meaning of the color yellow

Meaning of the Color Yellow – Explore the Sunshine Hue

Yellow can be described as one of the most radiant colors and is a color that stands out and catches your attention. In nature, yellow is quite prolific, from daffodils and sunflowers to lemons, canaries, egg yolks, and even the sun. In this article, we are going to discover the meaning of the color yellow and how it can affect you both mentally and physically!



Meaning of the Color Yellow

ShadeHex CodeCMYK Color Code (%)RGB Color CodeColor
Yellow#ffff000, 0, 100, 0255, 255, 0 

A yellow smiley face might be what pops up in your mind’s eye when you think of yellow, which portrays exactly what yellow is. Yellow symbolism means a happy, fun, optimistic, and positive color that can evoke feelings of warmth and energy. Yellow is a primary color when looking at the traditional color model and is one of the most visible colors in the light color spectrum.

yellow color meaning Yellow color meaning infographic. Click on the image to download a printable PDF.

The eye is drawn to yellow, which sits between green and orange and is the first color the eye will detect, which is why it is used for cautionary signs. Too much yellow can actually irritate the eyes. The color yellow is the main symbol of the sun and can evoke many feelings, both positive and negative.


Positive Traits of the Color Yellow

  • Happy
  • Positive
  • Energizing
  • Optimistic
  • Enthusiastic
  • Confident
  • Joyful
  • Friendship
  • Intellect
  • Creativity


Negative Traits of the Color Yellow

  • Jealousy
  • Betrayal
  • Illness
  • Cowardice
  • Duplicity
  • Egotism



Psychological Meaning of the Color Yellow

The glowing yellow hue can have amazing effects on our minds and emotions. Yellow is a warm and stimulating color that can help to provide mental clarity and can aid in producing feelings of confidence and joy. The cheerful color can help to uplift not only the mood but self-esteem as well. However, too much of the color yellow can be overstimulating, which can then produce irritation and anxiety. Understanding the meaning of the color yellow and how it affects us, can help us harness the power of this inspirational color.


Yellow Is Energetic

Yellow easily evokes feelings of positivity, joy, hope, and enthusiasm and easily uplifts the mood. The color yellow provides an optimistic outlook on perspectives and instills confidence in achieving success. The stimulating and energizing color can help combat lethargy and can help motivate, creating a feeling that you are ready for anything.

Yellow Symbolism


Yellow Is a Confidence Booster

The sunny and lively color can help to boost confidence and self-assurance. The cheerful and optimistic hue can turn negative thoughts and feelings around. Yellow is mostly associated with positive and pleasant things in life that bring happiness and joy. Consider a beautiful sunset, a field of sunflowers, or the turning of leaves in fall.

The color is the essence of goodness and is a color that children are often drawn to.


Yellow Encourages Communication

Since yellow evokes encouraging and positive feelings and provides an energetic charm, it is a great color to use at meetings or networking occasions. The color is very effective when you want to encourage collaboration. Yellow promotes interaction, and not only encourages communication but also helps assist with the process of expressing new ideas.

Yellow Symbolism in Personalities


Yellow Promotes Logical Thinking

Since yellow is mentally stimulating, it can help with improving memory and problem-solving skills. Yellow can also encourage better cognitive performance and promote a sense of curiosity. The color yellow helps to improve analytical thinking and uses more logic and intellect to come to a decision. It allows an objective viewpoint and helps make rational decisions, without too much emotional baggage getting in the way.

Seeing the color yellow can help you to think practically and stay grounded while trying to come up with unique and novel ideas. 


Yellow Encourages Creativity and Clarity

Even though yellow helps to promote logical thinking, it also enhances creative thinking and imagination so you can more easily come up with more innovative ideas. When you become stressed and thoughts become muddled, yellow can help to provide clarity and can bring back focus. It can help to dispel any mental confusion.

