When talking about colours both 乌 and 黑 seem to mean "black", what is the difference between them?
ex. there is 乌龙茶 but there is also 黑龙江, both 乌龙 and 黑龙 mean "black dragon".

  • 1
    Except in some fixed words and phrases, 乌 will not be used. – fefe Oct 8 '17 at 10:25
up vote 3 down vote accepted

http://www.zdic.net/z/1d/sw/70CF.htm

乌

孝鳥也。象形

乌 was a pictograph of a crow (烏鴉) . Since crow is black, the character 乌 was sometimes used as an adjective for 'dark' , 'black', or a verb for 'to blacken' in classical text.

~

黑

火所熏之色也

黑 was a pictograph that depicted 'object being burned by fire' . It was used to represent the color 'black'. This meaning remain unchanged today.

In modern Chinese, 黑 is the primary word for 'black'(noun or adjective); 乌 is used for 'black' or 'dark' only in some set phrases , idioms and names

Examples:

烏煙瘴氣- black smoke and miasma

烏雲 - dark cloud

烏衣 - classical version of 黑衣 (black clothes)

  • 乌(烏)[wū]
  • noun
    • 1.(乌鸦) crow; raven; rook
    • 2.(姓氏) a surname: Wu Chengpin 乌承批.
  • adj(黑色) black; dark: black eye; 乌眼青 dark hair 乌黑的头发
  • pronoun (何; 哪里) how; what's: How can such a thing be? 乌有此事? What's there worth mentioning about it? 乌足道哉?
  • 黑[hēi]
  • adj
    • 1.(像煤或墨的颜色) black: black hair 黑发
    • 2.(黑暗) dark: It's dark. 天黑了。
    • 3.(秘密; 不公开) secret; shady: shady deal; 黑交易 a clandestine meeting 黑会
    • 4.(坏; 狠毒) wicked; sinister: blackhearted and cruel 心黑手辣
    • 5.(象征反动)reactionary: reactionary gang 黑帮
  • noun
    • 1.(夜晚) night: from morning till night 从早到黑
    • 2. (黑龙江省的简称) short for Heilongjiang Province
    • 3. (姓氏) a surname: Hei Yunlong 黑云龙

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