Nowadays, we rely heavily on Pantone to come up with wonderful new color concoctions, but back in the day, colors were invented in a much different way. In fact, some of the most common colors – indigo, magenta, and emerald green, to name a few – have long and surprising histories.
In the green family, for instance, the malachite shade came about from copper ore being ground, while emerald rose to popularity as an ingredient in rat poison.
The perfect pink to brighten up a space, magenta takes its name from a battle that occurred during the second Italian war for independence. And anise blue? It was created when someone mixed up the recipe for magenta.
One thing about color names was just as true then as it is now: They're often quite literal. Ultramarine – a shade of purple – was named after dazzling gemstones found in Afghanistan, and chalk white refers to the color of actual chalk dust. (Clearly creativity was not a concern.)
Check out the infographic below, created by Korwin Briggs of , to learn more about the unique – and sometimes deadly – histories of more beloved colors.