Yellow Symbolism and Creativity


Yellow Can Cause Anxiety

Yellow has many positive attributes, however, too much of it can become a problem. If you are overly exposed to the energetic yellow color, it can produce a sense of uneasiness, tension, and irritation. It can also cause anxiety and may produce an unhealthy amount of critical thinking. The mind becomes overactive and excitable, which can lead to nervousness and self-criticism.

Make sure to use yellow in smaller doses. Yellow can also be seen in other negative ways, it can have a connection to physical sickness, for example, yellow jaundice.



Personality Traits Associated With the Color Yellow

The various colors can be associated with the different personality types. For example, yellow personalities are positive, confident, fun, and enthusiastic people. If yellow dominates a color personality, then it can reveal certain traits, such as being creative, friendly, and optimistic. The minds of yellow personalities are quite active, and they tend to think more logically, choosing to make decisions with their minds and not their emotions or hearts.

Yellow personalities are analytical, independent, and methodical, which can turn into overthinking and perfectionism. This can also lead to thoughts of fear and anxiety.

Their best personality trait is having outstanding communication skills. They also love to tackle mental challenges and are great problem solvers. Even though yellow personalities think more logically, does not mean they are not fun and creative. On the contrary, they are sociable, playful, fun-loving, have a great sense of humor, and are often extremely popular.

Yellow Symbolism in Jobs

Those with yellow personalities also have great imagination and creativity, sometimes thoughts and ideas can be overwhelming. However, where others do not see a solution to a problem, yellow personalities will see this as an opportunity to come up with something new and unique. They are naturally curious and enjoy coming up with new ideas.

Negatively, yellow personalities can easily experience anxiety.

Many are perfectionists and can easily become agitated with themselves and others if set goals and expectancies are not met. Yellow personalities are sociable; however, they can also seem egotistical and arrogant. Some great career choices for this personality type include journalism, law, marketing, science and research, or something in public relations.



Physical Effects of Yellow on the Body

As a stimulating color, yellow helps to fire up the nervous system and is great for improving things like concentration and memory. Yellow is a color that influences the logical part of the brain, which can help with improving problem-solving skills, creativity, and inspiration. It also helps to improve communication and social skills or interaction with others.

Yellow is also one of the colors that can cause the brain to release serotonin, a chemical in the brain that helps you feel happy.

However, yellow is quite vibrant and reflects quite a lot of light. So, when yellow is used on a computer screen or even on paper, it can cause eye strain if used too much. Being an energetic color, yellow is also said to help increase metabolism.



The Color Yellow in Different Cultures

 Yellow is seen as a happy, warm, optimistic, and vibrant color all over the world. In most countries, yellow symbolism shows caution, being one of the colors that you find in a traffic light. In the United States and Canada, many families will leave yellow ribbons in their homes, which is a symbol of hope for those loved ones at war.

Yellow Symbolism in Cultures

Yellow is also often associated with transportation, for example, yellow taxis and school buses. However, there are also a few different meanings of the color yellow, in various cultures, which you can have a look at below.

  • Japan: Here, the color yellow is associated with nature and sunshine, but it can also represent courage.
  • China: The color yellow is seen as a royal or imperial color, which can represent power and prosperity. It can also represent good luck and freedom. Today, due to various influences, yellow might also be associated with pornography.
  • Russia: Yellow is a color of danger in Russia, but can also be associated with joy and happiness, and is often used in celebrations. In the past, mental institutions were often painted yellow, which produced the term, “yellow house”, meaning insane asylum.
  • Mexico: Yellow is the color of maize or corn, so it is a symbol of life. However, it is also associated with death. This meaning also includes areas like Egypt and other parts of Latin America.
  • France and Germany: In these countries, yellow represents weakness and jealousy.
  • Africa: The color yellow is mostly associated with wealth and success.
  • Thailand: In this country, yellow is thought to be a lucky color that is sacred.

In the past, yellow also played a role in different countries. Those condemned of treason during the Spanish Inquisition (1478 – 1834), were made to wear yellow. Also, during this time, Jews in Spain were made to wear yellow badges as a form of segregation. Muslims were also required to wear a blue badge. European Jews were also made to wear yellow during the persecution by German Nazis.



