You’ve heard of haint blue, but you’re not sure what that is. “Haint blue” not a misspelling. And it’s not an exact color, either. It is, however, a unique hue from Southern folklore used to keep ghouls and demons out of your home.

Before you can understand what haint blue means, though, you need to know what a haint is.

Where did the word “haint” come from?

The word “haint” originated among the Gullah people in the Lowcountry of South Carolina. It sounds a lot like the word “haunt” for a reason. You see, a haint is a spirit or ghost that you don’t want coming around to bother you.

Over time, the word haint drifted into the lexicon of other groups living in South Carolina, and then into other states. Now, you’ll hear the word throughout the American Southeast. “Haint” is used in abundance in my home in the Tennessee Appalachians.

I like to argue that haint specifically refers to scary stuff. Happy ghosts, good entities, and Grandma’s spirit tottering around in the attic would not be considered haints. A haint is something you don’t want in your house. And, where I grew up, a haint could also refer to something less—definable, such as a demonic spirit or an evil witch.

What is haint blue?

Haint blue is a light, sky-colored blue that keeps the nasties away. Because a haint can’t cross water. And when the haint sees this blue color, it gets all confused and thinks it’s next to a pond or ocean or something and goes away. Therefore, if you want to keep the haints out, you paint your porch ceiling this light blue color. Next time you visit a home in the south and see the porch ceiling painted this way, you’ll know why.

What is haint blue on a porch ceiling
A haint blue ceiling on a southern porch

Throughout the south, and especially in the Lowcountry and Savannah, it’s common to see window frames and door frames painted this blue color as well. After all, not all homes have porches, and haints like to come in through the doors and windows. But they can’t if they see that blue color in the way.

what is haint blue on a log cabin?
Haint blue window frames spotted on a log cabin in Roswell, GA

What else can keep haints out besides the blue color?

If the haints do get in before you have a chance to paint your door frames, don’t you fret. You can always paste newspaper to your walls in lieu of wallpaper, and that gets the haints all confused and stuck. Haints like to read every word when they see a paper—they’ll be glued to that wall for ages.

what is haint blue?
What is haint blue, in brief.

You can also make a lot of clatter in your home to drive the haints away. Haints hate noise. Grab that old kettle and skillet and go to town banging on them with a metal spoon. Haints begone!

And once you’ve driven all the boogers away, go to your local paint store and get you a gallon of haint blue paint. Almost every place has their own concoction of this magical color. It’s soothing, it’s Southern, and it will keep the haints where they belong—away from your home.

Watch a haint blue cabin come to life!