The Color Naming Rule is a set of guidelines that define how characters in the world of RWBY are named. The rules were first revealed by series creator Monty Oum as a guide for naming fan-created original characters. Virtually all canon characters follow the rule.
The rules state that names of characters in RWBY must be at least one of the following:
- A color
- Sound like a color
- Mean a color
- Makes people think of a color
Characters usually have a distinguishing feature (clothing or hair/eye color) that matches their namesake, but this is not always the case.
In addition, all team names must be a four-letter acronym that spells a word that also abides by the above criteria.
During the Great War, one side destroyed art as part of their goal of suppressing all forms of self-expression. In defiance, those who opposed this tyranny began naming their children after a fundamental aspect of art - color. This symbolic gesture demonstrated that neither they nor the generations to come would tolerate such oppression. The latter group eventually prevailed, and the tradition of naming children after colors continues into the present day.
Barring some exceptions, all characters follow the color naming rule. However, exactly how the names of certain characters allude to colors is not always clear. This list attempts to extrapolate the intended connection in cases where it is not immediately apparent.
This list groups most characters of the show either by Team or association. All team names are four-letter acronyms that spell a word that is a color, sounds like a color, means a color or is evocative of a color.
Ruby is a red-colored gemstone and a shade of red. The first four trailers released for RWBY, "Red", "White", "Black" and "Yellow", all shared a color theme that corresponded to one member of the eponymous Team RWBY. The lyrics of the song "Red Like Roses" refers to each of the four team members of Team RWBY by their color.
- Ruby Rose - Ruby is a gemstone known for its red coloration. Roses are a flower known to come in red varieties, as referenced by her music theme, "Red Like Roses". Ruby also alludes heavily to the fairytale character Little Red Riding Hood. She also first appeared in the "Red" Trailer.
- Weiss Schnee - Weiss or weiß is a German word meaning "white". Schnee means "snow" in the same language. Weiss also alludes to the fairytale character Snow White, and first appeared in the "White" Trailer.
- Blake Belladonna - Blake is an Old English word meaning "black". Belladonna, or Atropa belladonna, is a plant known for its incredibly toxic berries which also have a dark purple to black coloration. Blake also first appeared in the "Black" Trailer.
- Yang Xiao Long - Yang (阳) means "sun" in Chinese, which is evocative of the color yellow. Yang first appeared in the "Yellow" Trailer. Her fairytale allusion is Goldilocks, who is distinguished by her hair color.
The Juniper plant bears blue berries and is known for the vivid yellow color that its leaves turn in autumn.
- Jaune Arc - Jaune is French for "yellow". "Arc" may be taken from "arc-en-ciel", French for "rainbow". Fittingly, some of his possessions, most notably his shield, have a symbol of a rainbow on them.
- Nora Valkyrie - Speculative: Nora is possibly named after the Nora Barlow columbine, a flower with a vibrant pink coloration. On RWBY merchandise, her emblem is often colored pink.
- Pyrrha Nikos - "Pyrrha" is derived from the Greek adjective pyrrhos (πυρρός), which means "flame-colored". Monty has also stated that she was named for her hair.
- Lie Ren - Speculative: Ren is Japanese for "lotus", a plant known for its bright pink flowers and green leaves. Ren's outfit is patterned after this color scheme, and on RWBY merchandise, his emblem is often colored pink.
Cardinal is a shade of red and a bird, the males of which have feathers with a brilliant red coloration.
- Cardin Winchester - Cardinal is a shade of red. It is also the common name of a species of bird with a rich red coat of feathers.
- Russel Thrush - Speculative: Russel is a name that means red. The Riesling wine grapes are sometimes called russel. Thrush is a type of bird and most species are gray or brown in color.
- Dove Bronzewing - Bronze is a color, named after the metal alloy of the same name that has the same coloration. Speculative: Doves are also a bird species known for their pure white color. Another form of dove, known as a Bronzewing, has feathers colored bronze.
- Sky Lark - The sky appears blue during daytime. There is also a shade of blue known as sky blue. Speculative: Skylark is a type of bird with a brown body.
Coffee is a beverage with a characteristic brown coloration.
- Coco Adel - Speculative: Coco is possibly named after the cocoa plant, which comes in a variety of colors but is mostly associated with its brown color when roasted.
- Fox Alistair - Speculative: Foxes are a carnivore species known for their reddish-brown or red-orange colored fur.
- Velvet Scarlatina - Scarlatina is derived from "scarlet", a shade of red.
- Yatsuhashi Daichi - Speculative: Yatsuhashi are a Japanese treat, often colored a warm brown tone. Daichi means 'earth' or 'ground' in the same language, which also implies a brown color.
The Sun is a yellow star.
- Sun Wukong - The Sun is usually associated with its yellow color. Sun's namesake is often associated or is evocative of the color gold.
- Scarlet David - Scarlet is a shade of red with traces of orange.
- Sage Ayana - The leaves of the sage plant, when dried up, adopt a brown-green color that is known as "sage" or "sage green".
