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What does the color maroon mean negatively?

What does the color maroon mean negatively?

The color maroon has a number of negative associations and meanings in certain contexts. While maroon is a bold, rich color that can signify passion, strength, and sophistication, it also has some more negative connotations depending on how it is used or perceived. Here is an overview of some of the more negative meanings associated with the color maroon:

Associations with Blood and Violence

One of the most common negative associations with maroon is that it looks like dried blood. As a result, maroon can evoke feelings of bloodshed, harm, and violence.

This is particularly true in the context of sports. Maroon is used as a primary or secondary color by some sports teams named for aggressive animals or with historically violent reputations, including the Arizona Cardinals NFL team, the Auburn Tigers NCAA team, and the Marquette Golden Eagles NCAA team. Fans for opposing teams will use the maroon in these uniforms as a way to suggest potential violence or bloodshed on the field when facing these teams.

Additionally, the term “maroon” refers to leaving someone stranded or trapped without resources or help, typically on a deserted island. This association with being abandoned to potential doom adds to the ominous vibes maroon can give off.

Connections to Frustration and Anger

Maroon sits in the red-purple family of colors. While purple is often seen as more mystical and wise, red is commonly associated with passion, aggression, intensity, and anger. Maroon’s closeness to red means it can easily convey some of those same hot, fiery emotions.

Use of maroon in designs or decor is sometimes intended to communicate a sense of irritation, impatience, or being “fired up” about something. Maroon calls to mind flushing with rage or seeing red when you’re angry. As a result, it’s a color businesses and brands tread carefully with, as they don’t want to automatically evoke frustration.

Stereotypical Masculinity

In many cultures, maroon is viewed as a very masculine color, likely due to its close associations with red. It has a bold, strong look that traditionally aligns with stereotypical male traits and preferences. As society has moved toward more gender-neutral thinking and equality, extremely masculine or feminine colors have taken on some negative baggage.

Specifically, maroon now sometimes signifies a certain “macho” attitude or old-fashioned male mentality that is dismissive or degrading toward women and femininity. The aggressiveness and intensity of maroon can call to mind male domination if used without nuance. Some now avoid maroon to sidestep these outdated gender role connotations.

Cheating and Adultery

An archaic meaning of maroon was a “chestnut” reddish-brown horse color. In folklore, a husband was said to be wary of his wife riding chestnut horses, as the color symbolized female promiscuity and adultery. This belief then transferred somewhat to the red-brown maroon shade.

While this superstition around maroon/chestnut horse colors and fidelity obviously has no merit, it left enough of a taint on maroon over time that the color may still produce subconscious links to cheating, extramarital affairs, and sexual impropriety for some.

Academic Difficulty and Failure

In a very specific context, maroon has an educational stigma as well. At some elite universities, “marooned” is a slang term for those put on academic probation due to poor grades. This arises from Harvard’s former tradition of signaling less academically successful students by making them wear maroon neckties.

So within college settings, maroon attire or accessories can stand as a reminder of scholarly difficulty and subpar performance. Wearing or using maroon may be avoided by students who fear subtly or subconsciously linking themselves to academic probation.

Negative Meaning Context
Blood, violence Sports team colors, stranded on deserted island
Anger, frustration Color psychology, design choices
Stereotypical masculinity Gender equality, moving away from gender roles
Cheating, adultery Folklore about chestnut horse colors
Academic difficulty Harvard tradition of maroon neckties


In summary, maroon has collected a number of negative associations across various settings despite originally being a regal, prestigious color in places like India. The similarities to blood and red make it easy to link with aggression or violence in sports contexts. Maroon’s passionate intensity can also shift to more irritable, angry feelings in design and decor. Stereotypical masculinity, fidelity issues, and academic failure also taint maroon’s symbolism in certain situations.

However, these meanings are very dependent on culture and personal interpretation. Maroon may evoke much more positive vibes around richness, romance, sophistication, or success for many people. Like any color, maroon has both positive and negative connotations depending on subjective perspectives, experiences, and contexts. But being aware of its potential darker meanings can help inform smart design and communication choices.

With skill and subtlety, maroon’s strength can come across as commanding without being angry, intense without being martial, and masculine without being chauvinist. Maroon has a timeless character when tempered wisely. And paired strategically with other shades, maroon can strike that perfect balance of classic style, passion, and elegance.

Cultural Differences in Maroon Symbolism

Interestingly, maroon can have very contradictory meanings from culture to culture. This demonstrates how subjective and learned color symbolism can be.

Western Cultures

In most Western cultures, maroon is generally associated with darker, more ominous concepts like:

– Blood, war, violence
– Anger, frustration, intense emotion
– Aggression, danger
– Sin, evil, hell
– Autumn, dying vegetation

These associations likely arise from connections to blood, red, darkness, and death.

Eastern Cultures

In parts of Asia, however, maroon carries much more positive symbolic meaning around:

– Prosperity, success
– Bravery, courage
– Protection, warding off evil
– Celebration, weddings
– Passion, vibrancy

This springs from maroon’s historical ties to silk robes reserved for royalty and the wealthy.


