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The Meanings of Yellow

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Yellow's global similarities are significant:

In almost every culture yellow represents sunshine, happiness, and warmth.

Yellow is the color most often associated with the deity in many religions (Hinduism and Ancient Egypt)

Yellow is the color of traffic lights and signs indicating caution all over the world.

Unique Meanings of Yellow in Different Cultures

In Japan, yellow often represents courage.

In China, adult movies are referred to as yellow movies.

In Russia, a colloquial expression for an insane asylum used to be "yellow house."

Bright “marigold” yellow may be associated with death in some areas of Mexico.

Those condemned to die during the Inquisition wore yellow as a sign of treason.

A yellow patch was used to label Jews in the Middle Ages. European Jews were forced to wear yellow or yellow “Stars of David” during the Nazi era of prosecution.

Designing with Yellow

Although there are strong mustard yellows and deep yellow ochres, there are no dark yellows.


How Yellow Affects Vision

Yellow is the most visible color of the spectrum.

The human eye processes yellow first. This explains why it is used for cautionary signs and emergency rescue vehicles.

Peripheral vision is 2.5 times higher for yellow than for red.

Yellow has a high light reflectance value and therefore it acts as a secondary light source.  Excessive use of bright yellow (such as on interior walls) can irritate the eyes.

Myths About the Effects of Yellow

It is not true that babies cry more in yellow rooms, or that yellow causes diarrhea, or that husbands and wives fight more in yellow kitchens.

Tidbits - Points to Ponder

U.S. law prohibits coloring margarine to look like butter.


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