Learning Khmer Language: Basic Colors

I haven’t been diligent in learning Khmer language. Although I know tik theat (little) and it could get me by when I go to market or go out but I still have a hard time. I guess I was just too caught up with life and work. Anyway, I decided I have to at least slowly get back into learning the Khmer language bit by bit. It would definitely make living in Cambodia a lot easier for me.

Two days ago I was in the market for some errand. I was looking for small throw pillows, DVD’s and some cotton shirts. When I was at the shirt selling stall, I had a hard time telling the seller what colors I wanted lol! We resorted to pointing to pointing to objects around the market to get her to ‘get’ what I meant.

how to say colors in khmer

So I figured, its high time I learned some colors in Khmer. When I got home I bugged the kiddo and hubby to translate for me. Note that these are just rough translations and I follow the way the English alphabet is pronounced to get the approximate Khmer sounds.

The root word for COLOR in Khmer is PH-OA. If you want to refer to a color, then you have to start the phase with the word phoa first.

  • Black – Phoa Kha Maot
  • White – Phoa So-w
  • Red – Phoa Krohom
  • Yellow – Phoa Leung
  • Blue – Phoa Kiev
  • Green – Phoa Baitong
  • Orange – Phoa Teuk Krewt
  • Pink – Phoa P’ka choup
  • Violet – Phoa Svay
  • Brown – Phoa  Thnout
  • Silver – Praa
  • Gold – Meas

I have this listed now in my little notebook and hopefully could help 😀 More later.


  1. Mumsified

    March 25, 2011 at 9:18 am

    I also had a hard time when I went to O’russey. They don’t know the English names for the colors. Kaya turo-turo nalang kami. Hahaha! Ilista ko nga yung khmer names..hehehe. Thank you!

    1. Lui

      March 25, 2011 at 10:46 am

      me too. i have it in the small notepad you gave us hehe..

  2. Christina

    March 26, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    Hi Lui! Pink is ‘phoa p’kar chouk’ which literally translates as ‘lotus flower color’. P’kar is flower and chouk is lotus. Pretty description I think 🙂

    1. Lui

      March 26, 2011 at 7:43 pm

      hi Christina.. haven’t emailed u in awhile, things have gotten badly hectic for me. how are you?

      yup, thanks for the added info. i now realize Khmer language is actually easy. like T’Nout for brown is also palm fruit, Teuk Kre-wt for orange is also the mandarin orange. I think expanding my Khmer vocabulary is a good route hehe..

      i just used a rough ‘sound approximation’. this is actually the first color i learned coz I keep hearing it from my daughter. =)

  3. Christina

    March 28, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    Hehe, not surprising that pink and girls go together 😉 I have heard some of my friends say ‘sokola’ (chocolate) when refering to brown also. It may be an alternative word. I didn’t know t’nout is palm fruit, thanks for teaching me 😀 I’m doing great here. Lots of new but welcome changes this year. Keep in touch!

    1. Lui

      March 29, 2011 at 8:59 am

      hi Christina, will email you. Glad to know you’ve been well. We should really meet one of these days.

  4. Yoona

    April 7, 2012 at 9:03 pm

    Hi, I was wondering if you know how to say teal and turquoise in Khmer?

    1. Lui

      April 10, 2012 at 6:13 pm

      @yoona, im sorry but i don’t teal/turquoise in khmer.

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