Maroon holds especially positive meaning in India, where it represents:

– Sacrifice, valor, honor
– Energy, strength
– Love, devotion, intimacy
– Radiance, charisma
– Sophistication, elegance

As one of the national colors, maroon reminds Indians of independence, patriotism, and national pride.


Meaning Western Cultures Eastern Cultures India
Death Yes No No
Anger Yes No No
Success No Yes Yes
Passion No Yes Yes
Evil Yes No No

So maroon takes on very different symbolic meanings in Eastern vs. Western perspectives. This shows the fluid, subjective nature of color psychology across cultures.

Use of Maroon in Religion

Maroon also crops up in religious contexts, taking on spiritual meanings both positive and negative.


In Christianity, maroon can represent some more sinister concepts like:

– Sin, immorality
– Evil, demons, Satan
– God’s wrath, judgement
– Hell, eternal damnation

These echo maroon’s connections to blood, anger, aggression, and death. However, maroon may also symbolize sacrifice, faith, piety, and resurrection in Christianity.


Maroon holds much more uniformly positive meaning in Hinduism, representing:

– Spirituality, inner peace
– Love, emotional fulfillment
– Courage, passion
– Sensuality, fertility
– Prosperity, good fortune

This springs from maroon’s close ties to red, the most sacred and auspicious color in Hinduism.


In Buddhism, maroon often represents:

– Renunciation, leaving behind worldly things
– Wisdom, intuition, mindfulness
– Discipline, focus, determination

These reflect Buddhist ideals of freeing oneself from desire and distraction.


Maroon is deeply meaningful in Sikhism, symbolizing:

– Courage, sacrifice
– Martyrdom, remembering those who died for the faith
– Devotion, commitment to God

Believers may wear maroon turbans or other garments to honor Sikh martyrs.


Meaning Christianity Hinduism Buddhism Sikhism
Evil Yes No No No
Sacrifice Yes No No Yes
Wisdom No No Yes No
Passion No Yes No No
Devotion No Yes No Yes

So maroon takes on spiritual meanings aligned with key principles of each faith. It spans the spectrum from holy to profane depending on the religion.

Use of Maroon in Politics and History

Maroon has also been connected to various political movements and historical events, carrying nuances of both patriotism and radicalism at times.

Communism and Socialism

Maroon was historically associated with some Communist and Socialist political groups and governments, including:

– The Soviet Union
– Maoist China
– Leftist movements in Europe and South America

This was likely meant to evoke passion for the cause and ties to working class struggle. However, after failures of these regimes, maroon became a more negative reminder of political oppression.


In 1920s Italy, blackshirts with maroon accessories became the uniform for Mussolini’s Fascist party. This meant maroon took on an ominous tone linked to authoritarianism and dictatorship.

Nazi Germany

The Sturmabteilung (SA) or Storm Detachment that propelled Hitler’s rise wore brown shirts with maroon elements. So again, maroon symbolized dangerous extremism and totalitarian brutality.

Republican Party

In a more positive sense, maroon is one of the official colors of the Republican Party in the US along with red and blue. It underscores bold conservatism and patriotism here.

Social Work

Light maroon is also identified with the social work profession, symbolizing compassion and helping others. So maroon can have caring, service-oriented meaning as well.


Group Meaning
Communism Revolution, radicalism
Fascism Dictatorship, totalitarianism
Republican Party Patriotism, conservatism
Social Work Compassion, service

In politics and activism, maroon has conveyed both positive and negative meanings. It can symbolize pride and patriotism or dangerous extremism depending on the context.

Use of Maroon in Business

Maroon also carries symbolic meaning in the business world, requiring careful use to project the right image.


Maroon can suggest some positive traits for brands like:

– Leadership, confidence
– Reliability, integrity
– Sophistication, elegance
– Passion, boldness

It strikes a balance between dynamic and conservative. Maroon is staple color for financial firms wanting to appear grounded and trustworthy.


However, maroon also runs the risk of conveying:

– Aggression, danger
– Intimidation, domineering
– Outdated perspectives
– Academic pressure, stuffiness

It can come across as strict, humorless, or old-fashioned if not tempered by brighter, fresher shades.

Target Audiences

Sector Appropriateness
Healthcare Too alarming, suggests blood/danger
Technology Too stodgy, not innovative enough
Education Reminder of academic difficulty
Finance Reliable, professional image
Hospitality Could feel imposing or austere

So maroon is a strategic choice depending on whether sophistication or openness is more important.

Competitor Use

Key competitors relying heavily on maroon include:

– Wells Fargo
– Citi
– Chase
– Bank of America
– Harvard

This signals maroon may not differentiate new players in banking or education. But it remains a strong choice in moderation for projecting dependability.


In summary, maroon is a color with extensive symbolic meanings spanning the spectrum from positive to negative. Factors like culture, context, and personal interpretation influence whether maroon conveys luxury or danger, passion or anger, spirituality or sin. Skillful branding and design can temper maroon’s severity with more upbeat shades and shapes as needed. With care and balance, maroon maintains its classic, elite appeal in many settings.