3 Colors That Represent Sadness (Blue, Gray, Black)

colors that represent sadness

Sadness is an emotional state that happens to everyone. This emotion is usually represented by the colors blue, gray, and black.

Sometimes, sadness is felt together with other emotions, such as anger, loneliness, guilt, or hopelessness. As such, there are different ways of expressing sadness, and these can be represented in various colors as well.

Blue represents sadness because it can give off a feeling of coldness. Gray can be a symbol of sadness because it represents lack of life in a landscape, and black represents sadness because it represents the lack of light.

Blue As A Color Of Sadness

blue color meaning

Generally, dark blue shades have become synonymous with negative emotions such as sadness, loneliness, and misery.

Blue is a cool color that is often related to peace, tranquility, calm, and stability because of its association with the sea and the sky when there is no storm. But some blue shades, particularly the darker ones, can give off a feeling of coldness, like a solid block of ice.

According to research conducted by psychologists, visual perception of color can be affected by strong emotions, particularly sadness. For example, people who are sad tend to have difficulties when identifying colors in the blue-yellow spectrum.

sad woman looking out rainy window

There are also several references in folklore and literature that associate blue with sadness. One example is in Greek mythology, where blue is used to symbolize rain.

According to stories, the god Zeus would invoke rain when he was feeling down. Chaucer, a famous poet, once described tears as having shades of blue in his poem “The Complaint of Mars”.

Even in the modern English language, there are many idioms that use blue to indicate sorrow, such as:

  • Feeling blue can be used as synonyms for sadness, loneliness, or sorrow
  • Black and Blue signifies injury, both physically and emotionally
  • Have the blues describes a state of being sad or melancholic
  • Being in a blue funk refers to a prolonged state of sadness or depression
  • Blue in the face indicates fatigue or stress; also describes the act of wasting efforts in a hopeless situation

Gray As A Color Of Sadness

gray color meaning

Another color that people associate with sadness according to psychologists is the color gray. People think of loneliness, sadness, and isolation when exposed to this shade.

Aside from this, gray is also perceived as conservative, old, wise, and somber, as well as secure and stable.

Psychologists have discovered that people who are sad perceive space and color differently because the emotion affects chemical processes in the brain.

Sadness can inhibit excitement and passion, while also lowering dopamine levels in the body. Both reactions affect the retina, limiting the amount of light absorbed by the eye. This is why sad people feel that they see the world as more gloomy, fuzzy, and dull.

Gray is also a preferred color for people experiencing low moods or sad emotions:

In a study conducted among more than 200 respondents who have been clinically diagnosed with anxiety or depression, gray was chosen as the color that best reflected their mood.


In the same study, they also included people who claimed they felt good or happy to compare results. For this group of people, yellow was the color selected to represent their mood instead.

The reason for this is believed to be the perception of gray as dull, lifeless, unemotional, and lacking in passion. It does not grab attention, and is seen to reflect weakness and a lack of character.

The shade is also reminiscent of gloomy skies when the weather is not good, further reinforcing its association with sadness and depression, as well as bad news or bad luck. 

Gray is also associated with destruction, isolation, and abandonment.

It is the color of ashes, which represent things that have been ruined by fire. A house that has been uninhabited for a long time gets filled with dust and cobwebs, which are both gray.

Despite all this, gray as a color is not all bad. For one, it is a neutral color that works well in the background. It has the ability to complement almost any color, giving strong colors a softer effect, and enabling soft colors to have a stronger impact.

Because it reminds people of gray hairs on more mature and experienced individuals, gray also represents expertise, wisdom, knowledge, and mastery.

This neutrality transcends the world of visual arts as gray is also used to describe the balance in life. White often means good while black means evil, and gray represents the middle ground of both concepts because it carries a portion of each color.

This is often used as a simile to describe humanity, in that no person is purely good or evil, there is a bit of both in each person. 

Black As A Color Of Sadness

black color meaning

As a color that absorbs all light and extinguishes its presence, it is not surprising that black has become associated with dark mental and emotional states like sadness, grief, and depression.

It is the color of the night, a time when there is no light and people cannot see where they are going. Because of this, black has also been associated with evil, as well as all things threatening and sinister.

In many Western cultures, black is traditionally worn during funerals to show respect to the departed, as well as a sign of grief from the loved ones that were left behind.

This tradition can be traced as far back as the ancient Roman practice of wearing black robes for mourning.

Black is a strong, intense color that can sometimes be intimidating and overwhelming, but if used correctly, can also indicate authority, power, and sophistication. It works well with other colors, and even complements them.

Black also represents formality, power, and authority, which is why it is often seen in corporate settings.

Scientists have been fascinated by the ability of the color to absorb light, and they have been racing to find the blackest color possible.

So far, in the lead are researchers from MIT who have created a black shade that is capable of absorbing 99.995% of all incoming light, giving the impression that one is looking at a void.

Because of its imposing presence and association with the night, black has been tagged as sinister and evil.

This transcends to perception of people as well, that is why many villains and anti-heroes are depicted as black or wearing black clothing in many movies, TV shows, and comic books.

What is Sadness?

Sadness can happen in a single episode, extend for a short term, or a recurring state over the long term. When this state of being unhappy lasts for a long time and remains persistent, it can lead to mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.

Though experiencing sadness is not pleasant, this is not necessarily bad. It is a natural human reaction, same as happiness, fear, or anger.

In certain ways, sadness can even be beneficial to an individual as it allows him to stop for a while and reflect on the situation. Sadness is man’s way of processing an incident that could have been overwhelming. It allows him to cope with loss, after which he will be able to move on with his life.


Sadness is a natural human emotion that should not be suppressed because it allows the person to process the experience and eventually move on from it. However, this should only occur in short stages.

Prolonged feelings of sadness could lead to health issues such as depression and anxiety, and should be properly addressed. The colors blue, gray, and black are all associated with feelings of sadness but with varying degrees. Dark blue colors usually signify low moods, gray is linked to depression, while black is used to represent grief.