Time units-colour

A type of coloured sequence synesthesia

Subtypes include coloured days, months and years

This type of synesthesia consists of perceiving a concurrent of colour for different time units. The main sequences that trigger these synesthetic colour associations are days of the week, months, seasons, years, decades and centuries. A synesthete can have colours for only one of these categories, for any number of them or even for all of them at once. The colour perceptions are involuntary and automatic and the colours perceived remain stable throughout the synesthete’s lifetime.

According to Sean Day's study on the prevalence of the different types of synesthesia, around 23% of all synesthetes might have this type and it is therefore one of the most common.

For many, the colours perceived also have texture and/or shape or they might form patterns consisting of more than one colour. If each day, month, etc. is always perceived not only in its corresponding colour and shape but also in a specific, unalterable position in space, this could indicate that the synesthete has spatial sequence synesthesia, when it takes the form of a kind of visual calendar in the space around them.

Sometimes this type of synesthesia is confused with grapheme-colour. If the colour evoked by the time unit is the same as that of the letters (graphemes) that make up its name, the synesthete might in fact have this latter type. For a grapheme-colour synesthete, for example, the word “Tuesday” might be yellow because yellow is the colour of the letter “t”. However, if the concept of Tuesday as a day of the week is not yellow but instead brown, red or another colour, this would show that they also have time unit-colour synesthesia. The same applies to numbers: if for one synesthete in particular the ordinal number 2,000 is yellow, for example (because that is the colour of all numbers starting with 2) but the concept of the year 2000 is another colour such as purple, the synesthete would have both time unit-colour and grapheme-colour synesthesia.



Two examples:

Left (colour): created by Amy, in the Gallery of the website Sensequence
Right (colours, patterns): created by Lonely-dude, in this post on the platform Reddit/Synesthesia

There are cases of people who carry their day-colour synesthesia to the extreme, always wearing clothes or underwear of the colour of the particular weekday, while others are constantly aware of the colour in question throughout the day and others simply remember the colour when they read, hear or think about the name of the day.


Example created by Emma, in the Gallery of the website Sensequence

Year-colour, decade-colour, century-colour

Years, decades and centuries can also have specific colours. For example, the year 1994 might be pillar-box red and 2016 white; the concept of the 1940s might be dark blue and the 1950s grey; the nineteenth century could be black and the eighteenth century mustard yellow.

Example created by leprechaunboi70, in this post on the platform Reddit/Synesthesia.

Go to the page on coloured sequence synesthesia (concept-colour)

Go to the page on calendar synesthesia (seeing the days, months, years etc. around you in space)

Go to the page on spatial sequence synesthesia in general (calendar/numbers/letters)

Go to the page on grapheme-colour synesthesia

This page is about time units-color synesthesia

This page is about time units-colour synaesthesia

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