- Neptune Vasilias - Speculative: Neptune is an ice giant planet in the solar system with a deep blue color. Neptune is also the Roman God of the Sea, which is evocative of the blue color of the ocean.
The team acronym, and thus its pronunciation, is currently unknown.
- Penny Polendina - Speculative: Penny's name can bring to mind the color of copper, which pennies are coated in. It can also bring to mind the green color (verdigris) that copper takes on when it is oxidized. Polendina is the derogatory nickname given to Pinocchio's creator, Geppetto, due to the resemblance his yellow wig bears to polenta in the original story.
- Ciel Soleil - Speculative: Ciel's name is French. Ciel means "sky" or "Heaven", the former being blue and the latter bringing white to mind. Soleil is French for "sun", which is commonly considered yellow in color.
Stark White is a shade of white.
- Summer Rose - Roses are a type of flower that are usually a red color, but also exist in white varieties.
- Taiyang Xiao Long - Like his daughter Yang, his name Tai Yang (太阳) refers to Sun, which is yellow.
- Raven Branwen - Ravens are birds known for their black feathers. Branwen is Welsh, meaning "blessed white raven/crow", which corresponds to her first name.
- Qrow Branwen - Crows are birds known for their black feathers. Branwen is Welsh, meaning "blessed white raven/crow", which corresponds to his first name.
Auburn refers to a reddish-brown color, especially with reference to hair.
- Arslan Altan - Altan means "red dawn" in Turkish and "golden" in Mongolian. Speculative: Arslan is Turkish for "Lion". Lions are feline animals, with light yellow fur.
- Bolin Hori - Hori roughly translates to "yellow" in Basque.
- Reese Chloris - Chloris is derived from the Greek word chloros (χλωρός) meaning "green", especially in relation to youth and vigor. Speculative: Reese is an Old English name which means "fiery or ardent" which bring fiery and warm colors to mind.
- Nadir Shiko - Speculative: When said together, Nadir Shiko's first and last names sound like Nadeshiko, the Japanese name for a family of pink flowers commonly known as carnations.
Bronze is a type of metal alloy with a characteristic brownish tint.
- Brawnz Ni - Brawnz sounds like "bronze", a metal alloy characterized by its brownish tinge. Miles and Kerry have also stated that he specifically alludes to the Fairly OddParents character Bronze Kneecap.
- Roy Stallion - Speculative: Stallions are adult male horses, usually depicted with a brown coat. The name Roy is also believed to be connected to an old Gaelic word for red.
- Nolan Porfirio - Porfirio comes from the Greek Porphyry (Πορφύριος), meaning "purple clad".
- May Zedong - Miles and Kerry referred to her name as being a reference to a purple mushroom. Speculative: This could be in reference to Zhidong, a mushroom known for its reddish-purple cap.
Indigo is the color between blue and violet within the light spectrum.
- Nebula Violette - Violette is French for the flower viola. It is also the feminine French form of the word violet. Speculative: Nebulae can be seen in a deep violet color, amongst others.
- Dew Gayl - Speculative: Dew commonly forms on grass, which is typically green.
- Gwen Darcy - Speculative: Gwen is a Welsh name for "white" or "holy". Darcy is an Irish name, which translates to "dark one".
- Octavia Ember - Speculative: Embers are small flames or smoldering pieces of wood, which can be reddish-orange in color. Speculative: Octavia is the name of a species of raspberries, rubus idaeus. Raspberries are magenta/red in color.
Funky- Speculative: may evoke multiple colors associated with disco music.
- Flynt Coal - Speculative: Flynt's name refers to a dull gray color also found in his clothing. His last name, Coal, is a deep black substance used as fuel for fires.
- Neon Katt - Speculative: Neon alludes to neon lights, which are glass tubes filled with neon gas, illuminating in a bright orange color.
- Adam Taurus - Speculative: āḏām is linked to its triliteral root אָדָם (a-d-m), meaning "red". As a masculine noun, adam means "man", "mankind". The noun adam is also the masculine form of the word adamah which means "ground", "earth" or "clay". It is related to the words: adom (red), admoni (ruddy), and dam (blood).
- Sienna Khan - Sienna is itself a color, defined both as a "brownish-yellow" and a "reddish-brown".
- Ilia Amitola - Amitola is said to be either the Sioux or Cherokee word for "rainbow". Speculative: Ilia is the name of a species of butterfly, Apatura ilia, or the lesser purple emperor butterfly, bringing the color purple to mind.
- Ghira Belladonna - Like his daughter, his last name, Belladonna, is a plant known for its incredibly toxic purple to black berries.
- Kali Belladonna - Kali is Hindi for "black".
- Jacques Schnee - Like the rest of his family, his last name means "snow" in German. Speculative: His maiden name means "frost" in French.
- Winter Schnee - Winter is a season known for snow, which is white. Schnee means "snow" in German.
- Whitley Schnee - Whitley means "white meadow". Schnee means "snow" in German.
