No one could see the color blue until modern times (??)

March 2, 2015 @ BusinessInsiderUK & MoC
A friend sent this article from Business Insider.
We read some of these stories which are being circulated in the web, and as native Greek speakers, we’d like to ask and comment the following cause we find these stories misleading and confusing:
One perhaps should inform these people that the term “κυανός” /kianos/ i.e. “cyan” (you know CYAN as in CMYK??) is an Ancient Greek word, originally meaning “dark blue” (in Modern Greek is “light blue”).

Ancient Greeks also used the term “γλαυκός” /γlafkós/ meaning pale blue, mainly sky or sea blue, the color “γlafkó”.

It’s true, we haven’t re-read the Odyssey since we were in high-school (we can go through it any time though if need be), and we haven’t meticulously counted all the color terms in it, but still, the fact that Homer, a poet, used the description mentioned in the article (“sea as dark wine”) in Odyssey, doesn’t really mean that people back then couldn’t perceive the blue color; and Homer was blind anyway. But Homer was a poet, and poets, you know, are free to describe things anyway they wish, that’s what poets are for! Rationalism kills poetry and art and it’s such a poor approach. If one counted on fauvist painters to tell them about the natural world, what would one say then about their black skies, blue suns, purple tree trunks etc?

Also, just because a 1858’s UK scholar counted 200 blacks and 150 whites in Odyssey it doesn’t mean Ancient Greeks “lived in murky and muddy world, devoid of color, mostly black and white and metallic, with occasional flashes of red or yellow”, and it certainly doesn’t make Gladstone an authority to say ancient Greeks lacked color terms for blue.

Last, one should add that the term “sky blue” is one of the most fundamental in many (ancient) languages, for the SKY was (and is) so important to so many (the ancient/tribal) people!

Now, if you go through a (modern) dictionary or vocabulary or list word of some moribund language or dialect (or any other widely spoken language whatsoever) prepared, relatively recently, by some linguist in some remote place (or not), in all chances you won’t find terms like “purple”, “pink”, “orange” etc. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the language/idiom/dialect doesn’t include a term for these meanings, but most probably that the linguist conducting the research didn’t care to include these terms in the dictionary/vocabulary/list word, making future researchers scratch their heads about why these terms are not listed and if people were/are blind to these colors…

We copy/past the following from the Dictionary of Standard Modern Greek

κυανός -ή -ό [kianós] : (λόγ.) γαλάζιος. || (ως ουσ.) το κυανό, το κυανό χρώμα.
kianos-i-o: (adj, masc/fem/neut) galazios-a-o (i.e. bright blue) (adj. cyan)|| (as noun) kiano (neutral): the cyan color
[λόγ. < αρχ. κυαν(οῦς) `σκούρος μπλε΄ μεταπλ. -ός κατά τα άλλα επίθ. για προσαρμ. στη δημοτ. (πρβ. και μσν. κυανός)]
(ancient: kianous : “dark blue”; later : kianos)

γλαυκός -ή -ό [γlafkós] : ανοιχτός γαλάζιος, απόχρωση κυρίως του ουρανού ή της θάλασσας. || (ως ουσ.) το γλαυκό, το γλαυκό χρώμα.
[λόγ. < αρχ. γλαυκός]
glaukos-i-o (γlafkós) (adj. masc/fem/neut): bright “galazio”, mainly the color of the sky or the sea || (as noun) γlafkó:  the color γlafkó
[ancient: γlafkós]


Noθευμένα Χρώματα

January 31, 2015 @ Palo

Στα χέρια της αστυνομίας βρίσκεται ένας 51χρονος ιδιοκτήτης χρωματοπωλείου στην Αττική που διακινούσε νοθευμένα οικοδομικά χρώματα γνωστών εταιρειών του εμπορίου. Ο 51χρονος νόθευε το περιεχόμενο γνησίων χρωμάτων γνωστών εταιρειών του εμπορίου με άλλα υλικά και στη συνέχεια το τοποθετούσε σε παραποιημένα δοχεία που έφεραν πλαστογραφημένα σήματα των εταιρειών.


Harma(a), Rød & Red

April 13, 2014 @ MoC

For a Greek lady it is a flattering if you say, “You look HARMA!” for /h:arma/ in Greek means “fine”, “great”. Greeks also say, “HARMA ofthalmon[=eyes]”, equivalent to the English “A feast for the eyes”. However, /harma/ wouldn’t be so flattering for a Finnish lady, for HARMAA in Finnish means GRAY.
And one more thing, if you ever find yourself in Denmark, watch out, RED is the “road” and/or “roadstead”, not the color red; the RED COLOR in Danish is “rød”.

Akase +

June 27, 2013 @ MoC


“Akasha” is a Sanskrit word meaning “sky”, “space” or “aether”. Hence the “Akashic Records”, a popular term, which are said to be a collection of wisdom that is stored in the aether (aether being the 5th element, related to the 5th chakra: throat, and the sky).

In Nepali now, akas is the sky, akase is the sky blue.

In Greek there are many terms for the sky blue, “galazio” comes first, then “ourani (literally “sky color”), and also “ciel” (from Italian “cielo” for sky); “cyano” (=>) also implies this same bright blue color.

The Golden Apple

 May 10, 2013 @ MoC

What exactly do we mean when we refer to “golden apples”, a common idiomatic expression. Is it “oranges” and “quinces”, is it “Eris” and “discord”, or is it “immortality”? The golden apples appear in many national folk legends and fairy tales… Some are briefly reviewed here:
Τhere’s also the Biblical, “Like golden apples set in silver is a word spoken at the right time”.

golden apple


Your dye is not selling anymore

June 20, 2013 @ MoC

Greeks still say “Your dye is not selling” when referring to somebody who lost their prestige and/or charm, who is not influential anymore and even for a deceiver that nobody’s trusting them now. And for old ladies who for all the makeup cannot be charming as they used to be when young.

The idiom comes from ancient and medieval times when women would sell home made cosmetics and accessories, door to door. When the products of some seller would become very popular among women buyers for their quality etc, then women would say to the other sellers “Your dye is not selling”