|Hex triplet #FFC0CB|
CMYK (c, m, y, k) (0, 20, 14, 0)
|sRGB (r, g, b) (255, 192, 203)|
HSV (h, s, v) (350°, 25%, 100%)
Pink is a pale red color which takes its name from the flower of the same name. According to surveys in Europe and the United States, pink is the color most often associated with charm, politeness, sensitivity, tenderness, sweetness, childhood, femininity, and the romantic. When combined with white, it is associated with innocence. When combined with violet or black, it is associated with eroticism and seduction.
- Etymology and definitions
- From prehistory to post classical history
- Early Modern
- Late Modern
- Why sunrises and sunsets sometimes look pink
- Why cooked beef cured ham steamed shrimp and salmon are pink
- Plants and flowers
- Pigments Pinke
- Common associations and popularity
- Pink in other languages
- Idioms and expressions
- Food and beverages
- Social movements
- Academic dress
- The press
Pink was first used as a color name in the late 17th century.
Etymology and definitions
The color pink is named after the flowers called pinks, flowering plants in the genus Dianthus. The name derives from the frilled edge of the flowers—the verb "to pink" dates from the 14th century and means "to decorate with a perforated or punched pattern" (possibly from German pinken, "to peck"). While the word "pink" was first used as a noun to refer to a color in the 17th century, the verb "pink" continues to be reflected today in the name of those hand-held scissors that cut a zig-zagged line referred to as pinking shears.
From prehistory to post-classical history
The color pink has been described in literature since ancient times. In the Odyssey, written in approximately 800 BCE, Homer wrote "Then, when the child of morning, rosy-fingered dawn appeared..." Roman poets also described the color. Roseus is the Latin word meaning "rosy" or "pink." Lucretius used the word to describe the dawn in his epic poem On the Nature of Things (De rerum natura).
Pink was not a common color in the fashion of the Middle Ages; nobles usually preferred brighter reds, such as crimson. However, it did appear in women's fashion, and in religious art. In the 13th and 14th century, in works by Cimabue and Duccio, the Christ child was sometimes portrayed dressed in pink, the color associated with the body of Christ.
In the high Renaissance painting the Madonna of the Pinks by Raphael, the Christ child is presenting a pink flower to the Virgin Mary. The pink was a symbol of marriage, showing a spiritual marriage between the mother and child.
During the Renaissance, pink was mainly used for the flesh color of faces and hands. The pigment commonly used for this was called light cinabrese; it was a mixture of the red earth pigment called sinopia, or Venetian red, and a white pigment called Bianco San Genovese, or lime white. In his famous 15th century manual on painting, Il Libro Dell'Arte, Cennino Cennini described it this way: "This pigment is made from the loveliest and lightest sinopia that is found and is mixed and mulled with St. John’s white, as it is called in Florence; and this white is made from thoroughly white and thoroughly purified lime. And when these two pigments have been thoroughly mulled together (that is, two parts cinabrese and the third white), make little loaves of them like half walnuts and leave them to dry. When you need some, take however much of it seems appropriate. And this pigment does you great credit if you use it for painting faces, hands and nudes on walls..."
The 18th century
The golden age of the color pink was the Rococo Period (1720–1777) in the 18th century, when pastel colors became very fashionable in all the courts of Europe. Pink was particularly championed by Madame de Pompadour (1721–1764), the mistress of King Louis XV of France. who wore combinations of pale blue and pink, and had a particular tint of pink made for her by the Sevres porcelain factory, created by adding nuances of blue, black and yellow.
While pink was quite evidently the color of seduction in the portraits made by George Romney of Emma, Lady Hamilton, the future mistress of Admiral Horatio Nelson, in the late 18th century, it had the completely opposite meaning in the portrait of Sarah Barrett Moulton painted by Thomas Lawrence in 1794. In this painting, it symbolized childhood, innocence and tenderness. Sarah Moulton was just eleven years old when the picture was painted, and died the following year.
The 19th century
In 19th century England, pink ribbons or decorations were often worn by young boys; boys were simply considered small men, and while men in England wore red uniforms, boys wore pink. In fact the clothing for children in the 19th century was almost always white, since, before the invention of chemical dyes, clothing of any color would quickly fade when washed in boiling water. Queen Victoria was painted in 1850 with her seventh child and third son, Prince Arthur, who wore white and pink.
