“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”
The words for colors in everyday life—“red,” “green,” “blue,” and so on—do not have precise meanings. Instead, each word is a code for a range of similar sensations. The same is true for words that describe colors, like “vivid,” “dull,” “dark,” or “light.” “Red” is red and never blue, and “vivid” is never dull, but at the same time each word encompasses a wide range of visual experiences.
When a word is used to identify a color sample, or to describe a color not seen, it means something slightly different to each person. Mary and John see the same sweater. Mary calls it red; John insists it is red-orange. Not everyone senses colors in exactly the same way, and even if they did, individuals do not think of colors in exactly the same way. The result is a stalemate, ...