English colour terms are a special group of the lexicon with properties of their own. Thus they can denote a colour, such as blue or orange and they can also be used metaphorically. Yet the number of the colour terms that freely generate figurative meanings is restricted to five terms: red, blue, green, black and white. Other colour terms such as purple or grey occur only in a few idiomatic phrases, as e.g. “born to the purple“ or “Grey Eminence“. Shakespeare made little use of colour terms in the plays Hamlet, Macbeth and Othello. He practically only used black and red. And even these terms he rarely used to denote the respective hue, they are predominantly used metaphorically. Moreover, for the colour black he also used the terms ’night’ or ’darkness’, for red occurs ’blood’ and other members of the wordfield of the concept killing. The present study attempts to investigate how Shakespeare made use of the properties of colour terms in dramatic texts and in his dialogue with actors on stage and spectators in the audience of an Elizabethan theatre where performances took place on an empty stage and in the afternoon in bright daylight.