The 20th century
In the 20th century, pinks became bolder, brighter, and more assertive, in part because of the invention of chemical dyes which did not fade. The pioneer in the creation of the new wave of pinks was the Italian designer Elsa Schiaparelli, (1890-1973) who was aligned with the artists of the surrealist movement, including Jean Cocteau. In 1931 she created a new variety of the color, called Shocking pink, made by mixing magenta with a small amount of white. She launched a perfume called Shocking, sold in a bottle in the shape of a woman's torso, said to be modelled on that of Mae West. Her fashions, co-designed with artists such as Cocteau, featured the new pinks.
In Nazi Germany in the 1930s and 1940s, inmates of Nazi concentration camps who were accused of homosexuality were forced to wear a pink triangle. Because of this, the pink triangle has become a symbol of the modern gay rights movement.
The transition to pink as a sexually differentiating color for girls occurred gradually, through the selective process of the marketplace, in the 1930s and 40s. In the 1920s, some groups had been describing pink as a masculine color, an equivalent of the red that was considered to be for men, but lighter for boys. But stores nonetheless found that people were increasingly choosing to buy pink for girls, and blue for boys, until this became an accepted norm in the 1940s.
The US presidential inauguration of Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1953 when Eisenhower's wife Mamie Eisenhower wore a pink dress as her inaugural gown is thought to have been a key turning point to the association of pink as a color associated with girls. Mamie's strong liking of pink led to the public association with pink being a color that "ladylike women wear." The 1957 American musical Funny Face also played a role in cementing the color's association with women.
In 1973, Sheila Levrant de Bretteville created "Pink," a broadside (poster) meant to explore the notions of gender as associated with the color pink, for an American Institute of Graphic Arts exhibition about color. This was the only entry about the color pink. Various women including many in the Feminist Studio Workshop at the Woman's Building submitted entries exploring their association with the color. De Bretteville arranged the squares of paper to form a "quilt" from which posters were printed and disseminated throughout Los Angeles. She was often called "Pinky" as a result.
Christo and Jeanne-Claude's Surrounded Islands wrapped wooded islands in Miami's Biscayne Bay with 6,500,000 sq ft (600,000 m2) of bright pink fabric. Thomas von Taschitzki has said that "the monochrome pink wrappings"..."form a counterpoint to the small green wooded islands."
Many of Franz West's aluminium sculptures were often painted a bright pink, for example Sexualitätssymbol (Symbol of Sexuality). West has said that the pink was intended as an "outcry to nature".
Red is the only color whose lighter shades have a different name, pink, than the color itself. In optics, the word "pink" can refer to any of the pale shades of colors between bluish red to red in hue, of medium to high lightness, and of low to moderate saturation. Although pink is generally considered a tint of red, the hues of most variations of pink are slightly bluish, and lie between red and magenta. A few variations of pink, such as salmon color, lean toward orange.
Why sunrises and sunsets sometimes look pink
As a ray of white sunlight travels through the atmosphere, some of the colors are scattered out of the beam by air molecules and airborne particles. This is called Rayleigh scattering. Colors with a shorter wavelength, such as blue and green, scatter more strongly, and are removed from the light that finally reaches the eye. At sunrise and sunset, when the path of the sunlight through the atmosphere to the eye is longest, the blue and green components are removed almost completely, leaving the longer wavelength orange, red and pink light. The remaining pinkish sunlight can also be scattered by cloud droplets and other relatively large particles, which give the sky above the horizon a pink or reddish glow.
Why cooked beef, cured ham, steamed shrimp and salmon are pink
Raw beef is red, because the muscles of vertebrate animals, such as cows and pigs, contain a protein called myoglobin, which binds oxygen and iron atoms. When beef is cooked, the myoglobin proteins undergo oxidation, and gradually turn from red to pink to brown; that is, from rare to medium to well-done. Pork contains less myoglobin than beef and therefore is less red; when heated, it changes from pinkish-red to less pink to tan or white.
