Colour word learning has traditionally been viewed as a difficult task. Previous accounts have focussed on infants’ ability to show an adult-like understanding of colour terms. Here we examine whether infants understand colour terms at a basic level, using two different methods: evidence from parental reports that British infants can comprehend colour terms early, second from experimental data using eye-tracking. These finding show that colour word learning is a process that begins much earlier than previously thought, and develops slowly as infants learn where the boundaries of each term are located. Due to their abstract properties, colour words present a unique opportunity to assess category learning in infants, as well as the mechanisms that control word learning in general.