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What is a rare color name for blue?

What is a rare color name for blue?

Blue is one of the primary colors and it can be found everywhere around us – from the sky and the ocean, to clothes, paintings, and more. While many people are familiar with common color names for shades of blue like navy, royal, or sky blue, there are also some more unusual and rare names for different shades of this popular color.

The Origins and History of the Color Blue

Before we dive into rare color names for blue, it helps to understand a bit about the history of the color itself. Blue has a long and rich history spanning many centuries.

In ancient times, blue was considered a very rare and valuable pigment. The earliest known blue dyes were made from minerals like lapis lazuli, azurite, and Egyptian blue. Lapis lazuli, in particular, was highly prized and its brilliant blue color was associated with royalty, the gods, and the heavens.

During the Middle Ages, blue remained an expensive pigment associated with the Virgin Mary and royalty. It was used sparingly in illuminated manuscripts and tapestries. The most common blue fabric dye of the time came from woad, a flowering plant, but the color was less vibrant than lapis lazuli.

With the Age of Discovery in the 15th-16th centuries, European painters gained access to new imported blue pigments like ultramarine and smalt. This allowed them to paint much bolder and brighter blue skies and seas. Some historians believe this access to new blues helped shape the vibrant marine landscapes we associate with the Italian Renaissance.

By the 18th century, Prussian blue was invented and became the first modern synthetic blue pigment. In the 19th century, new synthetic blues, like Cobalt blue, provided more affordable blue pigments for artists.

Today blue remains one of the most popular colors. We have easy access to a vast array of blues. But throughout history, brilliant blues were often rare and valued.

Rare Names for Different Shades of Blue

While most people are familiar with basic blue color names like navy and sky blue, the English language contains many more unusual and poetic words for shades of blue. Here are some rare and vivid ways to describe the spectrum of blue hues:


Azure is a light blue reminiscent of a clear sky. This bright blue shade is similar to cyan. It’s considered one of the web colors and is often associated with technology. The name comes from the precious stone lapis lazuli and is linked to luxury.


Bice is a grayish blue-green color, like the blue found in ocean shallows. The name comes from the Latin word for “pale blue-green.” In art, the color bice was traditionally used in Renaissance frescoes.

Bleu de France

Bleu de France is a medium sky blue. As the name implies, this pale blue is associated with the blue on France’s flag. It’s a dignified blue that connotes elegance.

Carolina Blue

Carolina blue is a medium robin’s egg blue. It’s famously associated with the University of North Carolina and sports their colors. This cheerful pastel blue became UNC’s official color in 1941.


Cerulean is a bright blue leaning toward azure or cyan. The name comes from the Latin word for sky or heavens. Cerulean is sophisticated blue associated with art, fashion, and decor.

Cornflower Blue

Cornflower blue is a medium blue with purplish undertone. It’s the color of the cornflower, a European flower. This vibrant blue became very fashionable after the 19th century.

Egyptian Blue

Egyptian blue is a hue ranging from blue-green to deep blue. Surprisingly, this shade has been artificially produced since 3rd century BC Egypt. It’s one of the first human-made pigments.

Electric Blue

Electric blue is a brilliant azure tone close to cyan. As the name suggests, it has an intense glow, evoking electricity and neon lighting. It’s a bold dramatic blue.

Han Blue

Han blue is an ancient Chinese pigment used in pottery glazes. It’s a deep, slightly greenish-blue inspired by the ocean. The pigment dates back to the Han dynasty.


Indigo is a deep vivid blue, darker than navy. It sits between blue and violet on the spectrum. Historically indigo dye was extracted from the indigofera flowering plant.

International Klein Blue

International Klein Blue is a deep ultramarine patented by artist Yves Klein. Klein said the shade represents the infiniteness of blue sky and sea. It’s a vivid primary blue.

Majorelle Blue

Majorelle blue is a vivid cobalt blue shade with a hint of purple. It was used frequently by French painter Jacques Majorelle and in the Majorelle Garden in Morocco.

Maya Blue

Maya blue is an azure blue pigment used in Mesoamerica. It has stunning durability and was important in ancient Maya art and architecture.


Periwinkle is a pale indigo tone, lighter than violet. Its name comes from the periwinkle flower. In paints, periwinkle is a light brilliant blue with hints of lavender.

Prussian Blue

Prussian blue is a dark blue pigment discovered in Berlin in the early 1700s. Used in paints and dyes, its deep blue is symbolic of Prussia. The color is associated with dependability.

Resolution Blue

Resolution blue is a vivid cobalt blue named after the 18th century ship used by Captain Cook. It navigated Australia and New Zealand for the first time.


Sapphire is a gorgeous medium azure tone inspired by the sapphire gemstone. Sapphire blue has a calm, wise aura associated with truth and virtue.


Ultramarine is a radiant azure blue resembling lapis lazuli. Its name means “beyond the sea” referring to Afghanistan’s mines. Artists highly valued this pigment.

YInMn Blue

YInMn blue is a recently invented pigment created at Oregon State University in 2009. It’s highly durable with a vibrant blue color.


Zaffre is a historic blue pigment made by heating cobalt and alumina. Used since ancient Egypt, this brilliant azure blue inspired many other blue pigments.

Light and Dark Rare Blues

Rare blue colors span a wide spectrum from pale sky blues to deep midnight blues. Here are examples to illustrate the range:

Light Rare Blues Dark Rare Blues
Azure Indigo
Bleu de France International Klein Blue
Carolina Blue Majorelle Blue
Cerulean Prussian Blue
Periwinkle Resolution Blue
Sapphire Ultramarine

This comparison shows the full spectrum from pale sky blues to midnight navy tones.

Using Rare Blue Colors

These rare blue shades can be used in any context where you want to make an impact with an unexpected blue. Here are some ideas:

  • Add vibrancy with cerulean, azure or sapphire accents in interior design.
  • Evoke natural wonder with maya blue, Egyptian blue or Han blue in logo design.
  • Try regal majorelle blue or historic Prussian blue in an artistic painting.
  • Differentiate your product line with unusual blues like YInMn blue.
  • Show school spirit with your own version of Carolina blue.

Rare blues lend visual richness and uniqueness to any design. They make memorable statement colors.


Blue has an extensive history spanning centuries and cultures. While common blues are widespread, there are also many lesser known shade names that add intrigue. Exploring these rare color terms allows for much more creative and nuanced use of blues.

Azure, cerulean, maya blue, majorelle and more – these vivid blues can make designs and artworks pop. Beyond basic blues like navy lies a treasure trove of shades to experiment with. Next time you use blue, try going beyond the basics and incorporating a rare shade name.