Beige is a very pale grayish-brown or off-white color. The term "beige" comes from French, and it originally referred to a type of cotton fabric that was left in its natural state instead of going through a bleaching or dying process. Because beige is a neutral color, it has a reputation as boring. But subtle differences in beige can change the feeling it gives off, especially combined with other colors.
Desert sand might be more well-known to most people than they think; most of the old "beige" phones and office equipment we see are actually desert sand, not true beige. Desert sand is a deeper, somewhat warmer shade of beige. It is derived from a color originally called "desert."
Ecru is probably the most similar to beige. It also comes from a French word meaning "raw" -- which refers to the unbleached state of the cloth that bears this color. The word is used to describe fabrics such as silk or linen in their unbleached state. Ecru has more of a yellow tint than pure beige does; it is a yellowish-grey and, hence, is a cooler color than true beige (which is on the warm side of neutral).
French Beige is somewhat darker than true beige. It is also more distinctively brown. It is a warmer color, with hints of mauve or greyish-purple. It goes well with purple or silver. While true beige is related to white, French beige is related more closely to brown. Many eyeshadow and lipstick manufacturers market versions of this color.
Mode beige is a significantly darker shade of beige. It is more obviously brown than true beige. Alternate names for this color are "drab" and "sand dune." Previously, the word "drab" was most often used to describe this color. The term "mode beige" is a phrase of the fashion industry, which revitalized the color by giving it a stylish new name.
Many other shades are closely related to beige and may be substituted for beige. Some of these are putty, ivory, cream, bronze, fawn, taupe, camel, buff, khaki, sand, tan, oatmeal and matte. If you go to a paint store, you will find others too numerous to list.