Swedish Language Blog

15 Swedish Color Words Posted by on Aug 31, 2015 in Swedish Language, Vocabulary

I grew up in Colorado, where every fall the aspen change colors and the mountains explode in red and orange and yellow. It’s an impressive sight that doesn’t last long before the cold comes, the leaves fall, and everyone and everything waits for the snow. But when the air gets a little crisper, I’m always reminded of the beautiful fall colors.

Luckily, you can find plenty of aspen (and birch) in Sweden and experience those colors. Of course, you may also want to be able to describe those colors. With that in mind, let’s take a look at 15 color words in Swedish that will help you describe the fall colors (and plenty of other colors as well):

Obestämd Bestämd
Singular – En Singular – Ett Plural Singular – En Singular – Ett Plural English
blå blått blåa blåa blåa blåa blue
brun brunt bruna bruna bruna bruna brown
grå grått gråa gråa gråa gråa gray
grön grönt gröna gröna gröna gröna green
gul gult gula gula gula gula yellow
lila lila lila lila lila lila purple
orange orange orange orange orange orange orange
röd rött röda röda röda röda red
rosa rosa rosa rosa rosa rosa pink
svart svart svarta svarta svarta svarta black
vit vitt vita vita vita vita white

Remember that colors, when used as adjectives, are going to change depending on the noun they are describing. We’ve written a lot about adjectives and you can find a good recap of the grammar about Swedish adjectives here, but that’s why you’ll notice the variations in the list above.

What if you want to describe shades of those colors above? No problem. Just like in English, you just tag on dark or light. But, because Swedish loves compound words, you want to make sure that you spell it as one word.

mörk    =          dark
ljus      =          light

The dark red leaves against the light blue sky is a really beautiful contrast. In Swedish, “dark red leaves” translates to “mörkröda löv” and the “light blue sky” translates to “ljusblå himmel“.

When those mountains are dotted in oranges and yellows and reds and greens, I’m always reminded of the beautiful Swedish words meaning colorful. Because Swedes love compound words, you’ll sometimes find some absolutely beautiful combinations when you translate them piece-by-piece from Swedish to English. Two of my favorites happen to mean colorful:

färgrik             =          colorful
färgglad          =          colorful

Literally, färgrik translates to color rich. Färgglad translates to color happy.

There you have it. Fifteen new color words in Swedish. Enjoy those fall colors!

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About the Author: Marcus Cederström

Marcus Cederström has been writing for the Transparent Swedish Blog since 2009. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Scandinavian Studies from the University of Oregon, a Master's Degree in Scandinavian Studies from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and a PhD in Scandinavian Studies and Folklore from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He has taught Swedish for several years and still spells things wrong. So, if you see something, say something.


  1. Stephen:

    You say that “dark red leaves” translates to “mörkröd löv”.
    However the table says “red” in indefinite plural form is “röda”.
    So shouldn’t it be “mörkröda löv”?

    I’m confused (which I am quite often currently, because I just started learning Swedish) 😉

    • Marcus Cederström:

      @Stephen Good catch. Typo on my part, sorry about that!

  2. VeeChaos:

    Hey, I was wondering… is there any particular moment you use fägrik and färgglad? Or are they one and the same?

    By the way, I love your work here. It helps me a lot to understand the things I’m missing while learning on duolingo.

  3. Maria Carolina:

    Hey, Marcus

    First, I want to thank you for this table, it helped me a lot, but there is something that is making me confuse. Like, I’m studying swedish through Duolingo and in one of their exemples, they said “saltet är vitt”.

    Saltet is the definite singular form of salt, right? Shouldn’t it be “saltet är vita”? Or I’m missing something here?

  4. Marcus Cederström:

    In “saltet är vitt,” vitt is being used as a predicative adjective so you don’t use the definite form there. Basically, it just means the adjective is modifying the subject. So “vitt” is modifying “saltet” in the example that you gave.

    For example:
    Jag äter det vita saltet. I am eating the white salt.


    Saltet är vitt och jag äter det. The salt is white and I am eating it.

    Both are referencing white salt but doing so in slightly different ways.

  5. Helen Whalley:

    What do you mean by obestämd and bestämd? Thanks