How to Say Purple in Chinese: A Comprehensive Guide

Gaining proficiency in a new language involves learning not only the basic vocabulary, but also the nuanced ways of expressing colors. In this guide, we will explore the various ways to say “purple” in Chinese, covering both formal and informal terms. We will also touch upon any regional variations if necessary. So, let’s dive into the fascinating world of colors in Mandarin Chinese!

Formal Terms for Purple

When you need to use proper and formal language, it is essential to know the standard term for “purple.” In Chinese, the formal term for purple is 紫色 (zǐsè). Let’s take a closer look at this formal expression:

紫色 (zǐsè)

The first character, 紫 (zǐ), translates to “purple.” The second character, 色 (sè), means “color.” When combined, they form the word “purple color.” This is the most commonly used term for purple in formal contexts, such as academic or professional conversations, formal writing, or official documents.

For example:

他穿一件紫色的外套。 (Tā chuān yī jiàn zǐsè de wàitào.)
Translation: He is wearing a purple jacket.

Informal Expressions for Purple

In more casual or informal settings, you will often come across alternative ways to refer to the color purple. These informal terms may vary among different regions and age groups. Here are a few commonly used informal expressions for “purple” in Chinese:

  1. 紫色 (zǐsè) – Despite being the formal term, 紫色 (zǐsè) can also be used conversationally. It is not restricted to formal situations only. However, it is always good to be aware of more informal alternatives.
  2. 紫 (zǐ) – This is the short form of the term 紫色 (zǐsè), and it is commonly used in informal spoken language.
  3. 紫紫 (zǐzǐ) – This term is widely used amongst young people or in trendy contexts. Doubling the character adds a sense of emphasis and playfulness to the color’s description.
  4. 茄子色 (qiézi sè) – Literally meaning “eggplant color,” this term is a creative way to describe the shade of purple. It draws a comparison between the color and the skin of an eggplant.
  5. 青丝 (qīngsī) – This term specifically refers to a lighter and more purplish shade of purple. It is commonly used in poetic or romantic expressions.

Let’s look at a few examples:

我喜欢这件紫的衬衫。 (Wǒ xǐhuān zhè jiàn zǐ de chènshān.)
Translation: I like this purple shirt. (using informal term)

她画了一幅用茄子色调的油画。 (Tā huà le yī fú yòng qiézi sè diào de yóuhuà.)
Translation: She painted an oil painting in eggplant colors. (creative term)

Regional Variations

While the terms discussed earlier are widely understood across different regions, it’s worth mentioning that some regional variations in Chinese languages may exist. For instance, in Cantonese, the term for purple is more commonly expressed as 紫 (zi) or 梳士派 (syu1 si6 paai3) instead of the Mandarin term 紫色 (zǐsè).

However, if you’re studying Mandarin Chinese, it is recommended to use the standard Mandarin terms discussed above, as they are widely recognized and understood throughout the Chinese-speaking world.


In conclusion, when it comes to saying “purple” in Chinese, the formal term is 紫色 (zǐsè) which translates to “purple color.” In informal settings, alternative expressions such as 紫 (zǐ), 紫紫 (zǐzǐ), 茄子色 (qiézi sè), and 青丝 (qīngsī) are common. Keep in mind that regional variations may exist, but they are usually not a concern when using standard Mandarin Chinese. Learning these various expressions will help you communicate colors accurately and add depth to your Chinese language skills.

We hope this comprehensive guide has been helpful to you on your language learning journey. 加油!(Jiāyóu!) Keep up the good work!

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