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Is teal a green color?

Is teal a green color?

Teal is a bluish-green color that falls somewhere between green and blue on the color spectrum. Many people have differing opinions on whether teal should be classified as a shade of green or blue. The debate arises because teal has qualities of both colors. This article will examine the technical definitions, cultural associations, and design applications of teal to help determine if it is truly a green.

The Technical Definition

In technical terms, teal is considered a green color. The precise technical definition of teal is a medium tone of blue-green on the color wheel. On the RGB or hex color model, teal is created by mixing blue and green light. The hex code for teal is #008080, meaning it contains equal parts green and blue. On the CMYK color model used in printing, teal contains both cyan (a greenish-blue) and yellow (a greenish-yellow).

Color theory classifies colors into three categories: primary colors, secondary colors, and tertiary colors. The primary colors are red, blue and yellow. Green is a secondary color made by mixing the primary colors blue and yellow. Teal is a tertiary color created by mixing the primary color blue with the secondary color green. Since teal originates from a mixture of blue and green, this scientifically proves it is technically a shade of green.

Cultural Associations

Although teal may be technically classified as a green, there are some cultural associations that connect it more closely with blue. One example is teal’s name origin. The name “teal” comes from the common teal bird, which has plumage that is a blue-green color. The word was first used in the early 1700s to describe the male teal duck’s greenish-blue head feathers.

There are also examples of teal being grouped with blue in fashion, decorating, and graphic design. In fashion, teal is considered a jewel tone along with other shades of blue and blue-green. Jewel tones refer to rich, deep colors like ruby, sapphire, emerald and teal. In interior decorating, teal is often used as an accent color with navy blue for a coastal color scheme. Websites, logos and other designs frequently color code blue and teal together.

However, teal is not always linked with blue. Sometimes it is paired with green shades like mint or sage. Many people also associate teal with the ocean, which contains blue and green colors. Overall there are connections between teal and both blue and green depending on the context.

Design Applications

When using the color teal in design, it generally functions as a shade of green. Graphic designers think of teal as falling under the green umbrella, along with colors like sage, mint, lime, emerald and olive. Complementary colors for teal are considered to be oranges, reds, yellows and magentas. These complementary colors contrast well with teal’s greenish tone.

In color theory, teal fits into the cool color palette along with greens, blues and violets. Cool colors are associated with water, sky, nighttime and relaxation. They give a soothing impression. In designs and photographs, teal can create a calming atmosphere. Its green side evokes nature while its blue side is tranquil like water.

Here is a table showing some ways teal typically functions as green in design:

Design Context Teal classified as…
Color wheel position Blue-green, between green and blue
Complementary colors Oranges, reds, yellows, magentas (complements of green)
Color palette Cool color along with greens and blues
Design mood Calming, soothing, tranquil like green and blue

This shows that despite teal having some blue overtones, it predominantly fills the role of a green color in design applications.


In summary, teal is technically defined as a green color but has strong cultural ties to blue as well. When it comes to practical use in design and color theory though, teal functions more as a shade of green. It was interesting to explore the debate over whether teal is a green or blue color. After looking at the technical details, cultural context, and real-world applications, the evidence seems to point towards classifying teal as a green.

The takeaway is that color classifications can be complex. A color like teal can exhibit qualities of both the green and blue families. Strict color boundaries do not always exist. Teal occupies a fluid middle ground between green and blue that draws on both. It is this blend of green and blue that gives teal its unique character and appeal.

So while teal may contain blue tones, its official color designation and role in graphic design align it more closely with green colors. When evaluating teal’s technical specifications, how people culturally perceive it, and how designers functionally use it, the verdict is that teal is more green than blue.

Teal’s connection with green extends beyond the color itself to represent growth, health, renewal and the natural environment. Next time you see teal’s soothing blend of green and blue, you can appreciate it as a versatile color with one foot planted firmly in the green category.