early 13c., "skin color, complexion," from Old French color "color, complexion, appearance" (Modern French couleur), from Latin color "color of the skin; color in general, hue; appearance," from Old Latin colos, originally "a covering" (akin to celare "to hide, conceal"), from PIE root *kel-(1) "to cover, conceal, save."
For sense evolution, compare Sanskrit varnah "covering, color," related to vrnoti "covers," and also see chroma. Meaning "visible color, color of something" is attested in English from c. 1300. As "color as a property of things," from late 14c. Old English words for "color" were hiw ("hue"), bleo.
late 14c.; see color (n.); earliest use is figurative. Related: Colored; coloring.
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