Col"or (?), n. [Written also
colour.] [OF. color, colur, colour,
F. couleur, L. color; prob. akin to celare
to conceal (the color taken as that which covers). See
Helmet.] 1. A property depending on
the relations of light to the eye, by which individual and
specific differences in the hues and tints of objects are
apprehended in vision; as, gay colors; sad colors,
☞ The sensation of color depends upon a peculiar
function of the retina or optic nerve, in consequence of which
rays of light produce different effects according to the length
of their waves or undulations, waves of a certain length
producing the sensation of red, shorter waves green, and those
still shorter blue, etc. White, or ordinary, light consists of
waves of various lengths so blended as to produce no effect of
color, and the color of objects depends upon their power
to absorb or reflect a greater or less proportion of the rays
which fall upon them.
2. Any hue distinguished from white or
3. The hue or color characteristic of
good health and spirits; ruddy complexion.
Give color to my pale cheek.
4. That which is used to give color; a
paint; a pigment; as, oil colors or water
5. That which covers or hides the real
character of anything; semblance; excuse; disguise;
They had let down the boat into the sea, under
color as though they would have cast anchors out of the
Acts xxvii. 30.
That he should die is worthy policy;
But yet we want a color for his death.
6. Shade or variety of character; kind;
Boys and women are for the most part cattle of
7. A distinguishing badge, as a flag or
similar symbol (usually in the plural); as, the colors or
color of a ship or regiment; the colors of a race
horse (that is, of the cap and jacket worn by the
In the United States each regiment of infantry and
artillery has two colors, one national and one
8. (Law) An apparent right; as
where the defendant in trespass gave to the plaintiff an
appearance of title, by stating his title specially, thus
removing the cause from the jury to the court.
☞ Color is express when it is averred in
the pleading, and implied when it is implied in the
Body color. See under Body.
-- Color blindness, total or partial
inability to distinguish or recognize colors. See
Daltonism. -- Complementary color,
one of two colors so related to each other that when blended
together they produce white light; -- so called because each
color makes up to the other what it lacks to make it white.
Artificial or pigment colors, when mixed, produce effects
differing from those of the primary colors, in consequence of
partial absorption. -- Of color (as
persons, races, etc.), not of the white race; -- commonly
meaning, esp. in the United States, of negro blood, pure or
mixed. -- Primary colors, those
developed from the solar beam by the prism, viz., red, orange,
yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet, which are reduced by
some authors to three, -- red, green, and violet-blue. These
three are sometimes called fundamental colors. --
Subjective or Accidental
color, a false or spurious color seen in some
instances, owing to the persistence of the luminous impression
upon the retina, and a gradual change of its character, as where
a wheel perfectly white, and with a circumference regularly
subdivided, is made to revolve rapidly over a dark object, the
teeth of the wheel appear to the eye of different shades of color
varying with the rapidity of rotation. See Accidental
colors, under Accidental.