From the Old English grene, the Northumbrian groene, Old Norse græn, all the way back to the Proto-Indo-European root *ghre– meaning to “grow”, which you’ll be happy to know is also the root-cognate of ‘grass’.

In Ancient Egypt, it was the symbol of regeneration and rebirth, the hieroglyph for the color was represented a growing papyrus sprout. For the Romans, it was the color associated with Venus, the goddess of gardens, vegetables and vineyards. In the Renaissance, it was the color of wealth, of merchants and bankers (just as red was the color of royalty). This is why the wife in the Arnolfini Portrait is wearing a dress of that color; it’s why the benches in the British House of Commons are that color; it’s why gaming tables in casinos and pool tables are covered in cloth of that color.

Because bile (one of the four vital fluids in ancient medicine) is that color, it became associated with envy and jealousy and physical corruption. This is why the skin of Frankenstein’s monster and the Wicked Witch of the West is that color. It’s why orcs and goblins and ogres are generally depicted in that color.

It’s the universal color symbol for permission to go, and the signal that a system is turned on and working as it should.

It’s the most common color of dragons.


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