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烏/乌/wū = "black" or "dark"?


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I've had many Chinese speakers translate 烏/乌/wū as meaning "black". But is that really correct?


Wouldn't "dark" be a more accurate translation?


Or is 烏/乌/wū to 黑/hēi what 青/qīng is to 綠/绿/lǜ  -  a more figurative, literary way to express the same colour?


Anyone got the answer to this one?




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In modern Chinese 烏 is seldom used outside compound words.

In classical Chinese, originally 烏 means 烏鴉 (crow, rook, raven): 月落烏啼霜滿天.

烏 is also used as a metonym for the sun, because it was believed a three-legged crow inhabits it (sunspot 太陽黑子 if you ask me): 金烏西墜、玉兔東昇.

And by extension, 烏 means the color of the bird, which is black: 烏騅馬 is a black horse, I mean literally black; 何首烏 is believed to have the power to restore your greying hair to its youthful blackness (if you're Chinese, that is, of course).

When I google 烏雲 the first hit is 烏雲為什麼是黑色滴. What do you call 烏雲 in English? Dark cloud? Black cloud? Potayto potahto.

烏黑色 is the color of the crow. 橙黃色 is the color of the orange. Simple.

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