Brown is a color term, denoting a range of composite colors produced by a mixture of orange, red, rose, or yellow with black or gray. The term is from Old English brún, in origin for any dusky or dark shade of color. The first recorded use of brown as a color name in English was in 1000. The Common Germanic adjective *brûnoz, *brûnâ meant both dark colors and a glistening or shining quality, whence burnish. The current meaning developed in Middle English from the 14th century.
The adjective is applied to naturally occurring colors, referring to animal fur, human hair, human skin pigmentation (tans), partially charred or carbonized fiber as in toasted bread and other foods, peat, withered leaves, etc.
In terms of the visible spectrum, "brown" refers to high wavelength (low frequency) hues, yellow, orange, or red, in combination with low luminance or saturation. Since brown may cover a wide range of the visible spectrum, composite adjectives are used such as red brown, yellowish brown, dark brown or light brown.
As a color of low intensity, brown is a tertiary color: a mix of the three subtractive primary colors is brown if the cyan content is low. Brown exists as a color perception only in the presence of a brighter color contrast yellow, orange, red, or rose objects are still perceived as such if the general illumination level is low, despite reflecting the same amount of red or orange light as a brown object would in normal lighting conditions.
Famous quotes containing the word brown:
“Freedom is poetry, taking liberties with words, breaking the rules of normal speech, violating common sense. Freedom is violence.”
—Norman O. Brown (b. 1913)
“Oh, little brown girl, born for sorrows mate,
Keep all you have of queenliness,
Forgetting that you once were slave,
And let your full lips laugh at Fate!”
—Gwendolyn B. Bennett (19021981)
“in the brown baked features
The eyes of a familiar compound ghost
Both intimate and unidentifiable.”
—T.S. (Thomas Stearns)