Ham, though it contains myoglobins like beef, undergoes a different transformation. Traditional hams, such as prosciutto, are made by taking the hind leg or thigh of a pig, covering it with sea salt, which removes the moisture content, and then letting it dry or cure for as long as two years. The salt (sodium nitrate) permits the ham to retain its original pink color, even when dried out. Supermarket hams are made by a different and faster process; they are brined, or infused with a salt-water solution, containing sodium nitrite, which transfers nitric oxide, which bonds with the myoglobin to form the traditional pink cured ham color.
The shells and flesh of crustaceans such as crabs, lobsters and shrimp contain a pink carotenoid pigment called astaxanthin. Their shells, naturally blue-green, turn pink or red when cooked. The flesh of the salmon also contains astaxanthins, which makes it pink. Farm-bred salmon are sometimes fed these pigments to improve their pinkness, and it is sometimes also used to enhance the color of egg yolks.
Plants and flowers
Pink is one of the most common colors of flowers; it serves to attract the insects and birds necessary for pollination and perhaps also to deter predators. The color comes from natural pigments called anthocyanins, which also provide the pink in raspberries.
Pigments - Pinke
In the 17th century, the word pink or pinke was also used to describe a yellowish pigment, which was mixed with blue colors to yield greenish colors. Thomas Jenner's A Book of Drawing, Limning, Washing (1652) categorizes "Pink & blew bice" amongst the greens (p. 38), and specifies several admixtures of greenish colors made with pink—e.g. "Grasse-green is made of Pink and Bice, it is shadowed with Indigo and Pink … French-green of Pink and Indico [shadowed with] Indico" (pp. 38–40). In William Salmon's Polygraphice (1673), "Pink yellow" is mentioned amongst the chief yellow pigments (p. 96), and the reader is instructed to mix it with either Saffron or Ceruse for "sad" or "light" shades thereof, respectively.
Common associations and popularity
According to public opinion surveys in Europe and the United States, pink is the color most associated with charm, politeness, sensitivity, tenderness, sweetness, softness, childhood, the feminine, and the romantic. Although it did not have any strong negative associations in these surveys, few respondents chose pink as their favorite color. Pink was the favorite color of only two-percent of respondents, compared with forty-five-percent who chose blue. Pink was the least-favorite color of seventeen percent of respondents; the only color more disliked was brown, with twenty percent. There was a notable difference between men and women; three percent of women chose pink as their favorite color, compared with less than one percent of men. Many of the men surveyed were unable to even identify pink correctly, confusing it with mauve. Pink was also more popular with older people than younger; twenty-five percent of women under twenty-five called pink their least favorite color, compared with only eight percent of women over fifty. Twenty-nine percent of men under the age of twenty-five said pink was their least favorite color, compared with eight percent of men over fifty.
In Japan, pink is the color most commonly associated with springtime due to the blooming cherry blossoms. This is different from surveys in the United States and Europe where green is the color most associated with springtime.
Pink in other languages
In many languages, the color pink is the name of the rose flower; like rose in French; roze in Dutch; rosa in German, Latin, Portuguese, Catalan, Spanish and Italian; rozoviy in Russian; różowy in Polish; and گلابی gulabi in Urdu (and in English 'rose', too, often refers to both the flower and the color).
In the Japanese language, the traditional word for pink, momo-iro (ももいろ), takes its name from the peach blossom. There is a separate word for the color of the cherry blossom: sakura-iro. In recent times a word based on the English version, pinku (ピンク), has begun to be used.
In Chinese, the color pink is named with a compound noun 粉紅色, meaning "powder red" where the powder refers to substances used for women's make-up.
Idioms and expressions
Early pink buildings were usually built of brick or sandstone, which takes its pale red color from hematite, or iron ore. In the 18th century - the golden age of pink and other pastel colors - pink mansions and churches were built all across Europe. More modern pink buildings usually use the color pink to appear exotic or to attract attention.
