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Color icon brown.svg
 — Common connotations —
soil, autumn, earth, skin, maple leaf, chocolate, coffee, caramel, stone
About these coordinates About these coordinates
— Color coordinates —
Hex triplet #964B00
RGBB (r, g, b) (150, 75, 0)
HSV (h, s, v) (30°, 100%, 59%)
Source [Unsourced]
B: Normalized to [0–255] (byte)
 — Some variations of Brown —
Brown (X11)
Dark Brown
Pale Brown

Brown is a color term, denoting a range of composite colors produced by a mixture of orange, red, rose, or yellow with black or gray. The term is from Old English brún, in origin for any dusky or dark shade of color.[1] The Common Germanic adjective *brûnoz, *brûnâ meant both dark colors and a glistening or shining quality, whence burnish. The current meaning developed in Middle English from the 14th century.[2]

The adjective is applied to naturally occurring colors, referring to animal fur, human hair, human skin pigmentation (tans), partially charred or carbonized fiber as in toasted bread and other foods, peat, withered leaves, etc.[3]

In terms of the visible spectrum, "brown" refers to high wavelength hues, yellow, orange, or red, in combination with low luminance or saturation.[4] Since brown may cover a wide range of the visible spectrum, composite adjectives such as red brown, yellowish brown, dark brown or light brown.)

The brown and orange disks of color are objectively identical, in identical gray surrounds, in this image; their perceived color categories depend on what white they are compared to.

As a color of low intensity, brown is a tertiary color: a mix of the three subtractive primary colors is brown if the cyan content is low. Brown exists as a color perception only in the presence of a brighter color contrast: yellow, orange, red, or rose objects are still perceived as such if the general illumination level is low, despite reflecting the same amount of red or orange light as a brown object would in normal lighting conditions.[5]

Other meanings

A baked cake
  • Browning removes excess fat from meat by heating, as under a broiler or in a frying pan, until it turns brown.
  • Browning describes chemical changes to food, desirable and undesirable. Examples of browning reactions include caramelization and the Maillard reaction (generally desirable) and the process that leads to the undesirable browning of the flesh of cut apples, pears, potatos, and the like.
  • In the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s, the German Nazi paramilitary organization the Sturmabteilung (SA) wore brown uniforms and were known as the brownshirts. It was often said of members of the SA that they were like a beefsteak--"brown on the outside, and red on the inside"--because many of them were former Communists. Brown represented the Nazi vote on maps of electoral districts in Germany. A vote for Nazis was "voting brown". The national headquarters of the Nazi party, in Munich, was called the Brown House. The Nazi seizure of power in 1933 was called the Brown Revolution.[7] At Adolf Hitler's Obersalzberg home, the Berghof, he slept in a "bed which was usually covered by a brown quilt embroidered with a huge swastika. The swastika appeared on Hitler's brown satin pajamas, embroidered in black against a red background on the pocket."[8]
  • "Brown" is a common surname, as are the equivalent words in other European languages.


  1. ^ first attested in The Metres of Boethius 26. 58, ca. AD 1000: stunede sio brune yd wid odre "One dark wave dashed against the other".
  2. ^ His hare [was] like to the nute brun, quen it for ripnes fals dun "his hair was like the nut brown, when for ripeness it falls down", Cursor M. 18833, ca. AD 1300, cited after OED.
  3. ^ "The burned and scorched superficies [of roast meat], the brown we call it." Robert Burton, The anatomy of melancholy(1651), p. 232.
  4. ^ "Some Experiments on Color", Nature 111, 1871, in John William Strutt (Lord Rayleigh) (1899). Scientific Papers. University Press.,M1.  
  5. ^ Maerz and Paul A Dictionary of Color New York:1930 McGraw-Hill Page 191
  6. ^ "Glossary of Terms for Brownfields" (PDF). HSRC.'origin%20of%20term%20brownfields'. Retrieved 2006-05-25.  
  7. ^ Toland, John Hitler: The Pictorial Documentary of his Life Garden City, New York:1978 Doubleday & Sons Chapter 5 "The Brown Revolution" Pages 42-60
  8. ^ Infield, Glenn B. Eva and Adolf New York:1974--Grosset and Dunlap Page 142 (The author compiled this book by interviewing Albert Speer and others who had been in Hitler's inner circle, such as SS men, secretaries, and housekeepers. The author consulted the Musmanno Archives, a record of post-war interviews with 200 people close to Adolf Hitler or Eva Braun.)
  9. ^ Card showing list of bandana colors and their meanings from Gay City USA Hanky Codes:]

See also


Redirecting to Brown


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