Redheads, though rare, are variegated: They come in many colours. Some terms we can use to describe redheadeness:

  1. metallic
  2. copper or cupric
  3. ruddy
  4. brownish
  5. strawberry
  6. fawny
  7. sandy
  8. flaming
  9. orange
  10. ginger
  11. golden
  12. yellow
  13. straw
  14. cinnamon
  15. rust
  16. carrot

...which we can map out thus (or see white-background version):

A grid showing correspondences among terms to describe redheadeness on two axes, light/dark and brown/red

Physical characteristics

Hair colour is only one indicator of redheadedness, just as some black bears are brown. A ruddy beard is not sufficient. However, hair on the head in an approved shade, plus brows, lashes, and facial hair of the same or related shades, are sufficient.

Redheads may or may not have freckles (the genes tend to be either/or). The skin may seem as if vacuum-packed in plastic. Eyelids may be puffy-looking. Eyes tend toward blue, though brown eyes don’t disqualify you, and genuinely green eyes, as bright and almost as tangible as the dyed cherries you find in a supermarket, confer bonus points.

Hair on the rest of the body might or might not be red. (It’s rarely the same colour on Caucasians of other head-hair types.) This kind of variegation is one of the chief glories of the redhead look. In summertime, Daniel Alfredsson, the Swedish hockey player, exhibits at least five colours of hair. Swoon.

“The legal definition”

A related concept is “he meets the legal definition.” While the parts may not constitute redheadeness, the sum of the parts does – e.g., sandy-blond hair, but puffy eyelids, fawny eyelashes (more on those in History), freckles, and plastic skin.

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