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What Color Is Your Name? How People With Synesthesia See Your Name

Photo: TikTok
Color/name association

TikTokers with synesthesia have stirred up a new trend linking colors to names and now, even people who don't have the condition can get in on the action.

According to Psychology Today, synesthesia is a neurological condition that causes senses to overlap. The most common form of the condition is grapheme-color synesthesia which causes individuals to associate letters and numbers with colors. 

“Simply put, when one sense is activated, another unrelated sense is activated at the same time,” Psychology Today explains. “This may, for instance, take the form of hearing music and simultaneously sensing the sound as swirls or patterns of color.”

TikTok users with synesthesia have been sharing what colors they see in certain names.

One TikToker with synesthesiaLisa McKinley, has amassed over 111,000 followers thanks, in part, to her videos in which she shows followers colorful paintings that she associates with certain names.

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But plenty of other people on the video-sharing app have shared similar videos.

Another user, Connor Rice, even sells paintings he makes inspired by the colors he associates with certain names and sells them to his followers.



One woman with synesthesia has even taken things one step further than the TikTok trend, designing a website that allows those of us without the condition to learn what colors connect to our names. 

On the website, visitors can plug their names into a program that translates each letter into a color, like someone with the condition would see.

The website is a project by Bernadette Sheridan who created the platform to explain what she sees in certain letters.

“When I meet new people, I forget their name immediately,” Sheridan explains on the site. “Don’t get me wrong, I hear the name, but my mind is distracted. In my head, I am counting the number of letters in the name, and visualizing the colors of each letter.

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“Your name may be Emily, but to me, you’re a bright, sunny swath of five letters with an ‘E’ and an I.’ When I meet you again later, I may think your name is Emily or Jille or Ellie. Those three names ‘look’ remarkably similar to someone who operates as I do — they all have five letters, they all include the letters ‘i,’ ‘l,’ and ‘e.’”

The website is specifically based on how Sheridan experiences synesthesia.

While some symbols have universal translations, such as “a” matching up with red, every person with synesthesia experiences their own “color alphabet.”

This explains why different TikTokers covering the trend may come up with different results for each name.

Some creators have even gotten super specific with the images they see in names thanks to their synesthesia which only makes the trend even more fun!



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Jonathan Alfano is a writer who focuses on news and entertainment topics. Follow him on Twitter to keep up with his content.

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