A Quick Reference to Colors in Klingon

In November 2010, with the release of Talk Now! Eurotalk Klingon, we got a whole bunch of new words and expression, and with them quite a few new expressions concerning colours. These new expressions have been included below.

Let’s begin with this color cheat sheet by Roger Cheesbro:

There is no noun in Klingon meaning “color”, but there is a verb nguv which means be dyed, stained, tinted. This word is seldom used without the suffix -moH (as in quS nguv­moH He stains the chair) except in the phrase chay’ nguv How is it tinted? (The usual way of asking what color something is.) [KGT p.82]

Klingon English Source
nguv be dyed, be stained, be tinted (v) [KGT]

There are only four distinct words for different colors (including qIj black and chIS white) in Klingon. These, for the most part, are all that is used in everyday language – there is rarely any need for more, since there are almost always other ways than hue to distinguish between objects.

Klingon English Source
Doq be orange, be red (v) [TKD]
SuD be green, be blue, be yellow (v) [TKD]
chIS be white (v) [TKD]
qIj be black (v) [TKD]
Hurgh be dark (v) [TKD]
wov be light, be bright (v) [TKD]
The Klingon basic color words.

One way of being more specific is to use the -qu’ emphatic suffix, this has the advantage that the word still can be used adjectivally (as in for example HIq Doq­qu’ red liquor) this can not be done with the other lengthier methods of describing colors.

Klingon English Source
Doq­qu’ “a color more red than orange” (v) [KGT p.82]
SuD­qu’ “would probably be described as ‘green’” (v) [KGT p.82]
Expressing colors with the -qu’ emphatic suffix.

One may also use the words for light and dark to describe colors in whole sentences (such as SuD ’ej wov for it is SuD and light – ’ach but is also heard instead of ’ej). To describe yellow tea, a sentence like SuD­bogh Dargh ’ej wov­bogh The tea that is SuD and light would be used.

Klingon English Source
SuD ’ej wov or SuD ’ach wov “a yellowish tinge” [KGT p.82]
SuD ’ej wov or SuD ’ach wov light blue [Eurotalk]
Doq ’ej wov­be’ brown [HQ8:1 p.7; Eurotalk]
Doq ’ej wov or Doq ’ach wov light red or orange NON-CANON
SuD ’ej Hurgh or SuD ’ach Hurgh dark blue [Eurotalk]
Doq ’ej Hurgh or Doq ’ach Hurgh brown or brownish NON-CANON
Doq­qu’ ’ej wov or Doq­qu’ ’ach wov pink [Eurotalk]
SuD­qu’ ’ej wov or SuD­qu’ ’ach wov light green NON-CANON
SuD­qu’ ’ej Hurgh or SuD­qu’ ’ach Hurgh dark green NON-CANON
Doq­qu’ ’ej Hurgh or Doq­qu’ ’ach Hurgh dark red NON-CANON
qIj ’ej wov or qIj ’ach wov gray [Eurotalk]
Expressing colors using wov be light, bright and Hurgh be dark.

The color violet, or purple, is not actually a Klingon color. Klingon for the Galactic Traveler has the following to say on the subject: “The fact that neither SuD nor Doq includes what is called ‘violet’ or ‘purple’ in Federation Standard may be related to Klingon physiology—that is, exactly how the Klingon eye processes different wavelengths of light.” [KGT pp.82–83]

Irregardless of this, the color purple was still included in the Eurotalk language course (which had a decidedly Earth-centric view, e.g. including names of several Terran countries for example):

Klingon English Source
Doq ’ej SuD violet or purple Eurotalk
A non-Klingon color. Klingons probably cannot perceive the “violet” or “purple”. [KGT p.82; Eurotalk]

Generally, when one needs to be more specific, the item in question is compared to something else that typically has this color. Here is a table of such expressions given to us in canon.

Klingon English Source
Doq ’ej beq­puj rur be Doq and resemble bekpuj
(a common mineral that is bright orange)
[KGT p.82]
Doq ’ej Qaj wuS rur be Doq and resemble kradge lips
(lips of the kradge are a particular shade of brown)
[HQ8:1 p.7]
Expressing colors with similies.

If you want to know more about how colors are expressed in different languages, and how this relate to Klingon, read the article “Klingon Colours” by Nick Nicholas, published in Klingon Language Institute’s quarterly journal Hol­QeD 5:2 (). The further explanation of the color brown can also be found in Hol­QeD 8:1 () in an article called “Maltz Online”.

Hol­QeD may be purchased from The Klingon Language Institute.