- Emerald Sustrai - Emeralds are a green gemstone. Speculative: Sustrai means "roots" in Basque, which are typically evocative of a woody brown.
- Mercury Black - Black is a color. Mercury is a heavy silver-colored metal that is liquid at room temperature and is also known as "quicksilver".
- Roman Torchwick - Speculative: Roman's name and weapon could relate to the famous Roman candle firework which is normally associated with the color of fire (though it can be any number of common firework colors). Torch also brings to mind the colors of flame. Wick could also mean the wick of a candle, bringing flame and candles to mind.
- Neopolitan - Neapolitan is a flavor of ice cream that combines strawberry (pink), chocolate (brown) and vanilla (white) flavors. Neo's eyes are capable of switching between these three colors, and her hair and outfit also follow this color scheme.
- Salem - Speculative: Salem is a rosemary cultivar with pale-blue flowers. Salem herself does not have to follow the rule in-universe due to having existed for thousands of years before the Great War.
- Arthur Watts - Speculative: A watt is a unit for measuring electrical power, and electricity brings to mind the color yellow.
- Tyrian Callows - Speculative: Tyrian likely refers to Tyrian purple, which is defined as an ancient crimson or purple dye obtained from gastropod mollusks.
- Cinder Fall - Speculative: Fall is the American name for autumn, a season usually associated with tree leaves turning red, orange and yellow. Cinders are the product of combustion, also evoking flame-like imagery.
- Hazel Rainart - Hazel is itself a color, defined as "a color that combines light brown with green and gray".
- Glynda Goodwitch - Speculative: "Glynda" is based from the name "Glenda"; the name is originally coined in Welsh's glân ("holy, fair") and da ("good"). The concepts derived from Glynda's name, namely "holy" and "good" are often associated with the color white.
- Peter Port - Speculative: Peter is derived from the Greek word Πέτρος (Petros), meaning stone. Port may refer to port wine, which is typically a red coloration.
- Bartholomew Oobleck - Speculative: In Dr. Seuss' children's book Bartholomew and the Oobleck, oobleck is a green sticky substance.
- Hei "Junior" Xiong - Hei (黑) is Chinese for "black".
- Melanie Malachite - Melanie is a Greek name derived from melania (μελανία) which means "blackness". Malachite is a mineral name derived from molochitis lithos (Μολοχίτης λίθος) which means "mallow-green stone". Appropriately, she has green eyes.
- Miltiades Malachite - Miltiades (Μιλτιάδης) is a Greek name which means "red earth". Like her sister, she also has the green eyes appropriate to her last name.
- James Ironwood - Iron is a metallic chemical element with a silvery-gray luster. "Ironwood" is a common name for a large number of woods known for their hardness ("Ironwood" may or may not also refer to the tree that yields said wood).
- Klein Sieben - Speculative: His first name is likely derived from International Klein Blue, a color created by French artist, Yves Klein.
- Tukson - His name is likely derived of the Spanish given name Tucson, which means "black base".
- Amber - Amber is a fossilized form of resin, a substance produced by trees. Its appearance has made its name a common color in its own right, defined as "a dark orange-yellow color".
- Cyril Ian - When said together, his name sounds like "cerulean", a deep blue.
- Lisa Lavender - Her last name, "Lavender", is the name of a light shade of purple.
- Lagune - Speculative: His last name is derived from "Lagoon", which are small bodies of water.
- Professor Peach - Peaches are fruits with pink or orange flesh.
- Perry - Speculative: "Perry" is the name of an alcoholic beverage made from fermented pears.
- Spruce Willis - Spruces are a type of Pinacacea, characterized by light green leaves and almost white wood.
- Marcus Black - Like his son, his surname is literally a color.
- Henry Marigold - Marigolds are flowers with orange petals or some other combination of yellow and red.
- Oscar Pine - Speculative: "Oscar" is a species of fish, which comes in sub-species and different types of colors, including yellow or velvety brown varieties. "Oscar Gold" is also a color, based on the color of the famous Oscar statues. Pine is a species of evergreen tree, which are evocative of green colors.
- Merlot - Merlot is a type of grape most notably used in the making of red wine.
- Interestingly, Ozpin was explicitly stated as the only character who does not follow the Color Naming Rule by Monty, the only character officially confirmed as such. Monty enigmatically attributes this to "reasons". The reason for this was revealed in "Unforeseen Complications", when Ozpin stated he walked the surface of Remnant for thousands of years. Regardless of this claim, Ozpin alludes to the Wizard of Oz, who is associated with the color green, a color which is prominently represented in Ozpin's wardrobe as well as in his deep green Aura.
- Weapons and locations do not seem to follow the Color Naming Rule either. The Color Naming Rule also does not seem to apply to pet animals, since Zwei's name does not reference any color.
- The Color Naming Rule is referenced in "The Next Step" whilst Ren and Nora are discussing whether to call Team RNJR "Team JNRR" instead, with Ren stating that JNRR does not refer to a color.