Color icon purple.svg
About these coordinates

— Color coordinates —

Hex triplet #800080
sRGBB (r, g, b) (128, 0, 128)
HSV (h, s, v) (300°, 100%, 50%)
Source HTML
B: Normalized to [0–255] (byte)

Purple is a range of hues of color occurring between red and blue,[1] and is classified as a secondary color as the colors (blue and red) are required to create the shade.

In color theory, "purple" is defined as any non-spectral color between violet and red (excluding violet and red themselves).[2]

In art, purple is acknowledged as the color on the color wheel between magenta and violet and its tints and shades.[3]


Etymology and definitions

The word 'purple' comes from the Old English word purpul which derives from the Latin purpura, in turn from the Greek πορφύρα (porphura),[4] name of the Tyrian purple dye manufactured in classical antiquity from a mucus secreted by the spiny dye-murex snail.[5][6]

The first recorded use of the word 'purple' in English was in the year A.D. 975.[7]


The hues of the Munsell color system, at varying values, and maximum chroma to stay in the sRGB gamut.

The Munsell color system is a color space that specifies colors based on three color dimensions: hue, value (lightness), and chroma (color purity), spaced uniformly in three dimensions in the elongated oval at an angle shaped Munsell color solid according to the logarithmic scale which governs human perception. In order for all the colors to be spaced uniformly, it was found necessary to use a color wheel with five primary colors—red, yellow, green, blue, and purple. The Munsell colors displayed are only approximate as they have been adjusted to fit into the sRGB gamut.

On a chromaticity diagram, the straight line connecting the extreme spectral colors (red and violet) is known as the line of purples (or 'purple boundary'); it represents one limit of human color perception. The color magenta used in the CMYK printing process is near the center of the line of purples, but most people associate the term "purple" with a somewhat bluer tone, such as is displayed by the color "electric purple" (a color also directly on the line of purples), shown below. Some common confusion exists concerning the color names "purple" and "violet". Purple is a mixture of red and blue light, whereas violet is a spectral color.

On the CIE xy chromaticity diagram, purple shades located on the straight line connecting the extreme colors red and violet; this line is known as the line of purples, or the purple line.[8][9]

Shades of purple

  • Computer web color purples

Purple (HTML/CSS color) (patriarch) is used in HTML and CSS actually is deeper and has a more reddish hue (#800080) than the X11 color purple known as purple (X11) (#A020F0), which is bluer and brighter. A traditional name sometimes used for this tone of purple is patriarch. The first recorded use of patriarch as a color name in English was in 1925.[10]

Purple (Munsell)
About these coordinates

— Color coordinates —

Hex triplet #9F00C5
RGBB (r, g, b) (159, 0, 197)
HSV (h, s, v) (288°, 100%, 77[11]%)
Source Munsell Color Wheel
B: Normalized to [0–255] (byte)
  • Electric purple

This shade is precisely halfway between violet and magenta, being the artistic definition of purple.[12] This shade has also been referred to by Robert Ridgway in his 1912 book Color Standards and Color Nomenclature as true purple.[13]

  • Fluorescent purple (phlox)

The pure essence of purple was approximated in pigment in the late 1960s by mixing fluorescent magenta and fluorescent blue pigments together to make fluorescent purple to use in psychedelic black light paintings. The shade is also referred to as phlox, as it is the color of the phlox flower. The first recorded use of phlox as a color name in English was in 1918.[14]

  • Han purple
  • Heliotrope

The color heliotrope is a brilliant tone of purple; it is a pink-purple tint that is a representation of the color of the heliotrope flower. The first recorded use of heliotrope as a color name in English was in 1882.[15]

  • Orchid
  • Purple (X11 color) (veronica)

The traditional name for this tone of purple is veronica. The first recorded use of veronica as a color name in English was in 1919.[16]

  • Royal Purple

The first recorded use of royal purple as a color name in English was in 1661.[17]

  • Thistle
Milk thistle flowerhead.

Thistle is a pale purplish color resembling the thistle plant. The first recorded use of Thistle as a color name in English was in 1892.[18] The color thistle is associated with Scotland as the thistle is the national flower of Scotland (Scotland's highest state decoration is also the Order of the Thistle).

