Color Yellow Meaning: Symbolism and Meaning of the Color Yellow

Yellow is the color of the mind, intellect, and optimism

This article is about the color yellow meaning and symbolism, which is part of the Color Meaning Series.

For more hues, check out the meaning of the colors.

Summary of the meanings of the color yellow
Color yellow meanings

Yellow. An impactful spirit. The color yellow is a wildly fascinating hue with many facets.

The brightest color of the spectrum, yellow is associated with sunshine, sunflowers, canaries, and bees.

But what does the color yellow mean?

Yellow is an upbeat and cheerful hue that boosts self-assurance. It evokes pleasant feelings, captivating and charming with ease.

It’s an effective communicator and provides clarity. Still, it also is a controversial color, as we will learn in this article.

Without further ado, let’s talk about the color yellow meanings and symbolism.

Symbolism of yellow

Because color psychology and color symbolism are two very distinct things, it is important to explain both their meanings.

Color psychology is the subconscious effect the colors have on us. It’s something that is out of our control.

For instance, it is when you perceive a drawing of a slice of blue bread to be less flavorful than a creamy colored one.

On the other hand, color symbolism is an ambiguous term as the symbolism of each color changes in every culture.

Yellow means life, sunflowers

Yellow color meanings in other cultures

  • In Brazil, yellow symbolizes intellect, communication, but also wealthy. Locals wear yellow/gold during New Year’s Eve to attract money in the new year to come.
  • In India, yellow means good fortune for merchants.
  • In Japan, yellow represents courage.
  • In Islam, yellow is the color of wisdom.
  • In Egypt, yellow conveys happiness but also mourning.
  • In Greece, yellow is considered a negative color.
  • In Mexico, yellow is also a color of mourning.
  • In Russia, yellow is used to describe the sensationalist press.

Now, let’s dive into the psychological meanings of the color yellow.

Color yellow meaning

Yellow is one of the happiest colors of the spectrum. It has an illuminating essence, it is fun, and it has some level of innocence resonating strongly with children.

This can be seen in toys, which many times are yellow.

In short, yellow is a cheerful color that conveys youthful, fresh energy. It is the color of optimism and is associated with confidence and success.

Beyond that, yellow gives energy and is a dynamic color that motivates quick decision making.

Within the meaning of the colors, yellow is the color of friendliness, fun, creativity, and enlightenment.

It is an excellent color for networking events because it encourages communication too.

Yellow means happiness, smileys
Happiness, one of the most recognized meanings of the color yellow

Beyond that, yellow is a practical color that instills analytical thinking and is believed to stimulate the left side of the brain, helping with clear thinking, enhancing creativity, and helping to find logical solutions.

For instance, think of the yellow light bulb that, in many cultures, means to have a new, brilliant idea.

Yellow is curious and creative, but it makes sure to keep us grounded.

It is one of the best colors to stimulate mental activity and activate memory. (1)

Physical effects of yellow

  • Affect mood – Yellow rooms tend to cause irritation in people. According to W. Newton Suter, professor at the University of Arkansas, “students’ behavior is negatively affected in yellow rooms.”
  • Energize – It is perceived as a high-energy color and, therefore, often used in products intended to create a sense of excitement.
  • Stimulates mental activity – The color highlights what’s important and increases the analytical processes.
  • Sharpens memory and attention – People are more likely to remember an object in a warm color, such as yellow, than in a cool color. (2)
  • Encourages communication – Because it is an open, outgoing, and optimist color, yellow encourages communication. It is an excellent color for networking events.
Yellow means communication, meeting room

More meanings of the color yellow

If there is a color that represents the mind, intellect, communication, and new ideas, that color is yellow.

Yellow is the communicator, the scientist, the entertainer.

In branding, it is one of the best colors to use in highlights because it draws attention.

After red, yellow is the most attention-getter color, and you can see it in many places that require attention.

For example, this color is used in taxis, traffic lights, warning signs, and traffic signs.

Oddly enough, the color yellow is unaffected by emotions. It relates strongly to awareness, leaving no room for exaggerated feelings.

Yellow is the practical thinker, not the dreamer. Yellow is non-emotional, coming from the head rather than the heart.

Yellow means creativity, light bulb

Despite being associated with happiness, yellow has plenty of conflicting associations too.

That’s because yellow means cowardice, caution, and physical illness, which is quite contradictory to its positive traits.

The meaning of the color yellow can also be instability, betrayal, and impulsiveness.

It can cause one to be over-critical, jealous, fearful, emotionally fragile, deceptive, impatient, egoist, pessimist, and emotionally cold.

When overused, yellow is disturbing, inducing anxiety and causing the loss of focus.

Yellow is often used as a highlight color, getting attention to important points and details rather than being the whole message.

