The 12 Coolest Crayola Color Names
By Linda Rosenkrantz
Most of us have memories of hours spent coloring with crayons, long before it became an adult fad. Not only were we mesmerized by the dazzling array of varied hues, but we were also introduced to some exotic color names. Now some of them have found their way onto birth certificates, in this new anything-goes baby name world.
The first Crayolas debuted in 1903, with eight basic colors—red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, brown and black—all for the price of a nickel. By 1949, the number had increased to 48, and by 1958, there were 64 colors in the “stadium seating” box. And the names became more and more varied and fanciful (Purple Pizzazz, Atomic Tangerine, Inchworm), eventually reaching a total of 120 colors, though 50 would be retired..
Here are 12 Crayola colors that could work for your baby.
Cerulean Blue was produced from 1949 to 1953, and then came back as just plain Cerulean in 1990. Through most of those years, this would have been seen as an outlandish baby name option, but its now on the table for adventurous namers. (Full disclosure: I have a nephew named Cerulean who was born in 2003 and is very happy with his name.)
In 2000, the crayon formerly known as “Thistle” was renamed Indigo—a much more baby-friendly choice. Indigo, a deep blue-purple hue, is appealing and evocative and, with its lively o-ending, makes a striking choice for both boys and girls; it has already been picked by a few celebs. Indigo is also a superheroine/villain in the DC Comics Universe, appearing on Supergirl.
Lavender appeared in the crayon box when the range was expanded in 1958. Part of the purple family of names, Lavender has not caught on the way cousin Violet has, though it shares the same soft and sentimental image. Some recent attention has come via the character of Lavender Brown, the Harry Potter witch, though it had previously appeared in Anne of Green Gables and Matilda.
On the Crayola spectrum since 1949 and named for an Italian town, the vivid Magenta is another Harry Potter name (remember eerie artist Magenta Comstock?) ripe for wider use, especially with its cool Mag nickname possibilities. In 1972 it was rechristened Hot Magenta.
Maize was produced from 1949 to 1990—sometimes called Gold or Golden Ochre—and replaced in 1990 by Dandelion. Maize pops up as a baby name possibility every Thanksgiving, via its place on the holiday table, but has found few takers.
Olive was another of the 1949 batch, not surprising in the post-World War II era recalling military olive drab uniforms. With the massive success of Olivia, Olive has also been climbing the charts. A Top 100 name at the end of the 19th century, it’s now back up to #264 and climbing, used by Drew Barrymore, and Isla Fisher and Sacha Baron Cohen.
Orchid, too, was part of the 1949 Crayola expansion. This exotic bloom has always projected an image of swank and sophistication; in the language of flowers it symbolizes love and beauty. It could make an evocative middle, if not a daring first.
Plum joined the purple hue group in 1948 and has survived all the various color name purges. Plum is a wonderfully juicy and positive name, perfect as a middle choice, which is just what Moon Zappa made for her daughter Matilda.
Briefly known as “Torch Red,” Scarlet didn’t have a Crayola identity until 2000. As a name, it has been surpassed by the O’Hara/Johansson double-t version, which is a Top 25 name, but the color version spelling is still liked by enough parents (including Sylvester Stallone) to bring it to Number 376.
Burnt Sienna came on board in 1903, Raw Sienna in 1958—all long before Sienna was considered a feasible baby name. It derives from the color of the clay found in the Italian city and now, thanks in part to Sienna Miller, is up at Number 229 in the US, 17 in Australia, 20 in England and 71 on Nameberry. Kevin James and Ellen Pompeo both have daughters named Sienna.
Teal was an option from 1990 to 2003, when it was replaced by the jazzier Wild Blue Yonder. As a name, Teal has a lot to recommend it, being a bird name as well as a deep blue-green color. It would make an ideal middle name choice.
I remember as a child loving the evocative sound of Umber—especially when combined with the word Burnt. (Burnt Umber, Burnt Sienna). In names, Amber has been a constant on the popularity list, the smoldering Ember is now at Number 366—and Umber could be next.