  • Tyrian purple
  • Violet

The shade violet is a spectral color (approximately 380–420 nm), of a shorter wavelength than blue, while purple is a combination of red and blue or violet light.[19] The purples are colors that are not spectral colors – purples are extra-spectral colors. In fact, purple was not present on Newton's color wheel (which went directly from violet to red), though it is on modern ones, between red and violet. There is no such thing as the "wavelength of purple light"; it only exists as a combination.[2] Pure violet cannot be reproduced by a Red-Green-Blue (RGB) color system, but it can be approximated by mixing blue and red. The resulting color has the same hue but a lower saturation than pure violet. One psychophysical feature of the two colors that can be used to separate them is their appearance with increase of light intensity. Violet, as light intensity increases, appears to take on a far more blue hue as a result of what is known as the Bezold-Brücke shift.

In nature



The pansy flower has varieties that exhibit three different colors: pansy (a color between indigo and violet), pansy pink, and pansy purple. The first recorded use of pansy purple as a color name in English was in 1814.[21]


In culture

Academic dress

  • In the French academic dress system, the five traditional fields of study (Arts, Science, Medicine, Law and Divinity) are each symbolized by a distinctive color, which appears in the academic dress of the people who graduated in this field. Purple (usually a hue close to Royal Purple) is the distinctive color for Divinity. It is also worn by high academic officials (University President, Head of Faculty, Rector, etc.) regardless of the field in which they graduated.

Anti-apartheid movement


  • One of the stars in the Pleiades, called Pleione, is sometimes called Purple Pleione because, being a fast spinning star, it has a purple hue caused by its blue-white color being obscured by a spinning ring of electrically excited red hydrogen gas.[22]

Billiard games

  • Purple is the color of the ball in Snooker Plus with a 10-point value.
  • In the game of pool, purple is the color of the 4-solid and the 12-striped balls.


  • Purple is associated with Saturday on the Thai solar calendar. Anyone may wear purple on Saturdays and anyone born on a Saturday may adopt purple as their color.

Cultural associations

  • In parts of East Asian countries such as Japan, purple is known as the color of death.


The first recorded use of mulberry as a color name in English was in 1776.[23]



  • Porpora, or purpure, was not one of the usual tinctures in European heraldry, being added at a late date to bring the number of colors plus metals to seven, so that they could be given planetary associations. The classic early example of purpure is in the coat of arms of the Kingdom of León: argent, a lion purpure, as early as 1245.


  • Byzantine empresses gave birth in the Purple Chamber of the palace of the Byzantine Emperors. Therefore, being named Porphyrogenitus ("born to the purple") marked a dynastic emperor as opposed to a general who won the throne by his effort.
  • In China, the Chinese name of the Forbidden City literally means "purple forbidden city".



  • Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple, said, "Womanist is to feminist as purple is to lavender."
  • As a result of its association with royalty and luxury, the term purple is often used to describe pretentious or overly embellished literature. For example, a paragraph containing an excessive number of long and unusual words is called a purple passage (see Purple prose).


  • In April 2007 it was suggested that early archaea may have used retinal, a purple pigment, instead of chlorophyll, to extract energy from the sun. If so, large areas of the ocean and shoreline would have been colored purple; this is called the Purple Earth hypothesis.[25]


  • In the US and United Kingdom militaries, purple refers to programs or assignments that are "joint", i. e., that are not confined to a single service such as the army or navy, but apply to the entire defense establishment. In the Canadian Forces they are known as purple trades. Assignment to one or more joint billets is required for promotion to flag rank (Rear Admiral and higher) in the U.S. Navy. Officers in joint billets are sometimes referred to as "wearing purple" (the phrase is purely metaphorical as there are no purple uniforms in the U.S. armed forces, UK armed forces or Canadian Forces.)
  • During and before World War II, the Japanese used a code known as PURPLE or the Purple Code. The Allies' military successes in the Pacific theater depended on the fact that the Japanese did not know that Allied cryptographers had broken the code.
  • The Purple Heart is a US military decoration awarded in the name of the President of the USA to those who have been wounded or killed while serving on or after April 5, 1917 with the U.S. military.