Food and beverages
According to surveys in Europe and the United States, pink is the color most associated with sweet foods and beverages. Pink is also one of the few colors to be strongly associated with a particular aroma, that of roses. Many strawberry and raspberry-flavored foods are colored pink and light red as well, sometimes to distinguish them from cherry-flavored foods that are more commonly colored dark red (although raspberry-flavored foods, particularly in the United States, are often colored blue as well). The drink Tab was packaged in pink cans, presumably to subconsciously convey a sweet taste.
The pink color in most packaged and processed foods, ice creams, candies and pastries is made with artificial food coloring. The most common pink food coloring is erythrosine, also known as Red No. 3, an organoiodine compound, a derivative of fluorone, which is a cherry-pink synthetic. It is usually listed on package labels as E-127. Another common red or pink (particularly in the United States where erythrosine is less frequently used) is Allura Red AC (E-129), also known as Red No. 40. Some products use a natural red or pink food coloring, Cochineal, also called carmine, made with crushed insects of the family Dactylopius coccus.
In Europe and the United States, pink is often associated with girls, while blue is associated with boys. These colors were first used as gender signifiers just prior to World War I (for either girls or boys), and pink was first established as a female gender signifier in the 1940s. In the 20th century, the practice in Europe varied from country to country, with some assigning colors based on the baby's complexion, and others assigning pink sometimes to boys and sometimes to girls.
Many have noted the contrary association of pink with boys in 20th-century America. An article in the trade publication Earnshaw's Infants' Department in June 1918 said:
The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.
One reason for the increased use of pink for girls and blue for boys was the invention of new chemical dyes, which meant that children's clothing could be mass-produced and washed in hot water without fading. Prior to this time, most small children of both sexes wore white, which could be frequently washed. Another factor was the popularity of blue and white sailor suits for young boys, a fashion that started in the late 19th century. Blue was also the usual color of school uniforms, for boys and girls. Blue was associated with seriousness and study, while pink was associated with childhood and softness.
By the 1950s, pink was strongly associated with femininity but to an extent that was "neither rigid nor universal" as it later became.
One study by two neuroscientists in Current Biology examined color preferences across cultures and found significant differences between male and female responses. Both groups favored blues over other hues, but women had more favorable responses to the reddish-purple range of the spectrum and men had more favorable responses to the greenish-yellow end of the spectrum. Despite the fact that the study used adults, and both groups preferred blues, and responses to the color pink were never even tested, the popular press represented the research as an indication of an innate preference by girls for pink. The misreading has been often repeated in market research, reinforcing American culture's association of pink with girls on the basis of imagined innate characteristics.
Toys aimed at girls often display pink prominently on packaging and the toy themselves. In its 1957 catalog, Lionel Trains offered for sale a pink model freight train for girls. The steam locomotive and coal car were pink and the freight cars of the freight train were various pastel colors. The caboose was baby blue. It was a marketing failure because any girl who might want a model train would want a realistically colored train, while boys in the 1950s did not want to be seen playing with a pink train. However, today it is a valuable collector's item.
As of 2008 various feminist groups and the Breast Cancer Awareness Month use the color pink to convey empowerment of women. Breast cancer charities around the world have used the color to symbolize support for people with breast cancer and promote awareness of the disease. A key tactic of these charities is encouraging women and men to wear pink to show their support for breast cancer awareness and research.
Pink has symbolized a "welcome embrace" in India and masculinity in Japan.
As noted above, pink combined with black or violet is commonly associated with eroticism and seduction.
Pink is often used as a symbolic color by groups involved in issues important to women, and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual people.
The word pink is not used for any tincture (color) in heraldry, but there are two fairly uncommon tinctures which are both close to pink:
Pink is used for the newsprint paper of several important newspapers devoted to business and sports, and the color is also connected with the press aimed at the gay community.
Since 1893 the London Financial Times newspaper has used a distinctive salmon pink color for its newsprint, originally because pink dyed paper was less expensive than bleached white paper. Today the color is used to distinguish the newspaper from competitors on a press kiosk or news stand. In some countries, the salmon press identifies economic newspapers or economics sections in "white" newspapers. Some sports newspapers, such as La Gazzetta dello Sport in Italy, also use pink paper to stand out from other newspapers. It awards a pink jersey to the winner of Italy's most important bicycle race, the Giro d'Italia. (See #Sports).