I figured that I could at least do a dry run of testing some of the associations I've heard before (orange is associated with appetite was something I heard years ago, and the more tenuous sounding association of purple with a sense of royalty -which just sounds like a regional cultural acquaintance).
So I fired up the Google and did an image search for lots of different terms to see how the interwebs have decided to associate images (which are just bunches of colored squares) with words. Here's what I got, which is more color practice than color theory, but an interesting tool nonetheless...
Then, as I was typing this VERY POST, Edward Tufte named the snapshot results of Google image searches "quilting," which is a pretty clever name. So you could say that these color tiles are a derivative of quilting.
1) Google image search a term, screenshot the results (now called "quilting"). Each term generates quilt of roughly 1,000 images. 2) Blur and saturate for basic mottling of colors and indication of contrast, 3) then a full averaging of all those Google image thumbnails (around 2 million pixels) into a single, average, color (you'll have to push the saturation to pull out all the gray and isolate only hue -I went 80%).
Not sure how to average all the colors? Neither was I, then I realized I could punt that to the image processor I was using (Fireworks) by scaling the quilt down to one pixel then scaling it back up. I suppose you could get very slightly different results depending on the program (and therefore re-sampling method used). Now you know all my secrets.
Pro Tip: if you are going to try this out, or even if you just want to do some Tufte quilting and stop there, your life will be so much easier if you change your browser's zoom to the smallest possible percentage so you can cram in more tiny images in one go rather than stitch together a bunch of larger screenshots.
More, Cooler Stuff
I've broken out some of these into individual term/color images which are over at our Flickr photostream. Also, because of the localization of Google search results, you can spoof other locations in the world to compare the cultural variability of color/term associations! The head spins.
Anyways, I have done enough painting in my life to know that the universe wants brown and the tendency of mixing a bunch of colors together will lead towards grayish brown. That's why I was surprised to see so many deviations from that neutral. An interesting follow up for someone with more chops than me would be to determine the extent and direction of each color tile's deviation from a web image "average" to score how how strongly the color/term association is -except when the association actually is brown.
I did a comparison of terms across five languages with Google's localized search pages. Also, because of the vagueness of the mixed color result, I included histograms to provide more insight into how an average color ended up that way. You can find that new graphic here.