all Colour Connotation instalments
connotation: noun. an idea or feeling that a word invokes in addition to its literal or primary meaning


yellow, art, and paint image dog, yellow, and house image flowers, sunflower, and yellow image yellow, honey, and aesthetic image yellow, sky, and aesthetic image yellow and theme image
meanings: happiness, fear, positivity, decay, clarity, enlightenment, loyalty, cowardice, destruction, optimism, remembrance, joy, energy, freshness, deceit, creativity, hazard, philosophy, madness, dishonesty, idealism, hope, jealousy, envy, imagination, betrayal, illness, panic, wealth, nobility

Art, Film, and Literature

Examples of yellow in art:

  • The Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh (painting) - enlightenment, joy, hope
  • The Shining by Stanley Kubrick (film) - madness, panic, fear
  • The Great Gatsby by Scott F. Fitzgerald (book) - wealth, materialism, social status

Vincent Van Gogh is a renowned artist who is very well know for his exorbitant use of yellow in his paintings. His famous Sunflowers painting is all different shades of yellow and nothing else. It is widely debated whether he was colourblind and actually saw most of the world in varying shades of yellow or he just really dug the yellow. The Starry Night was one of the twenty-one paintings of the view from his room in a mental asylum where he was recovering from mental illness and his ear amputation. Most of his paintings were created during his recovery. He used painting to communicate his hope and optimism for the future.

Yellow has many uses in film. It is mostly used to convey enlightenment and clarity or happiness and idealism. However, in Kubrick's The Shining, yellow is a prominent colour in the axe scene. It projects the feelings of panic and isolation the audience is feeling and supports the theme of manic, uncontrollable madness. It's also used to create a sepia tone which invokes feelings of nostalgia and age or help focus the attention on the plot rather than the setting.

Yellow (and gold) is the most important and noticeable colour in Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. Yellow represents affluence, influence, and high social status. It's seen in nearly everything in Gatsby's life. His yellow car, his yellow ties, even his golden toilet. He surrounds himself with wealth and material things to win Daisy's love and the yellow is a physical manifestation of that. He thinks the way to gain her love is to be rich and powerful. It's also set during the Jazz Age or the Roaring 20's where wealth was an excessive and a predominant theme. Daisy is described as a "golden girl". She is constantly seen in gold and yellow clothing. It represents her greed and desire for wealth. She cares about his money but not Gatsby himself. Yellow also foreshadows destruction and tragedy at the end of the novel. He is described as disappearing into the yellowing autumn leaves which symbolism the death and decay that is about to take place.


In Greek mythology, gods and goddesses are mostly depicted with golden yellow hair and their ichor (lifeblood) was a brilliant gold. This is thought to represent their power and divinity. Another major theme in Greek mythology is the golden apple tree that's guarded by Ladon, a hundred-headed dragon. The apples were a gift from Gaia to her children Hera and Zeus as a wedding present. They are desired by mortals and gods alike for their ability to grant immortality.

In Norse mythology, yellow is associated with two major gods, Thor and his wife Sif. Thor is the god of thunder and conflict as well as the guardian of Asgard, the home of the Norse gods. Sif is the goddess of protection and excellence in battle. She's also the protector of abused women and those that are wounded in battle. She had hair made of gold after Loki (god of mischief) cut her hair off as a joke and her husband, Thor, demanded Loki replace her hair with the finest gold thread. Yellow is also a preferred colour of Surtur, the god of fire, and Odur, the god of travel.

In Egyptian mythology, yellow is associated with the sun god Ra. He is sad to ride on his chariot and bring the day with him every cycle. Egyptian women were depicted with yellow-toned skin (men had reddish-brown skin) to differentiate between the sexes and to show that women were precious, associating their skin to gold and Ra.


In Christianity, yellow is representative of the archangel Michael, the angel of all angels and leader of Heaven's army. He is associated with the Sun, Sundays, and Autumn. However, in the bible, yellow most significantly represents faith and the Glory of God.

In Hinduism, yellow symbolises knowledge, learning, happiness, meditation, and peace. It's also associated with Spring. Yellow clothes are worn during spring and yellow food is eaten during Spring festivals. It's also thought to ward off evil spirits and activate the mind.

In Buddhism, yellow is the colour of restraint, nourishment, and detachment from material desires. It was originally the colour worn by criminals but the Buddha chose to wear it to signify that he was faithful and humble.


In Egypt, yellow can mean happiness and good fortune in modern times but it's also used to mourn the dead and used to be used to paint mummies and tombs to make sure royalty and those of high social status were blessed with wealth and luxury in the afterlife.

In China, the colour yellow is associated with pornographic content. A "yellow book" or "yellow picture" refers to magazines and pictures of pornography.

In Germany, yellow symbolises envy and greed.

In France, yellow has an even worse meaning. It's typically used to represent jealously, betrayal, and weakness. In the 10th century, the doors of criminals were painted yellow.

In Japan, warriors were given yellow chrysanthemums (flowers) to represent the royal family and as a show of their courage and strength.


Most yellow logos are food brands. It triggers hunger which will make consumers more likely to buy a food product. The qualities that people most commonly associate with yellow and yellow logos are courage, fear, frugality, fun, quality, reliability, security, speed, and trust. Yellow is largely identified with childhood and joy. Companies benefit the most by using yellow if they're selling a fun, enjoyable, and fast product. Yellow is rarely used in marketing or logos for products targeted specifically at men because it is subconsciously seen as an immature colour by most men.

Examples of yellow logos:

  • McDonalds
  • Lay's
  • Snapchat
  • Walmart
  • IMDb

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