  • More recently especially during Victorian times and even to some extent today, for the first year following a death ('deep mourning') black is worn by close relatives and this is gradually replaced by other dark colors (during 'half mourning'or 'Secondary Mourning'), often by purple or dark green trimmed with black Oxford University Museum – Funeral Clothing



  • People with purple auras are said to have a love of ritual and ceremony.[28]



  • Porphyrophobia is fear of the color purple.[30]


  • In Italy, since the global demonstration of 5th December 2009, purple has been used by a large civic movement protesting against Berlusconi's government, accused to be a media-dictatorship heavily connected with the Mafia. This color was chosen as a non-partisan emblem because it isn't associated with any current Italian party symbol. The movement, operating mainly through the web, thus defines itself Popolo Viola (Purple People).
  • In British politics, purple is used to represent the United Kingdom Independence Party, a right-wing Eurosceptic party.
  • In the politics of the Netherlands, Purple (Dutch: paars) means a coalition government consisting of liberals and social democrats (symbolized by the colors blue and red, respectively), as opposed to the more common coalitions of the Christian Democrats with one of the other two. Between 1994 and 2002 there were two Purple cabinets, both lead by Prime Minister Wim Kok.
  • In the Politics of Belgium, as with the Netherlands, a purple government includes liberal and social-democratic parties in coalition. Belgium was governed by Purple governments from 1999 to 2007 under the leadership of Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt.
  • In United States politics, a purple state is a state equally balanced between Republicans (currently symbolized by red) and Democrats (currently symbolised as blue).

Religious text

  • In the Byzantine Empire, Gospel manuscripts were written in gold lettering on parchment that was colored Tyrian purple.[31]


  • In early October 2010, Canadian teenager Brittany McMillan promulgated the observance of a new commemoration called Spirit Day, the first observance of which took place on October 20, 2010, in which people wear the color purple to show support for LGBT young people who are victims of bullying. Many Hollywood celebrities wore purple on this day to show their support of this cause.[32][33][34]
  • At the 24 June 2007 San Francisco Gay Pride Parade, Yahoo passed out 3 7/16" in diameter round plastic stickers with a picture of a gay man or woman imaged as one of the Yahoo Gay Pride avatars against an HTML/CSS Purple background that said Out, Proud, and Purple.[35]
  • The purple hand is an LGBT symbol that derives from an incident which occurred on Halloween night (31 October), 1969, when sixty members of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) and the Society for Individual Rights (SIR) staged a protest at the San Francisco Examiner in response to a series of news articles disparaging LGBT people in San Francisco's gay bars and clubs.

Transpersonal psychology

  • In 1976, a chart by Timothy Leary and Robert Anton Wilson called The Periodic Table of Energy outlining the philosophy of Dr. Timothy Leary (The Eight Circuit Model of Consciousness)[36] was given out by the Starflight Network, a group in Berkeley, California that was founded by Robert Anton Wilson to promulgate Dr. Timothy Leary's philosophy. The Eighth or Psycho-Atomic Circuit was represented on the chart by the color psychedelic purple.[37]

Transportation planning

  • The MBTA Commuter Rail in Boston is designated with purple markings, and thus is sometimes called the Purple Line.
  • The LACMTA Purple Line is a subway that goes down part of Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles that it has been proposed be extended all the way down Wilshire Boulevard to the Pacific Ocean.
  • The Chicago Transit Authority's "L" line from Linden Street in Wilmette to Howard Street or the Loop (depending on time of day) is known as the Purple Line.
  • The Philippine Light Rail Transit system in Metro Manila designate Line 2 as the Purple Line. Line 2 runs from Santolan in Pasig-Marikina area up to Recto in Manila. Other light transit systems in Metro were designated as the Blue Line (MRT-3, running along EDSA) and Yellow Line (running from Baclaran to Roosevelt Ave.).


