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Is olive green darker than green?

Olive green is generally considered to be a darker shade of green than regular green. The quick answer is yes, olive green tends to be darker and have a grayer tone compared to plain green. However, the relationship between these colors is more complex than a simple darker vs. lighter comparison.

The Difference Between Olive Green and Green

Green is one of the three primary colors in the RGB color model, along with red and blue. In this model, mixing different amounts of the primary colors produces all other colors. Green has a wavelength of about 520–570 nanometers.

Olive green sits between green and brown on the color wheel. It is made by mixing green and black or green and brown. The addition of black or brown pigments makes olive green darker than regular green. The exact hue of olive green can range from a yellowish-green to a grayish-green.

The standard green used in things like green traffic lights or green on the color wheel has a hue angle of about 120 degrees. Olive green’s hue angle is generally around 60 to 90 degrees, which rotates it closer to brown/yellow rather than pure green.

Comparing Green and Olive Green

Here are some key ways that olive green and green differ:

  • Shade: Olive green is several shades darker than plain green.
  • Tone: Olive green has more grey, brown, and black mixed in, giving it a duller, darker tone.
  • Hue: Olive green has a yellowish-brown tint rather than pure green.
  • Context: Olive green is associated more with autumn colors while green represents spring.
  • Use: Olive green is popular for military and safari color schemes, while green is used more universally.

Measuring Color Darkness and Lightness

There are a few different ways to numerically compare and measure how light or dark a color is:

  • Hue: The basic color (green, red, blue, etc.). Olive green and green differ in exact hue.
  • Brightness: How light or luminous a color appears. Olive green has lower brightness than green.
  • Lightness: How light or dark a color is on a scale of 0 (black) to 100 (white). Olive green has lower lightness than green.
  • Luminance: The intensity of light emitted from a surface, measured in candela per square meter. Olive green has lower luminance than green.
  • Value: The lightness or darkness of a color, from 0 (black) to 100 (white). Olive green has a lower value than green.

By all these metrics, olive green is a darker color than regular green. However, there can be variation among different specific shades of green and olive green.

Comparing Specific Shades

Looking at specific shades referenced in things like html color codes, we can compare how dark different greens and olive greens are:

Color Hex Code RGB Brightness Luminance
Green #008000 R: 0, G: 128, B: 0 50% 0.07 cd/m2
Dark Green #006400 R: 0, G: 100, B: 0 39% 0.04 cd/m2
Olive Green #808000 R: 128, G: 128, B: 0 25% 0.03 cd/m2
Dark Olive Green #556b2f R: 85, G: 107, B: 47 20% 0.02 cd/m2

As the table shows, both olive green and dark olive green have lower brightness and luminance than green or dark green. However, there is some overlap – dark green can be darker than light olive greens. Overall though, olive green tends to be a darker, duller shade of green.

Psychology of Olive Green vs. Green

The psychology behind a color can also point to why olive green is viewed as darker than plain green:

  • Green is associated with nature, growth, renewal, and harmony.
  • Olive green represents autumn, maturity, fatigue, illness, and the military.
  • The dullness of olive green gives it a more somber tone than bright, vibrant green.

Olive green evokes themes of decay and fatigue, while plain green conjures up images of vibrancy and growth. This psychological perception contributes to olive green being viewed as darker.

Uses and Examples

Some examples that showcase the darker olive green vs. lighter plain green:

  • Camouflage: Military uniforms use olive drab, while regular green stands out more.
  • Nature: Olive green represents pine needles and sagebrush, while green is used for lush grass and leaves.
  • Decor: Olive green gives a more muted, earthy look than bright greens.
  • Iconography: Green means go, while olive green is a sign of caution.

Olive green’s widespread use in the military and nature points to its properties as a darker, duller shade of green that blends in better with its surroundings.


While there are some variations between shades, olive green is generally considered a darker color than regular green. This stems from several factors:

  • Olive green has more black or brown pigment mixed in, making it darker.
  • It has lower brightness, luminance, and value than green.
  • Its dull, grayish-brown tone gives it a darker feel.
  • The psychology of olive green associates it with darkness and fatigue.

So in summary, the quick answer is yes, olive green is a darker, more muted shade of green. This allows it to serve different purposes than plain green in camouflage, nature, and design.

Olive green and green have their own unique roles, with olive green occupying the darker end of the green spectrum. So while they are closely related colors, olive green definitively differs from green by being several shades darker. When comparing different greens, olive green will consistently rate as a darker variant.

Olive green and green are considered complementary colors. They contrast with each other in lightness, hue, and vibrancy. At the same time, they are closely linked in the color wheel and in nature. Their relationship showcases how colors can have connections while retaining their own distinct identities.

So in summary:

  • Yes, olive green is darker than green
  • Olive green has more grey, brown, and black mixed in
  • Olive green has lower brightness, luminance, and value
  • Olive green is associated with autumn, fatigue, and the military
  • Green represents vibrancy, growth, and renewal
  • Olive green and green complement each other across the color spectrum

The comparison between olive green and green shows how colors can have nuance beyond simply lighter and darker. While olive green is definitively darker, the relationship between these two shades is complex, with each color having its own lightness, hue, and symbolic meanings. Their contrast and connections demonstrate the richness and subtle variations within the green family of colors.