The Color Blue — History, Meaning and Facts

Blue is the color of the sky and water, symbolizing peace and serenity. Though the color is one of the most recently recognized, it’s popular in culture and fashion. Read on for more about the color blue.

Facts About the Color Blue

Here are some facts about blue:

  • Blue was the last color to be coined as a term in the English language.
  • Blue is infrequent in nature, so blue flowers are created from genetic modification and breeding.
  • The idea of blue as the color for boys began after World War II. Manufacturers wanted to sell more clothes by making separate clothing for boys and girls.
  • The pigment Prussian blue creates perfect copies of drawings. Architects use this hue to copy their designs, which is where the term “blueprints” came from.

A Brief History of the Color Blue

Due to blue’s rarity in nature, it has a shorter history than other colors. Blue is not present in cave paintings from 20,000 years ago, and the Ancient Greeks did not have a term for blue. Ancient Egyptians valued the blue semiprecious stone Lapis lazuli, so blue became common in their language and clothing.

Though blue was worn mainly by royalty for many centuries, it became a more common color in 431 AD. The Catholic Church depicted the Virgin Mary in a blue robe, adding a positive meaning to the color.

The Meaning of the Color Blue

The color blue symbolizes confidence and authority that is noninvasive and objective. Unlike red, blue is nonthreatening, fostering peace, dependability and security. Since the color produces a slow physiological response, blue is also the color of creativity. Light blue shades improve concentration, and dark blue hues improve thought processes.

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A Look at the Psychology of the Color Blue

The feelings of blue can be paradoxical. Since the sky and bodies of water are blue, the color is associated with calmness and serenity. Being around blue can lower a person’s blood pressure and heart rate. However, blue is also the color of sadness, hence the expression “feeling blue.” The genre of blues music focuses on the loss of money and love. Blue also suppresses the appetite, since blue in food is often a sign of poison or spoilage.

How Is Blue Dye Made?

The Ancient Egyptians created the first blue pigment around 2,200 B.C. They heated a mixture of sand, ground limestone and copper-containing minerals like malachite or azurite at a high temperature. This process created an opaque blue glass that was crushed and combined with a thickening agent to make glaze and paint.

Blue dye for textiles called indigo came from the crop Indigofera tinctoria, which was abundant enough that blue became common in the international textile trade. Today, synthetic indigo creates the dye for blue jeans and other clothing. For food, there are two artificial blue colors — Blue 1 and Blue 2. Blue 2 is also made with indigo.

Measuring the Color Blue

The color blue is perceived at a wavelength of 450 to 495 nanometers. Since this wavelength is short, the light scatters more due to Rayleigh scattering. A color spectrophotometer measures blue by breaking the light beam into component wavelengths, determining the value of the color.

Learn More About Blue Color Testing by HunterLab

For more information about our spectrophotometers or color testing, contact us online.