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What are the scientific words for orange?

What are the scientific words for orange?

The scientific names for the color orange encompass a range of technical terminology from various disciplines. In optics and color science, orange is defined by its wavelength range in the visible spectrum and other precise colorimetric specifications. In botany and zoology, the orange coloration found in certain organisms has specific Latin taxonomic names. Across chemistry, physics, biology and other fields, the study of orange connects to key concepts in light, vision, pigmentation, and more. This article will provide an overview of the scientific vocabulary used to describe the color orange.

Optics and Color Science

In physics and optics, orange is considered a spectral color with its own wavelength range in the visible spectrum. The visible spectrum is the portion of the full electromagnetic spectrum that is visible to the human eye. The wavelengths of light determine the perceived color. Orange light has wavelengths approximately between 585-620 nanometers.

The precise specifications for orange also depend on the specific color space or color model used. In the RGB or red, green, blue color model, orange is made by combining maximum red light with a medium amount of green light. The RGB values for orange are approximately:

Red Green Blue
255 165 0

In the CMYK or cyan, magenta, yellow, black color model used in printing, orange is made by combining yellow and magenta pigments. The CMYK values for orange are approximately:

Cyan Magenta Yellow Black
0 51 89 0

Additionally, orange has a hue angle of approximately 39 degrees on the color wheel. It has a medium brightness value and medium saturation.

Biology and Botany

In biology, zoology and botany, the orange color seen in certain animals, plants, fungi and microorganisms has more specific Latin names.

Carotenoids are a class of organic pigments responsible for many yellow, orange and red colours seen across nature. The specific carotenoids that cause orange hues are typically:

  • Beta-carotene
  • Alpha-carotene
  • Gamma-carotene
  • Beta-cryptoxanthin

These carotenoid pigments are synthesized by plants, algae, some bacteria and fungi. Animals cannot produce carotenoids on their own and must obtain them through their diet.

Some examples of organisms with orange coloration from carotenoids include:

Organism Scientific Name Carotenoid Source
Carrots Daucus carota subsp. sativus Beta-carotene
Salmon Oncorhynchus Astaxanthin
Monarch butterfly Danaus plexippus Beta-carotene
Orange roughy Hoplostethus atlanticus Astaxanthin

Other biological pigments can also create orange hues, such as some forms of the pigment melanin. Overall, the diverse orange colours found in nature derive from specific pigments, reflectance structures and combinations of pigments.


In chemistry, orange is associated with certain elements, compounds and materials. Here are some key examples:

  • Oxygen – Has an orange-red emission spectrum color
  • Sulfur – Has a pale orange color in its native mineral form
  • Carotene – The orange hydrocarbon found in carrots
  • Citrine – An orange variety of the mineral quartz
  • Cadmium pigments – Used to create vivid orange colors
  • Sodium chloride – Causes orange color in flames
  • Mercury iodide – A bright orange inorganic compound

Mixing paint pigments is another way to produce orange tones in chemistry and color technology. Combining red and yellow pigments makes orange paint.

Certain pH indicators also turn orange in specific pH ranges. For example, methyl orange turns orange in a pH range around 3.1 to 4.4.

Physics and Astronomy

In physics and astronomy, orange shows up across various phenomena in the universe:

  • Sunset – The orange color results from Rayleigh scattering of sunlight through the atmosphere.
  • Nebulae – Emission nebulae glow orange from ionized hydrogen gas.
  • Stars – Cooler stars like Betelgeuse appear orange.
  • Galaxies – Hubble’s classification includes orange elliptical galaxies.
  • Black holes – Glowing orange gas often surrounds black holes as it’s heated up andconsumed.
  • Mars – The iron oxide rich soil gives Mars an orange-red look.

Physicists might reference the blackbody spectrum of orange stars or the nanometer wavelengths of orange photons. Overall, orange conveys a middle ground – hotter than red but cooler than yellow and white on the visible color spectrum.

Psychology and Culture

In culture, psychology and marketing, orange can carry symbolism, meaning and influence.

  • Attention-grabbing – Orange is energetic and draws attention.
  • Friendly and Warm – Orange is associated with social interaction and warmth.
  • Appetite-stimulating – Orange can make people hungry and think of citrus fruits.
  • Spiritual – In some religions, orange represents sacrifice and humility.

The psychological effects of orange lead it to be used enthusiastically in advertising, branding, warnings signs and transportation. When noticing orange in nature, people may link it to concepts like ripe fruit, Autumn harvest, Monarch butterflies, sunsets, and fire.


In summary, the scientific vocabulary used to describe the color orange spans many disciplines from optics and color science to botany, biology, chemistry, physics and psychology. Specific technical terms define orange on the electromagnetic spectrum, as pigments in nature, and compounds in chemistry, while more general descriptions convey its meaning and impact on the human mind. With its vibrant energy, orange fascinates scientists and artists seeking to understand light, color and life on Earth.