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Short description: Color
About these coordinates     Color coordinates
Hex triplet#CC8899
ISCC–NBS descriptorDark pink

Puce is a dark red or purple brown color,[1] a brownish purple[2] or a "dark reddish brown."[3]


The colour is said to be the color of bloodstains on linen or bedsheets, even after being laundered, from flea droppings, or after a flea has been crushed.

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) dates the first English use of "puce" as a color to 1778.[4] The name comes from the French word puce, or flea, which comes from the Latin word for flea, pulex (stem pulic-). According to the Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology, the first French use of puce as a color name, meaning flea-color, dates to the 17th century.[5] A different source dates the first French use of puce as a color name to the 14th century.[6]


The color puce became popular in the late 18th century in France. It appeared in clothing at the Court of Louis XVI, and was said to be a favorite color of Marie Antoinette, though there are no portraits of her wearing it.[7][8][9]

Puce was also a popular fashion color in 19th-century Paris. In one of his novels, Émile Zola described a woman "dressed in a gown of a dark color...between puce and the color of goose poop (caca d'oie)."[10] Victor Hugo wrote in Les Misérables, "[...] Mademoiselle Baptistine gentle, slender, frail, somewhat taller than her brother, dressed in a gown of puce-colored silk, of the fashion of 1806, which she had purchased at that date in Paris, and which had lasted ever since."[11]

Variations of puce


About these coordinates     Color coordinates
Hex triplet#722F37
ISCC–NBS descriptorDark red

The color to the right is the color called puce in the ISCC-NBS Dictionary of Color Names (1955). Since this color has a hue code of 353, it is a slightly purplish red.

Puce (Maerz and Paul)

Puce (M&P)
About these coordinates     Color coordinates
Hex triplet#A95C68
SourceMaerz and Paul
ISCC–NBS descriptorModerate red

The color box to the right shows the color called puce in the 1930 book by Maerz and Paul, A Dictionary of Color;[12] the color puce is displayed on page 37, Plate 7, Color Sample H4.

Puce (Pourpre color list)

Puce (Pourpre color list)
About these coordinates     Color coordinates
Hex triplet#4E1609
ISCC–NBS descriptorDeep brown

At right is the color called puce in the Pourpre.com color list, a color list widely popular in France . This is the original puce, from which all other tones of puce ultimately derive.[citation needed]

Puce (Pantone)

Puce (Pantone)
About these coordinates     Color coordinates
Hex triplet#4F3A3C
SourcePantone TPX[13]
ISCC–NBS descriptorDark grayish reddish brown

The color at right is called puce in the Pantone color list.

The source of this color is the "Pantone Textile Paper eXtended (TPX)" color list, color #19-1518 TPX—Puce.[14]

In popular culture

  • In the vintage-bottle-collecting hobby, "puce" is amongst the most desirable colors.[15]
  • In the King Arthur legends, Sir Gareth fights Sir Perymones, who is called "The Puce Knight".[16][17]
  • In Santa Claus: The Movie (1985), Jeffrey Kramer's character, Towser, picks the color puce for the color of Patch the Elf's (Dudley Moore) lollipop. He describes the color as "like fuchsia, but a shade less lavender and a bit more pink." He also mentions to his boss, B.Z. (John Lithgow) that if the lollipop is a success, the company can come out with a "Puce Juice".[citation needed]
  • The comic strip Pogo had a running gag throughout much of 1962 involving "Puce Trading Stamps," a spoof of then-popular trading stamps, many of which were identified by their color.[18] The joke was that Puce Stamps could not be redeemed and were therefore worthless, sparing recipients the time needed to save them.

See also

  • List of colors


  1. Oxford English Dictionaries on-line
  2. Webster's New World Dictionary, Third College Edition: "a brownish purple."
    - Random House College Dictionary: "a dark or brownish purple,"
  3. "Brun rouge assez foncé." Le Petit Robert (1988).
  4. "puce" in Oxford English Dictionary, 3rd ed,
  5. The Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology, (1966) Oxford University Press
  6. Maerz and Paul A Dictionary of Color New York:1930 McGraw-Hill Page 202; Color Sample of Puce: Page 37 Plate 7 Color Sample H4--the color sample shown as puce in Maerz & Paul is a tone of puce halfway between the U.S. and U.K. versions of puce: Puce (Maerz & Paul)
  7. Clair, Kassia St (2017-10-24) (in en). The Secret Lives of Color. Penguin. ISBN 978-1-5247-0494-0. https://books.google.com/books?id=0gUEDgAAQBAJ&q=puce+color&pg=PT98. 
  8. "The Sexy-Gross Story of Puce" (in en). https://www.theawl.com/2017/10/the-sexy-gross-story-of-puce/. 
  9. Moonlight, Under The (2020-07-14). "Puce Was Once The Height Of 18th Century French Fashion For A Second" (in en). https://underthemoonlight.ca/2020/07/14/puce-was-once-popular-in-16th-century-france/. 
  10. "Vétue d'une robe sobre...entre le puce et le caca d'oie." Le Petit Robert.
  11. Wikisource:Les Misérables/Volume 1/Book Second/Chapter 2
  12. Maerz and Paul A Dictionary of Color New York: 1930 McGraw-Hill
  13. Type the word "Puce" into the indicated window on the Pantone Color Finder and the color appears.
  14. Pantone TPX Pantone Color Finder--Type the word "Puce" into the indicated window on the Pantone Color Finder and the color appears:
  15. von Mechow, Tod (September 30, 2010). "Bottle Attributes – Beer Bottle Colors". Soda & Beer Bottles of North America. http://www.sodasandbeers.com/SABBottleColorsBeer.htm. 
  16. Smith, Bret (December 25, 2008). "Paladin (Part 3C) – The Knights of the Round Table (con't)". The Grumblin' Grognard. http://grumblingrognard.blogspot.com/2008/12/paladin-part-3c-king-and-his-knights.html. 
  17. Search result, Puce Knight: Sir Thomas Malory; Keith Baines (October 12, 2001). Malory's Le Morte D'Arthur: King Arthur and the Legends of the Round Table : The Classic Rendition. Penguin. pp. 146, 147, 149, 152, 159. ISBN 978-0-451-52816-2. https://books.google.com/books?id=SYROxIlHkFYC. Retrieved December 3, 2011. 
  18. Kellt, Walt (2020). Pogo: Pockets Full of Pie, The Complete Syndicated Comic Strips, Vol. 7. Fantagraphics Books. pp. 326. ISBN 978-1-68396-376-9.