Color Symbolism and Meaning of Brown

What is the meaning of brown? Is it the impersonal neutral of office carpeting? Is it the rich, supportive warmth of oak flooring? Do we find meaning in the withered leaves that mark the impending winter? Brown is everywhere, begging us to interpret its tones.

Meaning Of Brown: Explained

Whether you root for the Cleveland Browns or pick out the brown M&Ms, there’s no escaping the rich, warm tones of earthy brown. It’s a grounded color – the hue of trees, soil, and the landscape in winter.

But what do we really know about brown and its effect on us?

Physical Effects

Brown is a relaxing color. It’s been linked to an increase in tryptophan (related to sleep and our immune systems) and serotonin (linked to mood.) Brown typically gives us warm, settled feelings, reminding us of connections to earth, home, and family.

Brown is a humble color that functions as a warm neutral, providing an earthy balance for more vibrant tones.

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Symbolism And Meaning Of Brown

Brown is a symbol for winter, the dormant time after autumn’s splendor and the tender shoots of spring. It’s the color of soil – provider of nutrients for the food we grow. Brown is a humble color, the hue of recycled paper, and brown functions as a warm neutral, providing an earthy balance for more vibrant tones.

Meaning of Brown Words
Meaning of Brown Defined

Positive Associations

We associate brown with fallen leaves and Thanksgiving. It’s the color of a perfectly cooked turkey and dependable, reliable UPS. We connect brown to coffee, to warm spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, and with golden, sun-kissed skin. Brown is hearth and home, and it’s the color of our roots and of history.

Color meaning of brown - dependability, stability, solid, reliable, and approachable.

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Negative Associations

We tend to associate brown with death, with the end of the year when we’re tired of cold weather and shorter days. Since brown is a neutral, much of its meaning comes in comparison with other colors: It’s the opposite of green’s vitality, and it’s far more rooted and practical than ethereal turquoise or cheerful pink. Brown can be a staid, even boring color, though it’s value as a contrast and balance for strident hues is essential.

Brown Color Morsels

The brown recluse spider has incredibly potent venom, but they are very shy and typically escape, rather than biting humans. They live for 2-3 years, and females can produce as many as 250 spiderlings.

Browned butter is made by heating butter until the milk proteins cook and turn brown. It’s sometimes called beurre noisette, which is French for hazelnut butter because of the fragrant, nutty aroma browned butter possesses. Browned butter is a rich, complex component of many delicious dishes.

Brown thrashers are songbirds that are difficult to spot – due to their mottled brown color – but they are beautiful to listen to. They have a more varied song than most bird species.

Brown Words, Phrases And Idioms

  • Brown sugar: partially refined sugar
  • Brown bagging: to bring a homemade packed lunch to work
  • Brown out: a partial loss of electrical power or consciousness; Latinos under-represented in the television industry. [See Three Types of Brownout]
  • Brownstone: a building made out of dark colored sandstone
  • In a brown study: describing someone as being in deep thought

More About The Meaning Of Brown

Title - What's Behind the Color Name Brown

Brown As A Signature Color

A signature color is different than a favorite color although for some people they many be one and the same. It is all in how you express yourself with a color and how consistently you wear it or surround yourself with the color that makes it your signature shade.

  • Stephin Merritt - the singer-songwriter who always wears brown says, "The great thing about brown is when it fades, you can’t tell what color it originally was. There’s no sense of the “right” color saturation."

Cities With Color Names: Brown

  • Brown City, Michigan
  • Browndell, Texas
  • Brownfield, Maine
  • Browning, Missouri
  • Browns Valley, Minnesota
  • Brownsboro Farm, Kentucky
  • Brownsdale, Minnesota
  • Brownsmead, Oregon
  • Brownsville, Texas
  • Brownton, Minnesota
  • Brownwood, Texas
  • Old Brownsboro Place, Kentucky
Cities with Color Name

Songs With Brown in the Title

  • Big, Bad Leroy Brown - Jim Croce
  • Brown Eyes - Lady Gaga
  • Big Brown City - Lynn Miles
  • Brown Chicken Brown Cow - Trace Adkins
  • A Boat Like Gideon Brown - Great Big Sea
  • Bobbie Brown Goes Down - Frank Zappa
  • Bring Back That Leroy Brown - Queen
  • Brown Eyed Girl - Van Morrison
  • Brown Eyed Handsome Man - Chuck Berry
  • Brown Eyed Pickle Boy - Tripping Daisy
  • Brown Sugar - The Rolling Stones
  • Mrs. Brown You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter - Herman’s Hermits
Songs with Brown in title or lyrics

Color And Our Sense Of Smell: Brown

It’s not just emotion that makes scent powerful. It’s closely tied to your memories, as well. Smell also plays a major role in our ability to taste. When combined with color those connections become even stronger.

