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As the name of a color, violet (named after the flower violet) is used in two senses: first, referring to the color of light at the short-wavelength end of the visible spectrum, approximately 380–420 nm when indigo is recognized as a distinct color, or more commonly 380–450 nm (this is a spectral color). Second, violet may refer to a shade of purple, that is, a mixture of red and blue light, and not a spectral color (see a discussion of the distinction between violet and purple). Spectral violet is outside the gamut of typical RGB color spaces, and although it can be approximated by that color shown below as electric violet, it cannot be reproduced exactly on a computer screen.

The first recorded use of violet as a color name in English was in 1370.
Violet Flower

Approximations of spectrum violet

Although pure spectrum violet is outside the color gamut of the RGB color space, the three colors displayed below are close approximations of the range of colors of spectral violet.

Color wheel violet

The tertiary color on the RGB or HSV color wheel between blue and magenta is sometimes called violet. This shade of violet is shown at right.

Electric violet

The color at right is electric violet, the closest approximation to middle spectrum violet that can be made on a computer screen, given the limitations of the sRGB color gamut within the CIE chromaticity diagram. When plotted on the CIE chromaticity diagram, this color would have approximately the hue of a visual stimulus of about 400 nm on the spectrum, in the middle of the violet part of the spectrum. Thus another name for this color is middle violet.

Vivid violet

Displayed at right is the color vivid violet, a color approximately equivalent to the violet seen at the extreme edge of human visual perception. When plotted on the CIE chromaticity diagram, it can be seen that this is a hue corresponding to that of a visual stimulus of approximately 380 nm on the spectrum. Thus another name for this color is extreme violet.

Other variations of violet

Pigment violet (web color dark violet)

The color box at right displays the web color dark violet which is equivalent to pigment violet, i.e., the color violet as it would typically be reproduced by artist's paints, colored pencils, or crayons as opposed to the brighter "electric" violet above that it is possible to reproduce on a computer screen.

Compare the subtractive colors to the additive colors in the two primary color charts in the article on primary colors to see the distinction between electric colors as reproducible from light on a computer screen (additive colors) and the pigment colors reproducible with pigments (subtractive colors); the additive colors are a lot brighter because they are produced from light instead of pigment.

Pigment violet (web color dark violet) represents the way the color violet was always reproduced in pigments, paints, or colored pencils in the 1950s.By the 1970s, because of the advent of psychedelic art, artists became used to brighter pigments, and pigments called "Violet" that are the pigment equivalent of the electric violet reproduced in the section above became available in artists pigments and colored pencils. (When approximating electric violet in artists pigments, a bit of white pigment is added to pigment violet.)

Web color "violet"

The so-called web color "violet" is in actuality not really a tint of violet, a spectral color, but is a non-spectral color. The web color violet is actually a rather pale tint of magenta because it has equal amounts of red and blue (the definition of magenta for computer display), and some of the green primary mixed in, unlike most other variants of violet that are closer to blue. This same color appears as "violet" in the X11 color names.

Violet in culture




  • According to the Austin Museum of Art, the Greek lyric poet Pindar wrote "City of light, with thy violet crown, beloved of the poets, thou art the bulwark of Greece." In Geoffrey Trease's novel The Crown of Violet, the name is explained as referring to the mauve-tinted marble of the Acropolismarker hill.

New Age

  • The "New Age Prophetess", Alice Bailey, in her system called the Seven Rays which classifies humans into seven different metaphysical psychological types, the "seventh ray" of "Ceremonial Order" is represented by the color violet. People who have this metaphysical psychological type are said to be "on the Violet Ray".



See also


  1. Maerz and Paul A Dictionary of Color New York: 1930 McGraw-Hill Page 207
  2. Varichon, Anne Colors:What They Mean and How to Make Them New York:2006 Abrams Page 138
  3. Varley, Helen, editor Color London:1980—Marshall Editions, Ltd. ISBN 0-89535-037-8 Page 222
  4. Ellik, Ron and Evans, Bill (Illustrations by Bjo Trimble) The Universes of E.E. Smith Chicago:1966 Advent Publishers Page 250
  5. City of Austin: Austin History Center
  6. - Violet Crown Soap Company
  7. Bonewits, P.E.I. Real Magic New York:1971 Berkley Medallion Page 141
  8. Oslie, Pamalie Life Colors: What the Colors in Your Aura Reveal Novato, California:2000—New World Library Violet Auras: Pages 130-144
  9. Stevens, Samantha. The Seven Rays: a Universal Guide to the Archangels. City: Insomniac Press, 2004. ISBN 1894663497 pg. 24
  10. "St. Germain" (dictated through Elizabeth Clare Prophet) Studies in Alchemy: the Science of Self-Transformation 1974:Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA Summit Lighthouse Pages 80-90 [Occult] Biographical sketch of St. Germain

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