Color Thesaurus Entry: Purple

Real World Comparisons


Turnip skin
$5000 Poker chip
Blueberry Cheesecake


Red onion
Red Cabbage
Barney the dinosaur
Grimmace (McDonalds)
Purple Heart medal
Jacaranda Trees


Concord Grapes
Grape Jello
Grape jelly
Klingon Blood
Sea Urchins
Passion fruit
Acai berry
Grape Kool-aid

Shades of Purple:

Mauve, lilac, heliotrope, violet, lavender, concord, plum, amaranthine

Make every detail count

Colors are powerful descriptors, not fillers. Make sure that if you use a comparison or contrast to highlight a color, you choose the right one. Look at the setting and atmosphere you are working to create, then draw from the viewpoint character or narrator's history, education and past experiences to find the right fit.

A poor example:

Jen sank to the sandy floor of the vineyard with a contented sigh. Great purple clumps hung heavy from the branches, their violet vibrance calling her, but she'd had enough. Her hands were stained indigo and her face was sticky with concord goodness. She gave her heliotrope fingers a final lick and closed her eyes to rest.

What's wrong with this example?

The descriptions are too strong for this passage. The over-described colors overpower the simple picture of a grape-stuffed girl in a vineyard. This passage gives new meaning to the phrase "purple prose".

A strong example:

Millie tied the cords on the princess's cloak and stepped back to look her over. Her lilac dress was without blemish or wrinkle, just brushing the floor. She was too young for much jewelry, so Millie had adorned her hair with pale lavender orchids. The violet ribbon at her throat was the same shade as her velvet cloak--the royal cloak of the Humphrey family. Millie gave a crisp nod. The princess may be young yet, but there would be no doubting she was heir to the throne.

Why is this example better?

The color in this passage is symbolic--symbolic of something flamboyant and extravagant. As such, the descriptions should match. The color should be emphasized in such a passage.


Keri Mikulski said...

Thanks!! :) Love these posts!!!

PJ Hoover said...

Your color entries are my new favorites!

Windsong said...

Lovely! I like how you went into the different shades! *hugs purple*

Mary Witzl said...

I love that bad example. I'm pretty sure I've been bored by a few books with descriptions like that.

And I love purple!

giddymomof6 said...

Ooh! that was fun! I love purple. This post was cute, even the bad example was hilariously wonderful. Thanks for posting. Jenni

Angela said...

Thanks everyone. I am a big pruple fan. Go Purple!!

C.R. Evers said...

my favorite color! very thorough . . . once again!

Angela said...

wow you've really expanded!

Lisa_Gibson said...

Is periwinkle more purple or blue? Maybe more of a bluish. Hmmmm, love the list. Great idea.

Anonymous said...

uh, heliotrope is a shade of yellow.

Angela Ackerman said...


Heliotrope is a purple flower:


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