early 15c., "action of applying color, painting, dyeing," also "way something is colored," noun of action from color (v.). Figurative use "misrepresentation, concealment" is from mid-15c. Meaning "a combination of colors, hues collectively" is from 1706. From 1762 in figurative or transferred sense "peculiar character or effect analogous to the effect of hue or tint." The children's coloring-book is from 1926.