The Meaning of Colours in a Dream

How colourful are your dreams?  The more practiced you get at recalling your dreams, the more likely you are to remember vivid colours in them.  When you dream in colour it is often a  sign that you are actively engaged with your imaginations, and that you are feeling more “fully alive,” noticing the richness of life around you even when awake. This is likely to carry over to your sleep and dreams.  People who work in very visual fields, such as artists, graphic designers, fashion designers, merchandisers, interior decorators and film makers often have very colourful dreams. So too, do people who pay close attention to the world around them, such as writers, journalists, naturalists, surveyors, scientists or anyone with an interest in the world.  Children, who are very inquisitive and imaginative, frequently dream in colour.

Sometimes you may have a dream where a particular colour really stands out.  It may be that something is the wrong colour, such as the sky being green, an elephant being pink or blood being blue instead of red.  Or it may simply be that you are left with a very strong impression of a colour that seemed to “wash” through the dream.  A lingering sense of golden light, or a deep purple richness.  Or it could be that you didn’t notice anything else in the dream even was coloured, apart from one key thing. It may be the shiny red apple, the person’s startlingly blue eyes, or the bright orange shirt you were wearing.

Depending on how these colours appear in your dreams, they can have different meanings.  You can start by looking for puns, jokes or common phrases.  Seeing blue coloured blood might mean literally “blue blooded” and be a reference to nobility, your own noble qualities, a sense of birthright etc.  Pink elephants may refer to being drunk, or as a symbol to be “intoxicated,” maybe with your sense of infatuation with a new love, or a love of life.  Something appearing the wrong colour may be an indication that something you are considering is unlikely or improbable; or alternatively, that something you thought was impossible may be actually happening or about to happen.  For example “that will only happen when the grass turns blue and the sky turns green.”  Other common colour associated phrases include:

  • The “green eyed monster” for jealousy, or being “green with envy”
  • The “blue eyed child” as a symbol of a favourite, or one who has received blessings
  • The “scarlet lady” (may have scarlet, skin, hair or clothes) who represents wickedness, an affair or sexual freedom depending on your point of view
  • “White as a sheet” to indicate fear or shock
  • “Grey/Silver haired” to symbolise age, wisdom and experience
  • Going through a “purple patch” when everything seems to be going well
  • “Tickled pink” to be very pleased when something is working out

Beyond phrases, colours can have very individual meanings.  These may be positive or negative, or somewhere in between.  A colour does not have any intrinsic meaning of its own, it has only the meaning we give to it.  So in order to understand colours in our dreams, it can help to ask:

  • What feelings does this colour produce in me?
  • What does this colour remind me of?
  • Where am I seeing a lot of this colour in my life?  Or where in my life is this colour missing?
  • What other things in my life that are important to me are also this colour?

As you work with your dreams over time, you may start to notice when colours re-appear.  Do you always dream of something red when you are falling in love?  Something yellow when you are going through a creative period?  When we notice our own patterns, we can start to recognise the unique messages our dreams are giving us, and develop our understanding of our own secret dream language.

Depending on your own culture, colours can have very different meanings. Some cultures get married in red, for example, and some have funeral processions in white. National symbolism can be associated with colours, such as the “red white and blue” of the American flag, the Union Jack and the Australian flag.

Colours can also have more personal associations. You may an association with a particular political party, a sports team or uniform, for example. It is always useful to reflect on your own personal associations with a colour to gain insight to your dream meaning to begin with.  Beyond the personal, there are qualities that are often associated with colours, although many of these can be quite contradictory. Looking at context within the dream, and then relating this to your own waking life will help reveal what this colour is symbolising to you at this time.

Common colour symbolism:

Red: anger, passion, life-blood energy, power, vitality, danger, warning, stop-sign, sexuality, confidence, flashy, intense, blood energy loss, war, desire, aggression, wrath, excitement; Socialism, Communism, Labour (political)
Yellow: creative, positive, optimistic, sunny, happiness, coward, shame, expectations, overload, stimulation, intellect, play-fullness, sickly, hazardous, childish, simple, caution, aged, vintage
Orange: vitality, earthiness, change, health, strength, endurance, heat, invigoration, appetite, action, balance, flamboyance, attention seeking, warmth
Green:growth, newness, fertility, freshness, money, wealth, inexperience, envy, jealousy, greed, sickness, toxic, stagnant, mouldy, fulfilling, healing, peace, planting, environment, ecology, go (“green light”), eternal life (“evergreen”) good luck
Blue: clarity, openness, authority, friendliness, sadness (having the “blues”), depression, stability, trust wisdom, masculine, corporate, reliable, mental, spirituality, heaven, truth, obscenity, new ideas (“blue sky”), tradition, serene, classic, serious, professional, tranquil, cool, cold; Liberal, Conservative (political)
Purple: royalty, authority, weird, alternative, unusual, power, luxury, wealth, extravagant, wisdom, mystery, magic, gloomy, artificial, outrage, bruised, ceremony, arrogance, sensual, braveness (purple heart), spiritual
White: innocence, pure, clean, untouched, vacant, faith, medicine, impersonal, spiritual, light, hope, peace, bleach, drained of colour, artificial, pristine, washing, sterile
Black: formal, elegance, prestige, mystery, unknown, fear, mourning, grief, night, unknown, power, dread, foreboding, bad mood, potential, opportunity, anonymous, rebellion, anarchy
Pink: soft, feminine, gentle, newborn, helpless, romantic, mild, child-like, flirtation, blushing, embarrassment, pleasure, innocent, health, love
Brown: earthiness, strong, natural, dull, home, outdoors, dirt, endurance, solid, reliable, disgusting, nature, rustic, tradition, wholesome, simple, rough, hand made
Grey: age, conformity, boring, constricted, dull, maturity, respect, humility, neutral, inoffensive, oppressive, man-made, mechanical, city, old age, boredom, unsettling, expectant, moody, wisdom
Silver: intuition, magic, age, wisdom, illusion, purification, serenity, hopeful (“silver lining”) valuable, second best, pride
Gold: wealth, success, prestige, status, superficial, fake, culmination, extravagance, high quality, value, glory, divine, winner

Sometimes an object will appear in colour just to make sure we notice it.  It can be a bit like our dreams highlighting the text with a fluorescent marker pen, or getting a giant arrow and pointing saying “notice this!”  If colour is used like this in our dreams, we would do well to pay attention to both the object itself, and the colour of it.

It is only by looking at what is going on in our lives, and what other symbols and feelings are to be found in the dream, and then by applying our own intuition, that we can really start to understand colours in our own dreams.  And even once we know what a colour means in one dream, we may find, just like the appearance and then disappearance of a rainbow, that this meaning will change in the next dream.  It all depends on how we feel, and what other associations we make in our waking lives.

You may also be interested in:

The meaning of eyes in a dream

The meaning of trees, plants and flowers in a dream

Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

7 thoughts on “The Meaning of Colours in a Dream

  1. I was meditating and a little girl came to me and placed a yellow sheet on my lap.
    she then said you should be wearing yellow. she was as real as you or me but then she vanished.

  2. I dreamt that I turned my head and in that moment hit a man in a brand new vibrant blue sweatshirt with my car. I woke up and yelled in fright! There was a component likely linked to my shopping cart being blown into another car that day but the man and the electric blue sweatshirt I’m not sure about…maybe something to do with my dad who is now passed? The man was Asian in my dream and I’m not sure what that means. He was an older man and totally non threatening.

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