Meaning of the Different Shades of Yellow

ShadeHex CodeCMYK Color Code (%)RGB Color CodeColor
Lemon Yellow#fff7000, 3, 100, 0255, 247, 0 
Mustard#ffdb580, 14, 65, 0255, 219, 88 
Dark Yellow#d5b60a0, 15, 95, 16213, 182, 10 

Most shades of yellow have similar meanings, being happy, energizing, vibrant, and warm. However, softer shades of yellow can be more relaxing, while darker shades can provide a more sophisticated and earthy look. Just remember that too much yellow can be overwhelming, so rather use it in more subtle ways.


Lemon Yellow

This shade of yellow is vivid and intense and resembles the skin of the lemon fruit. The bright yellow also represents freshness, happiness, and summer, and can have an uplifting effect on your mood. Lemon yellow stands out beautifully against colors like navy blue and goes well with gray, greens, and soft pinks.

Lemon yellow will also look fresh, vibrant, and elegant in any combination.



Being a shade of yellow, mustard is also a warm and optimistic color. However, it also represents diversity and creativity. You either like or dislike the color, which can also seem reserved and might come across as proud. Mustard is a little more subdued than the brighter counterparts, but it might just be what you are looking for to add some color to a design without attracting too much attention.

Different Yellow Symbolism


Dark Yellow

Darker shades of yellow can represent the elegance of gold and the warmth of honey. Darker shades can also have an olive tone, which can evoke a sense of luxury and works wonderfully as an accent color in a design.

Dark yellow can also come across as being overbearing and sickly if used incorrectly.



Is Yellow a Chakra Color?

Chakras are an idea that stems from Hinduism and involves energy centers that are found in the body. There are seven core chakras, each represented by a particular color. When these chakras are not open and functioning optimally, you may experience certain emotional and physical problems. Many wellness practitioners who deal with chakras will then recommend various solutions to help create a balanced and open energy system. For example, they can recommend yoga or meditation.

Out of the seven core chakras, the solar plexus chakra corresponds to the color yellow. This chakra is located slightly above the navel, below the heart chakra (green), and above the sacral chakra (orange).

The solar plexus chakra is said to be the center of self-confidence, and success, and is the area that is linked to your identity. It can affect the digestive system, metabolism, and the adrenal glands and other organs nearby. The yellow chakra is stimulating and can help with feelings of happiness and joy. A few aspects it deals with include self-esteem, confidence, motivation, decision-making, and collaboration.

Yellow Symbolism in Health

Some of the consequences of a blocked chakra can include digestive issues, lack of confidence, unbalanced emotions, demotivation, depression, self-doubts, fatigue, high blood pressure, stomach ulcers, and liver issues, among others. A healthy solar plexus chakra helps to encourage clear thoughts, and self-worth and aids in delivering inner peace.

Consider color therapy, affirmations, and other techniques to help restore the yellow chakra.



Interesting Phrases, Idioms, and Famous Quotes About the Color Yellow

Since yellow is a color you either love or hate, it has gained a certain reputation that has produced various idioms and quotes. The quotes are a bit more favorable than the various associated sayings or idioms.


Phrases and Idioms About the Color Yellow

Many of the idioms related to the color yellow are not too positive. Even in the past, yellow has had a bit of a disapproving reputation. For example, in the early Christian church, yellow was often associated with Judas Iscariot, which presents feelings of cowardice and deceit. Below, you will find a few other yellow-related idioms.

  • Yellow-bellied: This is not a compliment and means being afraid or cowardly.
  • A yellow streak: Similar to the above, it means someone who is cowardly or fearful.
  • Follow the yellow brick road: When you decide to follow a path that leads to success or a great journey. This saying is taken from the movie, The Wizard of Oz (1939).
  • Yellow press: This is when you use journalism to create sensationalism and place the facts as secondary to a popular story.

