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Is plum a dark purple?

Is plum a dark purple?

Plum is a reddish purple or purple-brown color that is often considered a shade of purple. However, there is some debate over whether plum should be classified as a shade of purple or as its own distinct color. In this article, we’ll examine the characteristics of the plum color, how it relates to purple, and whether it truly qualifies as a dark purple shade.

What is the plum color?

Plum is a deep, rich color that has hints of both red and blue, the two colors that combine to make purple. It’s considered a tertiary color, meaning it is created by combining the primary colors red and blue.

Specifically, plum contains more red than purple does. This gives it a warmer, more reddish-brown tone than pure purple. While purple is created by mixing equal parts red and blue, plum has a greater proportion of red.

There are a few different variations of plum:

  • Plum – The standard plum color. A reddish medium purple.
  • Plum purple – A lighter, soft plum tone. More of a light purple.
  • Prune – A very dark plum approaching black.
  • Raisin – A grayish purple-brown.

In general, the quintessential plum color is a medium to dark reddish purple. It’s not as intense as pure purple and has more subtle, muted tones.

How does plum relate to purple?

Purple and plum are closely related colors. As mentioned, they both contain a mixture of red and blue. However, plum differentiates itself with its particular proportion of red to blue.

Here’s how plum color compares to purple:

  • More red: Plum has a higher ratio of red to blue than pure purple.
  • Darker/duller: Plum is darker and more muted than brighter shades of purple.
  • Brownish tones: The redness lends plum brownish-purple undertones.
  • Muddier: Plum lacks the vividness of true purple.

You can think of plum as a darker, duller, browner variant of purple. While vivid violet contains equal parts red and blue, plum tips the scales in favor of red. The result is a dark reddish purple rather than a pure vivid purple.

Is plum considered a shade of purple?

Whether plum qualifies as a shade of purple or stands alone as its own color is up for debate. Let’s look at both sides of the argument:

Plum is a shade of purple

  • Plum contains a mix of red and blue like all other shades of purple
  • It sits next to purple on the color wheel
  • Plum has traditionally been classified as a type of purple
  • It’s commonly referred to as “plum purple”

Plum is its own distinct color

  • Plum has more red pigment than other types of purple
  • It lacks the brightness and intensity of true purple
  • Plum has strong brown undertones not found in other purples
  • Calling plum “purple” fails to capture its unique reddish quality

There are good points on both sides here. Ultimately, there is no definitive consensus on whether plum is a shade of purple or its own color. It falls somewhere in the murky border between the two categories.

Is plum considered a dark purple?

Whether plum qualifies as a “dark purple” also comes down to how you categorize it. Here are some considerations:

  • Plum is darker than vivid, light purples. However, it is not as dark as the deepest eggplant and wine purples.
  • Plum lacks the bright intensity of lighter purples. In this sense, it can be classified as “dark.”
  • If plum is considered separate from purple, then it cannot be called a “dark purple.”
  • Medium plum shades are fairly dark in hue while still retaining some purple qualities.

There are also different variations of plum that range from light to very dark. For example:

  • Pale plum purple is a soft, light tone closer to lavender.
  • Plum purple is moderately dark with subtle purple traits.
  • Prune is an extremely dark plum nearing black.

Standard plum tends to fall in the medium-dark range. It is darker than light purples but not as dark as the very deep eggplant purples. Whether you consider it “dark purple” depends largely on how you define and categorize the plum color.

How plum appears in nature vs manmade objects

Plum occurs naturally in a few places, most notably:

  • Plum fruit – Ranges from light reddish-purple to dark inky purple.
  • Prunes – Very dark, almost blackish-purple dried plums.
  • Purpleheart wood – Deep reddish-purple wood from the Purpleheart tree.
  • Some purple flowers like irises.

However, plum more commonly occurs in synthetic manmade products. For example:

  • Plum colored paint, lipstick, crayons, markers, etc.
  • Plum clothing, fabrics, and other textiles.
  • Plum graphics in logos, fonts, web design, etc.
  • Plum jewelry such as gemstones.

While plum does occasionally occur naturally, the quintessential plum color is more often seen in manufactured items. This allows the precisereddish-purple tone to be produced synthetically.

Cultural associations with plum color

In many cultures, the plum color carries the following symbolic associations:

  • Royalty – Like purple, plum evokes a sense of luxury and nobility.
  • Spirituality – Plum represents spiritual depth in many religions and cultures.
  • Maturity – The dark, serious plum hue conveys wisdom and maturity.
  • Creativity – Plum stimulates the creative side of the brain.
  • Ambiguity – Plum’s blurring of red and purple represents ambiguity.

However, perceptions of plum vary by culture. For example:

  • In China, plum symbolizes winter and the start of spring.
  • Plum is one of the symbolic colors of the novel The Great Gatsby.
  • Catholic clergy wear plum vestments during Advent and Lent periods.

So while plum often carries connotations of royalty and spirituality, its specific symbolic meaning can depend on the particular culture and context.

Plum color characteristics

Here are some key characteristics that define the plum color:

Characteristic Description
Hue Family Purple/Violet
Color Mix High ratio of red to blue
Hex Code #DDA0DD
RGB Code rgb(221, 160, 221)
CMYK Code cmyk(0, 28, 0, 13)
Hue Angle 300 degrees
Saturation Medium
Brightness Medium
Closest WEB Color Medium purple

These specifications help define plum as a medium-dark reddish purple color with medium saturation and brightness levels. It falls in the purple/violet family but tips toward red much more than pure vivid purple.

Matching plum color

Trying to precisely match the plum color can be tricky. Here are some tips for matching it as closely as possible:

  • Lighting affects perception – Plum may look slightly different in different lighting.
  • Compare to color swatches – Match plum against physical color swatches.
  • View on multiple screens – Screens display color differently.
  • Use plum’s hex code – Find plum’s exact hex code and match to that number.
  • Go for intensity not brightness – Match the mutedness, not vibrance.

Since plum is a subtle color with both purple and red traits, getting the exact hue, saturation and brightness right can be challenging. Having physical color swatches helps. But the most precise way is matching the hex code.


So in summary, is plum a dark purple? There are good arguments on both sides. Plum certainly shares traits with purple, containing a mix of red and blue. However, its distinctively darker, redder qualities also set it apart from true purple. The debate ultimately comes down to whether you define plum as a unique color or a shade of purple.

In terms of darkness, plum tends to be darker than vivid purples but not as dark as the deepest eggplant purples. Medium plum is arguably a “dark purple” but paler plums are more moderately dark. Context also plays a role – plum on its own appears darker than when surrounded by other colors.

Due to its complexity and ambiguity, plum occupies an intriguing space between purple and red. It blurs the lines between categories. So whether plum is classified as “dark purple” is very much open to individual interpretation based on how color and darkness are defined.