language divided the world into color swatches differently from the English language; Latin
is usually more analytical than English
, and the color
definition makes no difference, as sometimes it distinguishes colors based on their overall intensity
White can be either albus or candidus. Albus is a dull white, like chalk on a chalkboard; candidus is a very bright white, like a white dress or - in biblical context - a pure soul. Political candidates wore candidae togas in order to stand out in a crowd - thence the word. Canus is also used as an even duller version of albus, like the hair of an old man.
The same difference applies for black: here we have ater and niger. Ater is a dull, shadowy black; while niger is a shiny black, like the soul of a stubborn sinner. Fuscus is a black that's almost grey or a very dark grey.
Blue can be caeruleus or caesius: caeruleus is light blue, the color of the sky, caesius is a dull blue like steel or a man's eyes.
This distinction is lost in Italian and - as far as I know - in Spanish.
More on the topic of colors in ancient languages can be found in the excellent colour terms in language node.