  • The international study, published in PLoS One, used standardized procedures to measure the odor-color connection found that people largely agreed that the fruity scent smelled like pink and red, while the musty scent smelled orange and brown.
  • The brown colored Magic Scents Crayons labeled "Chocolate" from Binney & Smith Inc. was originally scented to smell like chocolate candies. However, after numerous reports that children were "eating" the food-scented crayons the company changed to less tasty options. The scent for the color brown became “Dirt.”

Brown And The Sense Of Taste

There are five basic groups of taste, which send signals to our brain to interpret flavor. However, we also send signals with our eyes before we take a bite and give our taste buds a chance to process the flavor. The color can pre-determine how we perceive the taste and flavor of what we eat.

  • Tasting coffee is an art form. To detect the most amount of flavor from the coffee bean, it must be tasted properly. Coffee tasting works much like wine tasting. As in wine tasting, coffee tasting has special terms used to describe the taste of coffee and its perfect balance. – Passion for Coffee

The Color Brown In The Garden

Chocolate Brown Flowers
  • Brown is considered a neutral color in landscape design and is often used as a background color. Its appearance helps to showcase other colors in the garden.
  • Brown can add depth to a small garden. It can also be used to showcase particular areas of a larger garden.
  • The popularity of chocolate brown plants and flowers in the garden and floral arrangements continues to grow.

Discover More About The Meaning Of Colors

Color Symbolism and Meaning of Red
Color Symbolism and Meaning of Black
Color Symbolism and Meaning of Gray
Color Symbolism and Meaning of Pink
Color Symbolism and Meaning of Green
Color Symbolism and Meaning of Orange
Color Symbolism and Meaning of White
Color Symbolism and Meaning of Purple
Color Symbolism and Meaning of Yellow
Color Symbolism and Meaning of Blue

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Talk to Us About The Color Brown

We'd enjoy knowing what you love about the color brown or what you most enjoyed about this article. We love hearing from you and read every comment.

Is there something that you know about brown that should be included here? Great! We’d love to hear from you. Share what you know about the color brown by leaving a comment below. We may just add it to the information shared on this page.

Read Time: 6 min
  • Zanele says:

    I like brown colour every time when I buy clothes I buy brown colour

  • Ogu Dorathy says:

    Hi i have read through this article of what colour brown stands for and it’s equivalent, and i think that it has a clear explanation on what colour brown really stands for.

    Am so happy and delighted about this.

    Thanks a lot for the hint and the enlightenment you have bestowed on me.

    Wishing you all the best and many more good things ahead.



  • Chloe Iacovou says:

    I’d like to reference this awesome article. What year was this published?

    • Kate Smith says:

      Originally in 2000 but it was first published online at the end of 2004. I have updated it many times since that time because people keep “borrowing” it in whole or part for their websites. 🙂

  • Alex Taylor says:

    You should add a lot more for each color, including alternative meanings of the color… For example, purple, it can also be associated with chaos and disorder.

    • Kate Smith says:

      Yep so many things I should. I’ll make note to consider this to become one more of those things. Thx for the comment Alex.

  • Ann says:

    United Parcel Service, the global shipping company that uses brown vans and whose employees wear brown uniforms.

  • Abraham says:

    thanks for helping me out with meanings of colours.

    • Kate Smith says:

      You’re welcome. I’m glad you found my website helpful!

  • Also dont got which “UPS” did you mean?

  • I love brown, and love your article too.
    My best color is orange but I dont choose it for my clothes, but use dark orange as brown 🙂
    I got that it match my personality in many cases.
    REALLY enjoy it!!!

    • Kate Smith says:

      Thanks, Mahdi. Orange is not a color everyone wears well so enjoy flaunting your best color.

  • Mercy says:

    This is amazing! brown is my best color and these just describe my person. i never knew why i like brown, now i know. thank you.

    • Kate Smith says:

      Great to hear that the description fits.

  • marvelous

  • Anshu says:

    Thanks so much for sharing… these informations with us

    • Kate Smith says:

      You’re welcome, Anshu. Thanks for the nice message.

  • I love your posts about colors. I read them time to time. Thanks for sharing.

    • Kate Smith says:

      I’m so glad you enjoy the articles. Thank you for stopping by and for leaving a comment.

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