What does it mean “to pink” something, and how did the color become associated with Valentine’s Day?

pink flowers

You are minding your own business in the grocery store when — wham! Pink hearts and candies placed at eye level by merchants remind you that once again, Valentine’s Day is here.

Why pink? How did pink become so strongly associated with February 14, roses, and romance?

The word pink dates back to the 1570s, when “to pink” meant to create a small cut or perforation, such as on a decorated edge (think pinking shears).

The story of pink’s link to color is an incredible story of linguistic conversion. That’s the concise way to say the word started out as a verb, became a noun, and, after that, an adjective.

Let’s not forget that small but crucial part of your hand, the pinkie. Learn what it has to do with the color pink, here.

The Dutch associated pinck oogen, “small eyes,” with the small, delicate flowers of the Dianthus, whose petals look distinctly perforated or crimped. Common names for Dianthus include carnation and pink, which lead to pink’s association with two more ideas: the color of the flower and the idea of the flower as perfection. Perfection is what Shakespeare’s Mercutio is referring to in Romeo and Juliet when he says, “Nay, I am the very pink of curtesie.”

At the point where scholars pinpoint the first attribution of pink as a color, around 1681, people could not stop talking about it. In Elizabethan England, pink hose were all the fashion for men. Fortunately, Sumptuary Laws, which determined the color of clothing people wore by their social status, made pink available to both the upper and lower classes.

In the 1920s pink started to be used for the marketing of products for boys.  The color was considered appropriate for boys, full of energy, not yet mature enough for the full heat of the color red. Conversely, baby blue was associated with girls as a soft, mild color, and one strongly associated with the Virgin Mary. Post-WWII these associations switched, with pink directed at products for girls and blue for boys.

So why did pink become associated with Valentine’s Day? Our speculation concludes that a combination of pink as perfection, a tiny flower, and the term for crimping as on Valentine cards created an unstoppable combo.

What do you think? Is the pendulum of pink’s associations swinging back to masculinity? What other associations does pink inspire for you? Let us know.

ArvinMeritor and Axle Alliance Company sign memorandum of understanding.(Industry News)(Axle Alliance Co.)(Brief Article)

Fleet Equipment September 1, 2004 ArvinMaritor, Inc. announces that it has signed a memorandum of understanding with Axle Alliance Co. (AAC), a subsidiary of Daimler Chrysler (DCX) headquartered in Detroit, Mich. Under the terms of the proposed long-term agreement, ArvinMeritor would become the turnkey supplier in providing heavy-duty tandem rear drive axles to AAC, ultimately for Freightliner’s North American Class 8 truck assembly operations.

Implementation of this memorandum is subject to the execution of a definitive agreement. site memorandum of understanding

With this memorandum of understanding, ArvinMeritor will partner with AAC on the design, development and assembly of heavy-duty axles from ArvinMeritor facilities in York, S.C., Monterrey, Mexico, and Asheville, N.C.

ArvinMeritor and AAC have had a cooperative working relationship for more than five years, together bridging the gap between American and European axle technologies. ArvinMeritor and AAC will continue to work together in a partnership to successfully support the DaimlerChrysler worldwide truck axle platform strategy. go to website memorandum of understanding

“ArvinMeritor will continue to produce its own axle designs for Freightliner, and under this announced memorandum of understanding, we will become the turnkey supplier of a new line of proprietary AAC tandem axles,” said Tom Gosnell, president of ArvinMeritor’s Commercial Vehicle Systems business group. “This incremental relationship for ArvinMeritor has opened the door for growth in our axle component supply business around the world. We’re geared up to become a much larger player, and welcome the opportunity to demonstrate our global competitiveness to DCX.” Christof Traidl, president and CEO of Axle Alliance Company, said, “Axle Alliance Company–by partnering with ArvinMeritor–is securing a competitive launch of our product. Using ArvinMeritor’s existing resources, we will avoid redundant asset implementation and merge best practice methods from the two major axle players in the world.”


  1. Shawn -  February 25, 2014 - 4:25 pm

    I don’t agree. The color blue has always been assosiated with the male child. Even before different religions coalesed people revered the sky (blue and the gods) And the most important gender in the tribe or clan was the male. Hence blue for boys. It wasn’t until recent times (1800′s) that a color should be given to girls. Pink was dainty and of course smelled nice (flowers) so that color was chosen. Don’t ask me be whom, maybe a card company or dress maker. That’s what happened.

  2. Rebecca Nicholson -  February 13, 2014 - 10:14 pm

    That’s interesting that the colours of pink and blue for girls and boys were switched. Who’s to say what is feminine and masculine then. I think pink and Valentine’s as well as the colour red are so associated because red and pink (being a lighter shade of red in essence) that the whole imagery of the holiday is love and hearts and those colours are what make them subjects. So it is certainly fitting and so is the interesting etymology of it.

