In part of the software my company develops, the user is presented with a list of black-and-white images. The user can select one of these images and then can select a color for it, changing it from black and white to the color they selected.

We are currently calling these “Colorizable Images”, as opposed to the alternative list of “Existing Color” images. But I am not sure that colorizable is a real word and am concerned people may not understand.

Is there a better term for something for which one can change the color of? We considered colorable but the definition seemed completely wrong.

An example might help. The user will see:

a black and white image

And when they choose to colorize that blue, they get:

a blue and white image

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    If you spelled "color" as "colour", then "colourable" might work. ;) – FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Aug 8 '12 at 20:31
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    A few dictionaries do have a second definition of colorable to mean what you want it to mean, like this one, and one of the sources cited here. Interesting what else that word can mean, though. – J.R. Aug 8 '12 at 21:04
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    Looks to me like they merely colored it. – tchrist Aug 8 '12 at 21:18
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    Re-colorable or recolorable might do; also, would uncolored mislead? – James Waldby - jwpat7 Aug 8 '12 at 21:49
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    I'm with @jwpat7. Recolorable and recolor are widely used words in graphics. – JLG Aug 9 '12 at 1:54

11 Answers 11


Given that colorize is a verb that I've seen used in graphics editing software to apply color to greyscale images, and -able is a general English suffix meaning that something is capable of being done, I'd say that colorizable sounds like a perfectly good word to use.

  • Thanks, that was my thinking, but I wasn't sure and wanted to run it past others... – Josh Aug 8 '12 at 20:46

Why not simply use "customizable colour" or "custom coloured" images?

Do you need a single word?

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    I like "Custom Colored" images! – Josh Aug 9 '12 at 1:19

"Colorizable" sounds awkwardly long. I would personally go for the simpler, "Colorable", or "Ready-to-color".

Depending on the context though you might be able to stretch out and use something like "Customizable" or call the images "Templates".

  • "Colorable"/"ready-to-color" suggest that you would be filling them in with color. – Mechanical snail Aug 9 '12 at 10:38

What about coining a phrase such as hue-shift images? If you need to have the capable part emphasized, you could say hue-shiftable, but I like the simpler form.

If you are wed to the word color you could use color-shift or color-shiftable.


Maybe any-color images could work.


If you want to avoid colorable, then tintable is what you’re looking for.

  • No, it's way more than tinting. We're not coloring slightly, we're completely replacing the color. – Josh Aug 8 '12 at 20:27
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    It’s going to depend on your audience. Despite that definition, tinting does not necessarily connote “slightly”. Follow the link and check out the examples of usage on the right. – MetaEd Aug 8 '12 at 20:36
  • Our audience is graphic designers. They'll complain about "tinting"... I know them too well :-) – Josh Aug 8 '12 at 20:38
  • Ouch. That they will. I concede defeat. – MetaEd Aug 8 '12 at 20:41
  • Sorry! I appreciate the answer! – Josh Aug 8 '12 at 20:46

This may be way off base, but what about calling them "line drawings"? Or "line drawn images"?

  • Sorry, my example was confusing. This example is a line drawing but not all of them are... – Josh Aug 8 '12 at 21:27
  • Right, so the user can change the actual black of the image to a colour? Got it. Line drawings wouldn't work. – JAM Aug 8 '12 at 21:38

Photoshop experts would say "overlayable".

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    I cannot do anything if photoshop experts woud say "overlayable" in situations like that! – Elberich Schneider Aug 8 '12 at 22:24

You could call these "Open color images" and "Closed color images". Otherwise, colorizable fits too since "Colorizable images" are images that can be colorized, which is the case.


Colormorph is a more accurate descriptor and might appeal to techie consumers.

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    This answer is extremely short. It could be improved by citing relevant facts, references, or specific expertise which support the answer, or by going into more detail: the how and the why of the answer. – MetaEd Sep 9 '12 at 23:27

i think rephrase altogether to shift the focus off the images having some capability. inanimate objects don't really have capabilities. put the focus on the user having the action available. "images for coloring by user", "the user introduces color to the black and white images"

  • That's a long tab / button name. I am looking for an adjective. – Josh Aug 9 '12 at 12:17
  • how many pixels do we have to work with? – Chris Aug 9 '12 at 14:06

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