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  5. 'Piros' and 'vörös'


'Piros' and 'vörös'

  • 2141

I just met this sentence ('A híres amerikai énekesnő kiszáll a piros szőnyegre' - The famous American singer gets out onto the red carpet) and I was wondering, how can a native speaker put such a word into this phrase... Please correct it, I already clicked on the Report button... But I will tell a bit more about the word 'red'.

We Hungarains have TWO words for the color RED. A quite neutral, like 'piros' and a - I would say - poetic one, 'vörös'. Its meaning is also 'bloody' (blood is vér, if that is a 21st century word, that is véres, so bloody, but vörös is kind of like a dialect word, but used actively in the Hungarian vocabulary). ...

Where can we use piros and where vörös? There are certain phrases, words, where only one of them could be accepted.

piros - anything neutral, like:

  • piros labda - red ball
  • piros pötty - red dot
  • piros alma - red apple

vörös - if the red is dark like the blood, or if the name is quite elite...

  • vörösbor - red wine (like blood, see)
  • vörös haj - red hair (piros haj sounds like someone with paint on his/her head...)
  • Vörös-tenger - Red Sea (Piros-tenger sounds sooo childish)
  • vörös szőnyeg - red carpet (quite aristocratic, isn't it?)
  • Vörös Hadsereg - Red Army (huge, and again, blood...)
  • Vörös Oroszlán - Red Lion (good name for a restaurant...)
  • Vörös Ördögök - Red Devils...

Of course we have surnames from both, Ildikó Piros is an actress, and Sándor Weöres (yes, it is vörös, but written in an old way, same pronunciation) was a poet. Or he, his surname is also Vörös: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aaron_Voros

July 20, 2016


  • 802


For example the communist red flag is "vörös" but the Hungarian flag is piros, fehér, zöld.


So ... the famous "red carpet" that they have at the Academy Awards should be vörös ... but if you just happen to have red carpeting in your living room ... might that be piros?

  • 2141

Yes, that can be a... piros szőnyeg :)


Köszi. And by the way ... your Duolingo track record is amazing. Generally speaking, the course trees that you've finished ... do you now feel like you have a basic conversational competence in those languages?

  • 2141

Thanks, or köszi :) Honestly I would not say that I could be able to make a basic conversation in all of those languages, except maybe the Italian :) When I started to use Duolingo, the goal was to study Dutch, but seeing back from here now, I would say, Dutch is one of my sleeping languages, I have to practice again. Irish - that was a bad course, good language but with a really bad quality, no voice records for every word, which would be crucial in the case of Irish. On the other hand my Welsh is quite ok. You have to know, I don't study only from Duolingo, I also have other books about them. Swedish - I knew some Swedish before, so that is also fine, although I mix up my vocabulary with Norwegian words sometimes. Danish -just for fun, my ex boss was Danish, although my pronunciation was terrible there. Spanish... Hm... It could be better, but no, my Italian is still far the best Romance language I speak. If you do a course quite fast, you don't remember the words at all... German, ja, ich musste es auch in der Schule gelernt, ich habe auch deutsche Kollegen, aber ich weiss, dass mein Grammatik nicht so gut ist.


Danke y gracias. Have you ever tried the "English for Hungarians" course? What do you think of it? Worth recommending?

  • 2141

Nope, but I tried once the English for Czech, but it was not so useful from the other side. Still waiting for the Czech course :)

  • 2141

Rhaid i ti ceisio y gwrs Gymraeg ar ôl gorffen y gwrs Hwngareg / You have to try the Welsh course, after you finish the Hungarian course :)


Red hair is "vörös", not "piros", albeit it is actually more like orange. :)

  • 2141

Indeed, I forgot that. I will update that now.


This is interesting. In Czech we also have two words for red, červená (piros/red) and rudá (vörös/dark red). But the dark red is used in 90% of the cases for concepts related to communism or the Soviet Union. Red Army, Red Square, Red glow above Kladno (a propagandistic book and movie), Red banner, etc.. Our red carpets and wines are ordinary red, perhaps because the commies weren't that chic :)


This is really an interesting topic. And it is exciting to learn that something you thought was unique to your language actually occurs in several other languages. We are all humans after all, we are not so different, our blood is universally red, and we all observe the world with human eyes. Yet there are also differences.

Here is a link to the Hungarian red (but the whole article is worth reading!):

And another link, describing colors in general, and cultural differences in describing various colors. It also mentions the multiple words for red in Hungarian, as well as in Turkish, Irish and Scottish Gaelic, for example:


Why is a 'yellow onion' known as a 'vöröshagyma'?


And why is a "vöröshagyma" known as a "yellow onion"? :)


It is much more yellow than what we English call a 'red onion'. :D

I think Hungarians call that a 'lilahagyma'? Very confusing!


Yeah, that other one is much more purple than what Hungarians would call red.
Have some white (or yellow?) wine, it may clear the confusion. :)

Btw, look at the outside of a "vöröshagyma", I think the description is quite accurate actually.

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