significant militaries still use solid olive drab or khaki for battledress - with notable exceptions the Israeli IDF and the Austrian Bundesheer, as the vast majority has adopted multicolor camouflage.

Dark khaki

Dark Khaki
About these coordinates About these coordinates
— Color coordinates —
Hex triplet #BDB76B
RGBB (r, g, b) (189, 183, 107)
HSV (h, s, v) (56°, 43%, 74%)
Source X11
B: Normalized to [0–255] (byte)

At right is displayed the web color dark khaki.[3]

This is the color that is called dark khaki (one of the X11 color names) in X11 because it is darker than X11 khaki (and also HTML/CSS Khaki).


About these coordinates About these coordinates
— Color coordinates —
Hex triplet #C3B091
RGBB (r, g, b) (195, 176, 145)
HSV (h, s, v) (37°, 26%, 76%)
B: Normalized to [0–255] (byte)

Displayed at right is the color khaki.

This is the color called khaki in HTML/CSS.

This is the color generally thought of as being khaki by the average person--this is the color that one expects to see when one buys a pair of khaki pants. This is also the color designated as khaki in the 1930 book A Dictionary of Color, the standard for color nomenclature before the introduction of computers.

The first recorded use of khaki as a color name in English was in 1848.[4]

Light khaki

Light Khaki
About these coordinates About these coordinates
— Color coordinates —
Hex triplet #F0E68C
RGBB (r, g, b) (240, 230, 140)
HSV (h, s, v) (54°, 41%, 94%)
Source X11[5]
B: Normalized to [0–255] (byte)

At right is displayed the color light khaki.

This is the color called khaki in X11. [3].

Shades of khaki color comparison chart

  • Light Khaki (X11 "Khaki") (Hex: #F0E68C) (RGB: 240, 230, 140)
  • Khaki (HTML/CSS) (Hex: #C3B091) (RGB: 195, 176, 145)
  • Dark Khaki (X11 "Dark Khaki") (Hex: #BDB76B) (RGB: 189, 183, 107)

Other variations of the color khaki

  • Khaki variation 1 (Hex: #C5B395) RGB (197, 179, 149)
  • Khaki variation 2 (Hex: #C8B69A) RGB (200, 182, 154)
  • Khaki variation 3 (Hex: #CBBBA0) RGB (203, 187, 160)
  • Khaki variation 4 (Hex: #CFC0A7) RGB (207, 192, 167)
  • Khaki variation 5 (Hex: #D5C8B2) RGB (213, 200, 178)
  • Khaki variation 6 (Hex: #C1AD8D) RGB (193, 173, 141)
  • Khaki variation 7 (Hex: #BEAA88) RGB (190, 170, 136)
  • Khaki variation 8 (Hex: #BBA582) RGB (187, 165, 130)
  • Khaki variation 9 (Hex: #B7A07B) RGB (183, 160, 123)
  • Khaki variation 10 (Hex: #B19870) RGB (177, 152, 112)

Khaki in human culture


  1. ^ Byron Farwell, Armies of the Raj, 1989, page 75.
  2. ^ (Farwell, page 77.)
  3. ^ a b CSS3 Color Module, retrieved 2007-02-15
  4. ^ Maerz and Paul A Dictionary of Color New York:1930 McGraw-Hill Page 197; Color Sample of Khaki: Page 49 Plate 13 Color Sample J7
  5. ^ W3C TR CSS3 Color Module, HTML4 color keywords

See also

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