  3. wolf tamer and tree puncher -  December 11, 2013 - 4:37 am

    I wonder why the colors flipped.
    I’m a girl and my absolute favorite color is aqua green. That’s a combination of light blue and light green, with a little more green added. It’s so beautiful. I also like sea green and lime green. Yeah, I like the color green. Pink, not so much. It seems like a “girly girl” color and I’m not a girly girl. (Although I’m not a tomboy either…somewhere in the middle.) Minecrafters forever! :D

  4. Jonel -  February 25, 2011 - 10:01 am

    Real Mean wears pink!!!!!

  5. OUTWIT | BLOGCHI@mayopia.com -  February 21, 2011 - 4:07 pm

    [...] is a vessel for the use of holding ink — with the other writing pedantic or ostentatious in bright pink. — ‘President please’ help us learn em something — [...]

  6. alohahaha -  February 17, 2011 - 11:38 am

    I know more boys that favor pink than girls and more girls that favor blue than boys! They shouldn’t assaciate pink with female! I know more girls that like sea green and red and violet. They should make things rainbow so everyones happy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. catherine -  February 16, 2011 - 3:10 am

    Interesting…. Anyway, I do not see my husband wearing pink. But if the had the idea of playing a funny clown maybe pink would be the right color. Me, I am not crazy about this but I really like Pink…
    Have a nice day!

  8. lindsay -  February 14, 2011 - 7:39 pm

    i know a few boys that LOVE the color pink

  9. nciole -  February 9, 2011 - 2:32 pm

    great stuff thxs reminds me of my bf when he wanted to have some “fun” on valentine day

  10. nciole -  February 9, 2011 - 2:31 pm

    tihs in formation sucks

  11. nciole -  February 9, 2011 - 2:30 pm


  12. Michellle -  February 9, 2011 - 10:22 am

    My ex boyfriends fav. color was hot pink <3
    So is mine.
    He had almost everything in pink.It was kinda of a turn on (;

  13. Leslie Nivens -  February 9, 2011 - 8:16 am

    Reply to Alice Almeda–talk about odd!! Your description of yourself exactly fits me! Nurse, Scrabble, Bible study et al. Hard to believe!

  14. Wait for it.............MOO goes the chicken! -  February 9, 2011 - 7:35 am

    Jem on February 9, 2011 at 12:47 am
    Many are asking on this as to why pink was a boys colour, and blue a girls. This is just my opinion, I don’t want it to seem as if I’m trying to shove it down your throat or something. I think that blue was associated with girls because, as many would agree, that blue is a calming colour, not associated with hate or anger. Pink, on the other hand, is basically a pale red, red being a colour many group with anger and hate, hence the ‘pale red’ being masculine, and the blue being feminine.

    You make a really good point. Plus my two baby cousins(both boys And are only 2 and 5 months old) Love the color pink for some reason. We have blue toys and blankets but they want what their older sister(my 5 year old cousin) has even if it is pink!

  15. Jem -  February 9, 2011 - 12:47 am

    Many are asking on this as to why pink was a boys colour, and blue a girls. This is just my opinion, I don’t want it to seem as if I’m trying to shove it down your throat or something. I think that blue was associated with girls because, as many would agree, that blue is a calming colour, not associated with hate or anger. Pink, on the other hand, is basically a pale red, red being a colour many group with anger and hate, hence the ‘pale red’ being masculine, and the blue being feminine.

  16. mr lucky -  February 8, 2011 - 1:08 pm

    has anyone informed Pink?
    she may be interested
    however, it’s quite unlikely
    she would change her name to
    Baby Blue

  17. A careless mans careful daughter. -  February 8, 2011 - 10:21 am

    My dad told me that you never date girls well in my case a boy near any day where gift giving was invold so you dont have to get the other person something and if they got you something then you wouldnt feel bad if you didnt get them anything……i may only be 17 but i think my dad is right….some people and in my case boys are drama!

  18. DIVVIE -  February 8, 2011 - 7:21 am

    I have always thought the RED was the color associated with Valentine’s day. Thanks for the clarification.
    Recently I was searching for a pair of scissors and found pinking shears that had once belonged to my Mom. I had always wondered why these were called pinking shears. Once again, thanks for the information.

  19. Boo Boo :) -  February 8, 2011 - 4:57 am

    Pink is good.

  20. nawmu -  February 7, 2011 - 11:04 pm

    well..red is for love of husband and wife..
    white is for love of brothers and sisters…
    so pink is for my love to someone in between red and white…
    Happy valentine day!

  21. Lisa -  February 7, 2011 - 10:39 pm

    I once read that in the middle ages boys were associated with blue, the color of heaven, so that God could keep them safe. Girls were considered of the earth, pink (seems like it should have been brown,) and were less valuable so didn’t need God’s protection. Or maybe that was some feminist interpretation. Sounded plausible though.

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