Taupe refers to a dark grayish-brown color. The word "taupe" derives from the French name for the European Mole, Talpa europaea.

Originally, this referred only to the average color of the French mole, but like the colors pink and lavender, the name expanded (in the case of taupe beginning in the 1940s) to encompass a wide range of varying shades. It seems that this occurred because the color of the fur of the mole can itself exhibit a wide range of shades, from gray through yellowish, brownish, and even purplish.

Taupe is a vague, unscientific color term which may be used to refer to almost any grayish-brown, brownish-gray, or warm gray color. It often overlaps with tan and even people who use color professionally (such as designers and artists) frequently disagree as to what "taupe" means. There is no single, generally recognized authority for such terms.

Dark taupe

The color displayed at right matches the color sample called taupe referenced below in the 1930 book A Dictionary of Color, the world standard for color terms before the invention of computers. However, the word taupe may often be used to refer to lighter shades of taupe today, and therefore another name for this color is dark taupe.

The first use of "taupe" as a color name in English was in the early 1800s (exact year is not known).

This is the most popular color for leather sofas.

Purple taupe

The color displayed at right is purple taupe.

Medium taupe

The color displayed at right is medium taupe.

Mauve taupe

At right is displayed the color mauve taupe.

The first recorded use of mauve taupe as a color name in English was in 1925.

A popular brand of professional plastic chessboards marketed to chess masters in the 1960s had squares of this color and the color magnolia because it was felt that those two colors were both easy on the eyes and aesthetic together. These boards were used by chess master George Koltanowski in his chess tournaments in which he played blindfolded against hundreds of people at a time.

Rose taupe

The color displayed at right is rose taupe.

The first recorded use of rose taupe as a color name in English was in 1924.

Sandy taupe

At right is displayed the color sandy taupe.

This color is also called taupe sand.

Pale taupe (mouse)

Pale taupe is a dusky brownish grey color.

A British paint color name mouse's back is similar in color and source of name. This color is also called mouse.

The first recorded use of mouse as a color name in English was in 1606.

This color is also known for being the default choice of office supplies and personal computer enclosures through the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Taupe gray

Displayed at right is the color taupe gray.

Shades of taupe color comparison chart

  • Taupe Gray (Hex: #8B8589) (RGB: 139, 133, 137)
  • Pale Taupe (Mouse) (Hex: #BC987E) (RGB: 188, 152, 126)
  • Sandy Taupe (Hex: #967117) (RGB: 150, 113, 23)
  • Rose Taupe (Hex: #905D5D) (RGB: 144, 93, 93)
  • Mauve Taupe (Hex: #915F6D) (RGB: 145, 95, 109)
  • Medium Taupe (Hex: #674C47) (RGB: 103, 76, 71)
  • Purple Taupe (Hex: #504040) (RGB: 80, 64, 77)
  • TAUPE (Dark Taupe) (Hex: #483C32) (RGB: 72, 60, 50)

Taupe in culture



  • Taupe is used in fashions as a light-warm color to emphasize soft, even tones.



  • An episode from the second season of Mad About You, Instant Karma, revolves around the bad luck Helen attracts after accidentally attaining a taupe blouse without paying.
  • In one episode, Bart vs. Lisa vs. 3rd Grade, of The Simpsons, a child on a bus shouts, "Punchbuggy taupe!"
  • In the November 7, 2007 episode of CBS's Criminal Minds, the color taupe is referred to as a "negative color" when picked as a color by a person.
  • In the fifth episode of season two of Dilbert the artist Rusty represents the color taupe as orange in an art class.


See also

  • ISCC-NBS Dictionary of Color Names (1955)--Color dictionary used by stamp collectors to identify the colors of stamps--See samples of the various shades of Taupe displayed on the indicated page.
  • List of colors

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