Yellow Symbolism and Meaning


A Few Famous Yellow Quotes

There are more favorable quotes of the color yellow than idioms, as many focus on the sunny and happy side of the vibrant color. Many of these yellow quotes come from well-known artists and other celebrities.

  • “There is a sun, a light that for want of another word I can only call yellow, pale sulfur yellow, pale golden citron. How lovely yellow is!” by the famous artist Vincent Van Gogh (1853 – 1890).
  • “Some painters transform the sun into a yellow spot, others transform a yellow spot into the sun” by the painter Pablo Picasso (1881 – 1973).
  • “I really just want to be warm yellow light that pours over everyone I love” by American singer Conor Oberst (Born 1980).
  • “In the world of safe hues, like black, red, and white, yellow shouts: Look at me. I’m happy!” by Houston Chronicle columnist Joy Sewing (Born 1987).
  • “When you wear yellow you just have to go for it” by American-Nigerian fashion stylist Mobolaji Dawodu (1980).



Some Fun Facts About the Color Yellow

The vibrancy of yellow has been used in art for many years, as yellow ochre pigments were widely available. Yellow was even used by the Ancient Egyptians, who painted their gods with the color as it resembled gold. Let us have a look at some other fun details about the color yellow.

  • Many people have different kinds of phobias and fears, one of them being the irrational fear of the color yellow, known as xanthophobia.
  • Each light color vibrates at a certain wavelength, some shorter like violet, and some longer like red. Yellow is measured at 590 to 570 nanometers, which is just above orange and below green.
  • Some experiments show that an entire room painted in yellow can upset babies and make them cry. It can also increase aggression in adults.
  • Yellow is stimulating and can improve appetite, and combining yellow with red can cause people to feel hungry. Consider the colors for McDonald’s or Burger King.
  • There are many special celebrated days in the year, including the happiest day of the year, Yellow Day, which is celebrated on the 20th of June each year.
  • Certain health issues can be determined by the whites of the eye turning yellow. This means you have jaundice, which is caused by excess bilirubin that is found in bile.
  • Chickens eat vegetables and corn, which may contain pigments known as xanthophylls. This is the main reason the egg yolk is yellow.

Fun Facts and Yellow Symbolism


The color yellow is diverse in meaning and can affect the mind and body in many ways. Yellow is stimulating and energizing to both the mind and body, helping to boost confidence, communication, and creativity. However, yellow also has a negative side, having the potential to be overwhelming and irritating. By applying the color more thoughtfully in our daily lives, it can be used to elevate our personal and social lives.




Frequently Asked Questions


What Are the Four Main Traits of Yellow Symbolism?

As color meaning can vary, these traits are more of a general opinion. Yellow is often associated with the four traits of happiness, joy, energy, and intellect. Yellow is naturally stimulating and uplifting to both the mind and body.


Does Yellow Have Significance in Life?

Yellow is a color that can influence the right side of the brain, where creative and artistic abilities are found. However, yellow is also a color that encourages logical thinking and promotes communication. Yellow is confidence-boosting and can have many positive effects when used in our everyday lives.


What Is the Meaning of Yellow Dreams?

The interpretation is often directly linked to the various meanings of the color yellow, both positive and negative. For example, it can mean that you are experiencing a change for the good, which is going to bring happiness. So, it is the color of optimism and hope. However, it can also be seen as a cautionary color.


Is Yellow a Powerful Color?

Yellow is a bright color that quickly draws your attention. It is also a stimulating and energizing color that can rapidly become overwhelming, which makes it quite a powerful color in effect. However, when used properly, it is powerfully uplifting and confidence-building. So, in many ways, yellow can be seen as a powerful color.


Cite this Article

Charlene, Lewis, “Meaning of the Color Yellow – Explore the Sunshine Hue.” Art in Context. February 7, 2024. URL:

Lewis, C. (2024, 7 February). Meaning of the Color Yellow – Explore the Sunshine Hue. Art in Context.

Lewis, Charlene. “Meaning of the Color Yellow – Explore the Sunshine Hue.” Art in Context, February 7, 2024.

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