AskDefine | Define indigo

Dictionary Definition



1 a blue dye obtained from plants or made synthetically [syn: anil, indigotin]
2 deciduous subshrub of southeastern Asia having pinnate leaves and clusters of red or purple flowers; a source of indigo dye [syn: indigo plant, Indigofera tinctoria]
3 a blue-violet color [also: indigoes (pl)]

User Contributed Dictionary



From a Greek word meaning "Indian dye"




  1. A purplish-blue colour
  2. A blue dye obtained from certain plants (the indigo plant or woad), or a similar synthetic dye.
    indigo colour/color:   


  1. Having a deep blue colour.





Extensive Definition

Indigo is the color on the electromagnetic spectrum between about 420 and 450 nm in wavelength, placing it between blue and violet. Color scientists do not usually recognize indigo as a significant color category, and generally classify wavelengths shorter than about 450 nm as violet.
Indigo and violet are different from purple, which cannot be seen on the electromagnetic spectrum but can be achieved by mixing mostly blue and part red light.
One can see spectral indigo by looking at the reflection of a fluorescent tube in a non-recordable compact disc. This works because the CD functions as a diffraction grating, and a fluorescent lamp generally has a peak at 435.833 nm (from mercury), as is visible on the fluorescent lamp spectrum.

Distinction between four shades of indigo

Like many other colors (orange and violet are the best-known), indigo gets its name from an object in the natural world—the plant named indigo once used for dyeing cloth (see also Indigo dye).
The color electric indigo is an approximation of spectrum indigo. This is the brightest color indigo that can be approximated on a computer screen—it is the color between the web color blue and the color electric violet.
The web color blue violet or deep indigo is a shade of indigo brighter than pigment indigo but not as bright as electric indigo.
The color pigment indigo is equivalent to the web color indigo and approximates the color indigo that is usually reproduced in pigments and colored pencils.
The color of indigo dye is a different color than either spectrum indigo or pigment indigo. This is the actual color of the dye from the indigo plant when swatched onto raw fabric. A vat full of this dye is a darker color, approximating the web color Midnight Blue.
When specifying the color indigo, it is necessary to indicate which particular one of these four major shades of indigo you are referring to.

Electric indigo

In an RGB color space, spectral indigo and violet must be approximated by purples, that is, by mixing a little red with a lot of blue. Spectral indigo is closely approximated by the color electric indigo. This sample was taken directly from the CIE chromaticity diagram opposite the 430 nanometer line. It is much brighter than the pigment indigo reproduced below. Spectrum Indigo fits nicely between spectrum violet and spectrum blue as can be seen in the color bands displayed below.
It is impossible to represent spectrum indigo exactly on a computer screen, because true spectrum indigo is outside the color triangle or gamut of the RGB color space defined by the monitor primaries.

Not viewed as a color in its own right

Indigo is neither an additive primary color nor a subtractive primary color. It was named and defined by Sir Isaac Newton when he divided up the optical spectrum (which is a continuum of frequencies). He specifically named seven colors primarily to match the seven notes of a western major scale, because he believed sound and light were physically similar, but also to link colors with the (known) planets, days of the week, and other lists that had seven items.
The human eye is relatively insensitive to indigo's frequencies, and some otherwise well-sighted people cannot distinguish indigo from blue and violet. As such, most humans do not recognize indigo as a separate hue category between blue and violet. For this reason, some commentators, including Isaac Asimov, hold that indigo should not be regarded as a color in its own right, but merely as a shade of blue or violet.
Color scientists typically divide the spectrum at about 450 nm between violet and blue, with no indigo.
Others continue to accept it as it has been accepted traditionally as one of Newton's named colors of the spectrum along with red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet.

Deep indigo (web color blue-violet)

At right is displayed the web color blue-violet, a color intermediate in brightness between electric indigo and pigment indigo. This color is also called deep indigo.

Pigment indigo (web color indigo)

The color box at right displays the web color Indigo which is equivalent to pigment indigo, the color indigo as it would be reproduced by artists' paints as opposed to the brighter indigo above (electric indigo) that it is possible to reproduce on a computer screen.
Pigment indigo can be obtained by mixing 55% pigment cyan with about 45% pigment magenta.
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 indigo (web color indigo) represents the way the color indigo 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 "bright indigo" or "bright blue-violet" that are the pigment equivalent of the electric indigo reproduced in the section above became available in artists' pigments and colored pencils.

Indigo dye

At right is displayed the color indigo dye, an approximation of the color of a swatch of indigo dye.
New Age Philosophy
  • The color electric indigo is used to symbolically represent the sixth chakra (called Ajna), which is said to include the third eye. This chakra is believed to be related to intuition and gnosis (spiritual knowledge).
Parapsychology Sociology

See also


indigo in Aragonese: Morau
indigo in Aymara: K'ulli
indigo in Banyumasan: Nila
indigo in Danish: Indigo
indigo in German: Indigo (Farbe)
indigo in Spanish: Añil
indigo in Esperanto: Indigo
indigo in French: Indigo
indigo in Galician: Anil
indigo in Indonesian: Nila
indigo in Italian: Indaco
indigo in Hebrew: אינדיגו
indigo in Swahili (macrolanguage): Nili
indigo in Lithuanian: Indigas
indigo in Dutch: Indigo (kleur)
indigo in Japanese: インディゴ
indigo in Norwegian: Indigo
indigo in Polish: Indygo
indigo in Portuguese: Anil
indigo in Romanian: Indigo
indigo in Quechua: Tinaku llimphi
indigo in Russian: Индиго (цвет)
indigo in Simple English: Indigo
indigo in Slovenian: Indigo
indigo in Finnish: Indigo
indigo in Swedish: Indigo (färg)
indigo in Vietnamese: Chàm
indigo in Chinese: 靛色
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