See also


  1. ^ Mish, Frederic C., Editor in Chief Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary Springfield, Massachusetts, U.S.A.:1984--Merriam-Webster Page 957
  2. ^ a b P. U.P. A Gilbert and Willy Haeberli (2008). Physics in the Arts. Academic Press. p. 112. ISBN 0123741505. http://books.google.com/books?id=qSRqXvZ67lQC&pg=PA112. 
  3. ^ Graham, Lanier F. (editor) The Rainbow Book Berkeley, California: Shambhala Publications and The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (1976) (Handbook for the Summer 1976 exhibition The Rainbow Art Show which took place primarily at the De Young Museum but also at other museums) Portfolio of color wheels by famous theoreticians—see Rood color wheel (1879) p. 93
  4. ^ πορφύρα, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus
  5. ^ "Online Etymology Dictionary". http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=purple. 
  6. ^ purple, Oxford Dictionaries
  7. ^ Oxford English Dictionary, second edition
  8. ^ Charles A. Poynton (2003). Digital video and HDTV. Morgan Kaufmann. ISBN 1558607927. http://books.google.com/books?id=ra1lcAwgvq4C&pg=RA1-PA221. 
  9. ^ John Dakin and Robert G. W. Brown (2006). Handbook of Optoelectronics. CRC Press. ISBN 0750306467. http://books.google.com/books?id=fY98hmhWp58C&pg=PA381. 
  10. ^ Maerz and Paul A Dictionary of Color New York:1930 McGraw-Hill Page 201; Color Sample of Patriarch: Page 109 Plate 43 Color Sample L9
  11. ^ web.forret.com Color Conversion Tool set to hex code #9F00C5 (Purple (Munsell)):
  12. ^ Graham, Lanier F. (editor) The Rainbow Book Berkeley, California:1976 Shambala Publishing and The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (Handbook for the Summer 1976 exhibition The Rainbow Art Show which took place primarily at the De Young Museum but also at other museums) Portfolio of color wheels by famous theoreticians—see Rood color wheel (1879) Page 93 Purple is halfway between magenta and violet
  13. ^ Maerz and Paul A Dictionary of Color New York:1930 McGraw-Hill Discussion of the color Purple, Page 175; Color Sample of True Purple: Page 125 Plate 51 Color Sample A12
  14. ^ A Dictionary of Color New York:1930 McGraw-Hill, Page 201; Color Sample of Phlox: Page 131 Plate 54 Color Sample H12—The color Phlox is shown lying halfway between magenta and purple.
  15. ^ Maerz and Paul A Dictionary of Color New York:1930 McGraw-Hill Page 196; Color Sample of Heliotrope: Page 131 Plate 54 Color Sample C10
  16. ^ Maerz and Paul A Dictionary of Color New York:1930 McGraw-Hill Page 201; Color Sample of Veronica: Page 109 Plate 43 Color Sample H9
  17. ^ Maerz and Paul A Dictionary of Color New York:1930 McGraw-Hill Page 203; Color Sample of Royal Purple: Page 109 Plate 43 Color Sample K11
  18. ^ Maerz and Paul A Dictionary of Color New York:1930 McGraw-Hill Page 196; Color Sample of Thistle: Page 107 Plate 42 Color Sample J7
  19. ^ Louis Bevier Spinney (1911). A Text-book of Physics. Macmillan Co.. http://books.google.com/books?id=5zgFAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA573. 
  20. ^ D.A. Bryant & N.-U. Frigaard (November 2006). "Prokaryotic photosynthesis and phototrophy illuminated". Trends Microbiol. 14 (11): 488. doi:10.1016/j.tim.2006.09.001. PMID 16997562. 
  21. ^ Maerz and Paul A Dictionary of Color New York:1930 McGraw-Hill Page 201; Color Sample of Pansy Purple: Page 131 Plate 54 Color Sample L8
  22. ^ Barnett, Lincoln and the editorial staff of Life The World We Live In New York:1955--Simon and Schuster—Page 284
  23. ^ Maerz and Paul A Dictionary of Color New York:1930 McGraw-Hill Page 199; Color Sample of Mulberry: Plate 48 Color Sample E9
  24. ^ Bibelforshcer—The German name for “Jehovah’s Witnesses”:
  25. ^ Early Earth Was Purple, Study Suggests:
  26. ^ Twain, Mark,"The Prince and the Pauper", ISBN 0 14 04.3669 3, Penguin Books, 1997, p.71.
  27. ^ Lyrics and audio recording of the song Purple People Eater:
  28. ^ Swami Panchadasi The Human Aura: Astral Colors and Thought Forms Des Plaines, Illinois, USA:1912--Yogi Publications Society Page 37
  29. ^ Fire Destroys Home of Tiburon’s ‘Purple Lady’—San Francisco Chronicle October 22, 2009
  30. ^ "P-". The Phobia List. http://phobialist.com/#P-. Retrieved 6 March 2011. 
  31. ^ Varichon, Anne Colors:What They Mean and How to Make Them New York:2006 Abrams Page 140 – This information is in the caption of a color illustration showing an 8th Century manuscript page of the Gospel of Luke written in gold on Tyrian purple parchment.
  32. ^ October 20, 2010 Spirit Day—the Day to Wear Purple by Lindsay Christ—Long Island Free Press October 20, 2010:
  33. ^ Why Wearing Purple Will Protest Bullying:
  34. ^ October 20th is Spirit Day in Hollywood—Neon Tommy’s Daily Hollywood:
  35. ^ Yahoo Gay Pride Avatars:
  36. ^ Leary’s 8 Calibre Brain Psychic Magazine April 1976
  37. ^ A black and white copy of the chart may be found at the front of the following book: Leary, Timothy – "Info-Psychology", New Falcon Publications. ISBN 1-56184-105-6
  38. ^ Legendary “Purple Banner of Castile” or “Commoner’s Banner”:

