The color chartreuse is broadly remembered as a shade of red. Some recall it as a maroon-ish red. Others describe it as a reddish magenta.
The fact is, in this timestream, the color is yellow-green. The color gets its name from the liqueur, Chartreuse.
However, I clearly recall a discussion with my mother, an artist, about the color chartreuse. I was a teen and used “chartreuse” to describe a magenta-ish dress. My mother couldn’t believe I was serious, and I remember looking in my childhood crayon box for a reddish crayon labeled “chartreuse,” but couldn’t find it.
It was a humiliating moment for me, because she was right and — in our household — that was like confusing Miro and Michelangelo. It just wasn’t done.
I didn’t think about it again until a comment about chartreuse appeared at this site. Then another did, and yet another. No matter how long I study this topic, I’m still astonished when a memory matches one of mine.
(Also, collecting comments for this article, I was amazed at how many there were. I’ve included many of them — not all — below, and apologize for the length of this article. I wanted to include enough to make it clear: This is a widespread alternate memory.)
Recent comments included the following.
In September 2014, Stephanie said:
I distinctly remember Chartreuse being a purple-pink color close to Magenta but a little darker. Less pink, more purple, but still too pink to be a true purple. I’m so confused??
In Oct 2014, Misty said:
…chartreuse was a dark red color…
I thought chartreuse was a rich sort of pinkish-magenta color?
I really thought chartreuse was a shade of red? Not green or yellow at all? When I clicked the Wikipedia link to see what color it is, I was so confused. I’m glad other people share in this confusion as well.
Seems like too pretty of a name for “lime green”. Ick. Doesn’t sit right with me.
I. K. said:
And yet the etymology makes perfect sense. Then again, that might be at the heart of the potential difference. So, if this Carthusian order, who’s liquor got the name associated with it, and lend itself to the name of the colour instead made a particular blend of red wine, perhaps Chartreuse would get a different colour association.
Honestly, without saying anything one way or the other on the matter, if I would have guessed without knowing, I’m certain I would have guessed it was a reddish colour. It does have the ring of a warm red drink to it.
One of the JMs (we have two) said:
Yeah the whole color changing business is a weird one.
I asked a friend of mine, what color she remembers Chartreuse being and she remembers it as always being the yellow/green color, but she also remembers it as being part of a series of colors spanning yellow/green to red/pink/purple, which is very interesting. I myself remember it being the red/pink/purple color only and not the yellow/green that it is now(that looks and sounds way off) nor as part of a series of colors that are in different color groupings.
I’m shocked that chartreuse is now suddenly a shade of green. I always thought it was a reddy/purple colour too. I have a vague recollection of thinking that chartreuse sounded french, like a red wine, so it made sense. And now it’s green? WEIRD! The mind boggles.
I remember a while back (maybe 12-15 years ago? I’m pushing 40 now) I was driving my car, describing something to my friend in the passenger seat and I used the word “chartreuse” . She was surprised and we ended up getting into a debate about the definition of chartreuse. I was shocked to learn that it was the color it is now (that yellow-green-aqua color)… and had to “eat-crow”, so to speak. BUT I had forgotten the color I previously thought it was, since I’ve known the “official” definition for so long. Upon reading your post, I realize the reddish color you describe is exactly the color I used to think it was.
I could have sworn that chartreuse was like a magenta colour. I remember watching (and yes, i know how this sounds) blues clues, and the guy went, red and purple make chaaaaarrtruuuuuuuuuse.
I was more than positive chartreuse was a sort of purple color until a year or two ago.
Chartreuse was a pink color; I’ve ALWAYS associated chartreuse with pink (sort of a pinky-orange?), and never with anything green.
I have always been bothered by chartreuse not being a maroon color. It is NOT yellow-green, just no, that drives me crazy every time somebody mentions it! When I was younger, I would have sworn it was deep red/purple.
Had to make it all the way to the bottom [of the Major Memories comment thread] for someone to finally answer the Chartreuse question. And the whole time I was waiting for some one to say a pink/ashy purple. Glad someone else has a memory of that. the Chartreuse question. And the whole time I was waiting for some one to say a pink/ashy purple. Glad someone else has a memory of that.
I could have SWORN that… chartreuse was a reddish-brown color. What the heck?!
In November 2014, Emily said:
Chartreuse is a wine red, I’ve had that argument many times.
– I know chartreuse was a pinkish color; I was watching a Modern Marvels episode on firefighting and they were talking about how some fire trucks are starting to be painted in chartreuse instead of red because of the increased visibility. I was curious what a chartreuse firetruck would look like so I went looking for pictures online, at which point I found out that chartreuse was basically neon yellow. I distinctly remember how weird this experience was for me, especially because I had never before heard someone refer to “neon yellow” as “chartreuse”. (I was watching this sometime in 2005, so I learned about chartreuse sometime before then)
Saffie Kaplan said:
I definitely thought chartreuse was some sort of purple. I remember asking my mom about it, which was the first time I heard of it as a yellow-green.
Rachel Lynn said:
When I think of Chartreuse, for whatever reason, the first colour that popped into my head was a blue-green colour, followed closely by thinking “wait, or maybe a pink colour.” I feel more strongly that its a blue-green, but yellow-green would never have been a guess, and the more k think about it the more i swear that it was blue-green crayon and i’m tempted to go find old crayons and look.
Both my mom and I remember the color Chartreuse being a pinkish-purple color, almost like a neon purple. but most definitely not a yellow-green color.
Early in 2015, Hannah Carr said:
I swear to god chartreuse was like a dark red.
I also remember chartreuse as being a purple-ish color
Chartreuse is not yellow-green. It’s an orange fiery-red. I’m a synesthete with words and music. I had huge crayon boxes because I could not spell or write if words were not in the “correct” color (I couldn’t understand why other children didn’t get confused when, for instance, teachers wrote in colored chalk on the chalk board but wrote complete sentences in 1 color!). Luckily my gifted teacher researched my instances and realized it as synesthesia. She encouraged me to color code (which is the fist time I really understood math) and it allowed me to learn different languages at a young age (words which have the same meaning in another language represent in the same color – unlike music which seems to represent based on tonal sound).
All this to say that the word “aerospace” is a chartreuse word. In German the word “Raumfahrt” is also a chartreuse word. Both are a fiery orange-red.
Another Rachel said:
I used to think chartreuse was a dark red or burgundy color.
Oh dear lord, i’m not alone. My whole life i thought Chartruese was a deep red or purple. I considered it my favorite color for a long time. It wasn’t until my sophmore year in highschool that i found out it was a light yellow or green. My best friend was ordering her dress and wanted my opinion. She said that she was getting it in Chartruse and i told her that was the one I thought would look nice, but the only picture she has was this gross pukey yellow and i said, “i’m glad you’re getting a different color than in the picture, because that is an awful color”. She then corrected me that the one pictured was the Chartrues one. I guess, all along the color i thought i loved was actually Mauve?
Yes chartreuse was a maroon-red color. It was only a couple years ago that I saw a crayon marked chartreuse and it was this awful green-yellow color, and I thought that Crayola must have made a mistake!
If you’d like to add a comment, you can use the numbers on the following color wheel to indicate the color you recall as chartreuse.