There is a colour named "Peruvian Brown". This is mentioned in the Wikipedia entry for shades of brown. The Wikipedia entry gives a reference to an offline book, and examples of modern use (the x11 system, and CSS colour codes), but does not give any etymology.

What is the etymology of Peruvian brown?

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    Named after a poisonous spider, the Peruvian Brown? May 18, 2015 at 18:04
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    I don't know what the pigment originally was for Peruvian Brown, but it seems probable that it was an earth pigment. Thus, the origin of the name is that it was derived from a particular shade of mud found in Peru, akin to Verona Green, or heck, Sienna (burnt or otherwise). But this is more an art history question than an English Language & Usage one. (Also, I don't know for a fact what the pigment is/was for Peruvian Brown, so I'm only posting this as a comment, not an answer.)
    – Marthaª
    May 18, 2015 at 18:31
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    There are easily ten thousand different "named" colors, if you canvass all the paint stores in the US. At some point they're just pulling names out of thin air.
    – Hot Licks
    May 18, 2015 at 18:32
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    It's probably derived from the natural reddish-to-olive color of some strains of cotton grown in the Andes. The earliest use I have found is from a discussion of the "color card" for the fashion season of 1924: "Inca gold, Yucatan and Peruvian brown have a decidedly rich gold cast. " May 18, 2015 at 18:48
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    @Hot Licks: +1 for "canvassing" paint stores! May 19, 2015 at 7:10

2 Answers 2


The colour seems to be similar to that of traditional Peruvian clay pots, and also to the colour of Peruvian leather. I cannot verify either of these theories, sorry.


My guess is it's from Gossypium barbadense, a species of cotton plant grown in Peru. From 1880, Peruvian Bark: A Popular Account of the Introduction of Chinchona Cultivation Into British India

In a crop of G. Barbadense a percentage of the plants almost always yields cotton of a reddish-brown colour.

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