Blue is a popular color that comes in many shades and hues. When describing different types of blue, people often use descriptive color names that give a sense of the exact shade or intensity of the blue. Here is an overview of some of the most common ways to describe different colors of blue.
The primary or pure blue is the hue directly between violet and green on the color wheel. It is a rich, bright, and intense shade of blue. Some other names for this vivid blue include true blue, primary blue, French blue, and bleu de roi (royal blue in French).
In color theory, primary blue sits between wavelengths of about 464–495 nanometers on the visible spectrum. It is one of the three primary colors in the RGB color model, along with red and green.
Baby blue refers to a pale tint of blue associated with the color of infant clothing and decor. It is meant to be soft, calming, and associated with innocence. Other names for light or pale blue shades include powder blue, robin’s egg blue, forget-me-not blue, and Alice blue.
Baby blue sits close to cyan on the color wheel and has wavelengths of about 491–493 nanometers. It is achieved by mixing a lot of white with blue or adding a greyish tint.
Navy blue is a very dark shade of blue that got its name from being used as the color of military naval uniforms. It is a rich, deep blue that sits between ultramarine and indigo on the color wheel.
Some other names for this dark blue include naval blue, sailor blue, nautical blue, and Transportation Corps blue. Navy blue usually has wavelengths of about 455–485 nanometers.
Azure is a bright, vivid blue that is lighter and brighter than primary blue. It is meant to evoke the color of a clear blue sky. Other names for azure blue include sky blue, cerulean blue, electric blue, and Egyptian blue.
Azure blue typically sits between wavelengths of about 465–495 nanometers. It is a web color commonly used in web design.
Carolina blue refers to a specific shade of azure blue used as one of the official school colors of the University of North Carolina. It is a medium azure tone that is vivid but slightly more muted than a bright primary blue.
Carolina blue is a hue recognized by its hex color code #56A0D3. It sits between azure and baby blue on the blue color spectrum.
Indigo is an extremely deep, rich blue that sits between violet and navy on the color wheel. It is meant to resemble the dye color indigo that came from the indigofera plant historically used for textile dyeing.
Some other names for indigo blue include blueberry blue, phthalo blue, and Han blue. It sits between about 445–420 nanometers on the visible spectrum.
Air Force Blue
Air Force blue refers to a specific medium shade of azure blue used in the uniforms and insignia of the United States Air Force. It is a blue meant to resemble the sky where Air Force pilots fly.
Air Force blue sits around hexadecimal code #53868B on the blue spectrum. It is a slightly greener tone than Carolina blue.
Persian blue is a rich shade of blue that derives its name from being similar to the blue color used in Persian pottery glazes. It is a tone between azure and navy blue, evoking a lapis lazuli gemstone color.
Some other names for this medium-depth blue include Han blue and Islamic blue. It sits around 464–472 nanometers on the visible light spectrum.
Sapphire blue is meant to resemble the rich blue color of the precious gemstone sapphire. It is brighter and more vivid than navy blue but still a very deep, jewel-toned blue.
On the color wheel, sapphire blue falls between indigo and Persian blue. It has hex color codes like #08589D or #0F52BA placing it around 450–465 nanometers.
Cornflower blue is a medium blue meant to resemble the color of the cornflower, a flower common in European meadows. It is brighter than navy blue but not as bright as a pure sky blue.
Cornflower blue sits between azure and indigo on the color wheel. It has a hex code of #6495ED which gives it a wavelength of about 469 nanometers.
Midnight blue is an extremely dark shade of blue meant to evoke the appearance of the night sky around midnight. It is darker than navy blue and sits closer to indigo and violet.
Other names for this dark midnight blue include Prussian blue, raven blue, and aegean blue. It has a hex code of #191970 which places it around 420 nanometers on the spectrum.
Denim blue refers to the characteristic blue color of denim fabric, specifically indigo-dyed denim used in jeans. It is a medium blue that falls between azure and navy on the color wheel.
Denim blue usually has a hex code of #1560BD or #2243B6 which gives it a wavelength of around 470 nanometers.
Dodger blue refers to a vivid azure blue used as an official color by the Los Angeles Dodgers. It was created to evoke the blue skies of sunny Los Angeles. Other sports teams like the Detroit Tigers also use similar shades of azure blue.
Dodger blue has a hex code of #1E90FF which places it close to 465 nanometers on the visible spectrum, brighter than most blues.
Steel blue is a muted, greyish shade of blue meant to resemble blue tinted steel. It falls between azure and navy blue, closer to the darker side of the blue spectrum.
Steel blue has color codes like #4682B4 and #5B8489 that give it wavelengths around 470 nanometers, sitting between azure and navy blue in depth.
Blueberry blue or blueberry cobbler blue is meant to resemble the rich purple-blue color of blueberries. It falls between indigo and violet on the color wheel.
Blueberry blue has hex codes like #4F86F7 and #464196, placing it around 440–450 nanometers on the visible spectrum.
Resolution blue is a shade of azure blue used by the United Nations to represent its ideals of peacekeeping and security. It is vibrant but still a calm, tranquil color.
Resolution blue has a hex code of #002FA7 at approximately 469 nanometers, closer to azure than primary blue in brightness.
There are many shades, tints, and tones of the color blue. These descriptive names for shades of blue give a sense of the exact hue, depth, and intensity of blue being described. From light baby blue to dark midnight blue, the variations of blue offer a wide spectrum to work from.
Whether it’s the rich blue of a navy uniform, the sky blue of a bright sunny day, or the dark blue of a midnight sky, these names for shades of blue paint a picture and evoke the emotions associated with different blues. So next time you want to describe a blue precisely, reach for a descriptive color name that brings to mind the exact blue you have in mind.