Further reading

  • "The perception of color", from Schiffman, H.R. (1990) Sensation and perception: An integrated approach (3rd edition). New York: John Wiley & Sons.

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Purple — Pur ple, n.; pl. {Purples}. [OE. purpre, pourpre, OF. purpre, porpre, pourpre, F. pourpre, L. purpura purple fish, purple dye, fr. Gr. ? the purple fish, a shell from the purple dye was obtained, purple dye; cf. ? dark (said of the sea), purple,… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • PURPLE — Machine. PURPLE (deutsch wörtlich: violett, lila, purpur) war die amerikanische Codebezeichnung für eine Verschlüsselungsmaschine, die von den Japanern vor dem Zweiten Weltkrieg konstruiert und für den diplomatischen Dienst eingesetzt wurde. Die… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Purple — Pur ple, a. 1. Exhibiting or possessing the color called purple, much esteemed for its richness and beauty; of a deep red, or red and blue color; as, a purple robe. [1913 Webster] 2. Imperial; regal; so called from the color having been an emblem …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Purple-K — is a dry chemical fire suppression agent used in some dry powder fire extinguishers. It is the most effective dry chemical in fighting class B (flammable liquid) fires, and can be used against some energized electrical equipment fires (USA class… …   Wikipedia

  • purple — [pʉr′pəl] n. [ME purpel < OE (Northumbrian) purpl( e), dissimilated var. of WS purpur( e) < L purpura, purple < Gr porphyra, shellfish yielding purple dye] 1. a dark color that is a blend of red and blue 2. Now Rare a) deep crimson b)… …   English World dictionary

  • purple — O.E. purpul, dissimilation (first recorded in Northumbrian, in Lindisfarne gospel) from purpure purple garment, purpuren purple, from L. purpura purple dyed cloak, purple dye, also shellfish from which purple was made, from Gk. porphyra (Cf. e… …   Etymology dictionary

  • Purple — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Para máquina de cifrado, véase PURPLE. Purple Álbum de Stone Temple Pilots Publicación 7 de junio de 1994 …   Wikipedia Español

  • purple — ► NOUN 1) a colour intermediate between red and blue. 2) (also Tyrian purple) a crimson dye obtained from some molluscs, used for robes worn by an emperor or senior magistrate in ancient Rome or Byzantium. 3) (the purple) the scarlet official… …   English terms dictionary

  • Purple — Album par Stone Temple Pilots Sortie 7 juin 1994 (US) Enregistrement 1993 1994 Durée 46:57 Genre Grunge …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Purple — Pur ple, v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Purpled}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Purpling}.] To make purple; to dye of purple or deep red color; as, hands purpled with blood. [1913 Webster] When morn Purples the east. Milton. [1913 Webster] Reclining soft in blissful… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • purplė — sf. M, LL259 žr. purplelis: Purplė maža kuo skirias nuo karvelio, nebent tik spalva Blv. Jeigu negalėtų aukauti avinėlio, paims dvi purpli ar du karveliu Blv …   Dictionary of the Lithuanian Language