Personality color yellow

Is yellow your favorite color? Yellow represents communicative people who enjoy mental challenges. Yellow is dynamic but calculated. 

If that’s your favorite color, you might want to read about the personality color yellow.

Variations of the yellow

Light yellow: A versatile color, light yellow is connected to freshness, new ideas, joy, but also with a lack of confidence.

  • Light yellow hex color: #FFFDD0

Yellow: It is associated with uplifting feelings, life, and cheerfulness. It is a bold and commanding color.

  • Bright yellow hex color: #FFFF00

Dull/dingy yellow: It is a muted color associated with caution, sickness, and jealousy. The color is made from yellow and black only.

  • Dull yellow hex color: #808000

Golden yellow: It is associated with wealth, luxury, success, and achievement.

  • Gold hex code: #FFD700

Additional shades of yellow

Shades of yellow
Shades of yellow

Gold, saffron, lemon, cream, mustard, mellow yellow, yellow ocher, banana, aureolin, cadmium, canary, minion, safety, titanium, cyber, chrome, amber, pineapple, bumblebee, blonde, flaxen, corn, butter, honey, peach, goldenrod, freesia

Most common uses of yellow

Yellow is often used as an accent color to get people’s attention to something important.

  • Road maintenance equipment
  • School buses and taxicabs
  • Warning signs
  • Toys
  • Food industry
  • Products associated with speed, fun, and low cost

Companies and brands that use yellow in their logo

Yellow is used to promote items related to leisure, children’s products, food, transportation, and travel.

About 13% of the top 100 world’s most valuable brands have yellow in their logo.

Yellow logos
Companies and brands that have yellow logos

Yellow chakra

Manipura chakra speaks to your ability to be confident and in control of life. It is represented by the color yellow.

Yellow gemstone

Gemstones are believed to have stimulating properties. Yellow gemstones encourage clarity, manifestation, wealth-building, and creating success. It also offers relief for people recovering from illness, burnout, panic, nervousness, or exhaustion.

Facts about yellow

  • Yellow is the only color that reacts badly to black. The result of mixing these colors is an unappealing yellow-greenish hue.
  • Men perceive yellow as a childish color, making it not the best color when marketing products to wealthy men. However, the color is also used in marketing for dynamic and speed-related products.
  • Although there are deep yellows, mustard yellow, and yellow ochres, there are no dark yellows.
  • Although yellow is distressing when overused, the claim that yellow rooms make babies cry more is a myth.
  • We perceive yellow as the brightest color in the spectrum because it is the result of the most considerable collective excitement the cones (red and green groups of cones) in your eyes will ever have aside from pure white.
  • Peripheral vision is higher for yellow than for red and green. (3)
  • Yellow has a high light reflectance value, acting as a secondary light source and helping to create an illuminated, “daytime feel.
  • Yellow is a primary color, but in the RGB color model, used for TVs and monitors, yellow is a secondary color made by combining red and green.

What does the color yellow mean in the Bible?

Yellow is one of the most significant colors in the Bible as it symbolizes faith, joy, his divine nature, and the glory of God.

Quotes about yellow

What a horrible thing yellow is.

Edgar Degas
Quote about yellow

You create your own decoration. You choose your color, you choose your mood. If you are depressed, you put on some bright yellow, and suddenly you are happy.

Philippe Starck
Quote about yellow

Some painters transform the sun into a yellow spot, others transform a yellow spot into the sun.

Pablo Picasso
Quote about yellow

How lovely yellow is! It stands for the sun.

Vincent Van Gogh
Quote about yellow

It is the color closest to light. In its utmost purity, it always implies the nature of brightness and has a cheerful, serene, gently stimulating character. Hence, experience teaches us that yellow makes a thoroughly warm and comforting impression.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Quote about yellow

Popular idioms about the yellow color

  • Yellow-bellied: It means to be cowardly or easily scared.
  • Yellow-dog contract: It is an agreement between an employer and an employee in which the employee agrees, as a condition of employment, not to be a member of a labor union.
  • Yellow streak: It means a person has a weak trait of cowardice.
  • Yellow journalism/press: It refers to media sources that use sensationalism and doesn’t report much real news with facts.
  • Yellow jack: It is an archaic term for yellow fever and a ship’s yellow quarantine flag.

Summary: Color yellow meaning

Yellow is the color of happiness and cheerfulness but also of the mind and intellect.

It is an expressive color that enhances creativity and helps with clear thinking.

Still, a color with such an impactful spirit also has negative traits. Yellow can induce anxiety and distress and cause people to be over-critical.

It’s an attention-getter color mostly used in highlights and details.

Yellow means: happiness, optimism, creativity, intellect
Effects of yellow: encourages communication, energizes, sharpens memory, stimulates mental activity
Positive traits: joy, enthusiasm, communicativeness, originality
Negative traits: cowardice, fear, betrayal, impatient

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