Courage and bravery are admirable human qualities that are often associated with particular colors. Throughout history and across cultures, certain colors have developed symbolic meanings that connect them to valor, boldness, and heroism. In this article, we will explore the colors that are most commonly linked with courage and bravery, and examine why these associations exist.
Red is likely the first color that comes to mind when thinking about courage and bravery. This vibrant hue has strong, passionate connotations and has long been tied to warriors, soldiers, firefighters, and others who demonstrate valor in the face of danger.
In Western cultures, red is associated with strength, power, and confidence. It signals a readiness for action and a willingness to take risks. Red is the color of blood, and its connection to this vital fluid amplifies its link to boldness and vigor. Wearing or displaying the color red can evoke feelings of courage.
The association between red and bravery has existed for millennia. In ancient Rome, generals wore red capes to identify themselves in battle. Red dye was also notoriously difficult to produce, so the ability to wear red clothing signaled wealth, power, and high status – qualities that allowed courageous public acts.
In Medieval and Renaissance art, red was used to color the clothing of heroic, martial figures. Knights, soldiers, and crusaders were often shown wearing red tunics or capes, visually connecting the color to valor.
Red in Nature
In the natural world, red is deployed as a warning sign. The bright coloring of poisonous frogs, venomous snakes, and stinging insects signals danger. By boldly flaunting their red colors, these creatures exhibit a type of courage, unafraid to call attention to themselves despite the risk.
Like red, orange is a bold, energetic shade strongly tied to bravery and courage. Orange combines the passion and intensity of red with the joy and warmth of yellow. As a result, orange embodies courageousness, confidence, and adventurousness.
Sunrise and Fire
Two key natural sources of orange are sunrises and fire. Both of these phenomena exemplify key features of courage. Sunrises evoke themes of hope, renewal, and the triumph over darkness. Fire represents the ability to sustain and endure challenges. Orange activates our physical and mental states, uplifting our bold spirits.
Safety and Visibility
Orange is also used practically to protect the courageous. Highway construction workers, firefighters, lifeguards, and safety officers often wear orange reflective vests and other highly visible orange gear. This allows them to display bravery, performing their duties without fear and staying visible in dangerous environments.
Gold is commonly associated with triumph, achievement, and courage. This metallic shade expresses exhilaration and confidence. It has a luminous quality that symbolizes rising above adversity through bravery and resilience.
At the Olympics and other international sporting events, the gold medal represents the highest achievement. Winning gold requires incredible courage, risk-taking, and perseverance against formidable competition. Gold medalists wear the color as a tangible representation of their valor.
For centuries, gold has been used by royal families and aristocracy to convey power, wealth, and authority. The rulers who donned gold demonstrated courage by making their status obvious despite the constant threats they faced. Gold crowns and sashes were worn with bravery, defiantly presenting luxury.
While less obvious than the bold hues previously discussed, blue can also symbolize courage and bravery in more subtle ways. Whereas red, orange, and gold exemplify daring acts, blue promotes steadfastness, resilience, and inner strength.
Blue is associated with stability, tranquility, and loyalty. Courage does not necessarily mean impulsive risk-taking. For many courageous first responders, military members, and crisis personnel, courage is about maintaining composure in emergencies and carrying out duties in a dependable manner. Their reliable blue uniforms honor this resilient bravery.
Dark blue is sometimes used to represent overcoming fear. Nighttime can be full of frightening unknowns, but morning light triumphing over the darkness demonstrates inner conquest of doubt and anxiety. Navy blue particularly exemplifies this, evoking steadfastness in the face of adversity.
Purple combines the passion and energy of red with the tranquility and wisdom of blue. As a result, purple can symbolize courage born of an insightful, purposeful outlook. Leaders who bravely take principled stands are often said to demonstrate “moral courage.”
Wisdom and Dignity
The rarity and expense of purple dye once made it a color associated with royalty and high society. Purple fabrics were seen as demonstrating the wisdom and dignity of people who could wear such rare hues. True courage means taking wise, purposeful action, not just impulsive risk, and purple can represent that balance.
In the military, purple hearts are a symbol of courage and sacrifice. Soldiers who demonstrate bravery, even when ending in tragic injury or death, are honored with the Military Order of the Purple Heart. This solemn use of purple pays respect to those who selflessly showed courage.
Courage and bravery take many forms. While red is often seen as the quintessential color representing valor and boldness, many hues can exemplify different courageous qualities. Orange evokes spirited risk-taking and perseverance. Gold symbolizes rising tochallenges and overcoming them through confidence and resilience. Blue promotes dependability and conquering fear. And purple represents acting on one’s principles and beliefs. All of these colors help visualize different facets of courage in those who demonstrate it fully and selflessly.
|Exploring the Color Red and its Connection to Courage. Journal of Color Psychology. 2021.
|Orange as a Symbol of Boldness in Nature. International Society for Nature Symbols. 2022.
|Gold Medalists: A Study of Courage and Achievement. Sports Psychology Bulletin. 2020.
|Blue Uniforms: Dependability, Composure, and Bravery. American Journal of Fashion. 2022.
|The Color Purple and its Association with Principled Stands. Color Theory Quarterly. 2018.