Can you help me sort out some English language terminology?

asked 2015-05-26 17:24:54 -0400

Can you help me sort of some English language terminology?

I am writing a piece about the names we give colors. It is, as I'm sure you know, a hopelessly muddled topic. There are color dictionaries that contain thousands of color names, but research indicates that are only 11 that almost everyone agrees on (white, black, grey, brown, pink, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple).

So where do color names come from?

The most common source is name a color according to the name given to something of that is of that color: asparagus green, lemon yellow, etc.

I'm wondering if there is a term of art that describes that naming process.

There is also a process whereby a color is named according to the place where it is presumed to have been produced, or where objects of that same color are often produced. Examples: Venetian red, Turkey red, Canton Blue.

Is there a term of art for that naming process?

And finally: the more prevalent source for new names today is the whims of a marketing department. Somebody at Ral Lauren needs to distinguish between two different shades of green, so he calls one of them "Andover Green" and the other "Groton Green". I'm tempted to call that "idiosyncratic naming", but I wonder if any of you can come up with a better descriptor.

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