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What is the difference between turquoise teal and cyan?

What is the difference between turquoise teal and cyan?

Turquoise, teal and cyan are three colors that look quite similar but have some distinct differences. They fall in the range between green and blue on the color spectrum. Understanding the nuances between these shades can be helpful for artists, designers, and anyone looking to use color accurately.

In this article, we will compare turquoise, teal and cyan and outline the key differences between these colors in terms of their:

– Definitions
– Hex color codes
– RGB values
– CMYK values
– Hue, saturation, and brightness
– Uses and symbolism

We will also provide some visual examples of each color to help illustrate the differences. Keep reading to learn more about turquoise, teal and cyan!



Turquoise is a bluish-green color, based on the gemstone of the same name. The name “turquoise” dates back to the 16th century and comes from the French word for “Turkish” because the stone was first brought to Europe from Turkey.

As a color, turquoise combines green and blue in equal proportions. It is considered halfway between green and cyan on the color wheel. Turquoise is associated with the blue-green colors of the mineral turquoise. It often contains slight hints of gray.


Teal is a medium blue-green color, similar to turquoise and cyan. The name comes from the common teal, which is a member of the duck family that has blue-green feathers. As a color, teal has more green than cyan but less green than turquoise. It is considered halfway between blue and green.

Teal is also often associated with the colors of the ocean – combining blue and green in shades found in tropical seas. It may contain hints of gray as well.


Cyan is a greenish-blue color that falls between green and blue on the visible spectrum. In printing and design, cyan is one of the primary subtractive colors along with magenta and yellow.

On computer displays and digital design, cyan is a secondary color made by mixing equal amounts of green and blue light. In nature, cyan is found in blue-green algae and aquatic life. Cyan contains more blue than green compared to turquoise and teal.

Hex Color Codes

Hex color codes are used to specify colors in digital design. Here are the hex codes for turquoise, teal and cyan:

Color Hex Code
Turquoise #40E0D0
Teal #008080
Cyan #00FFFF

This shows that cyan contains more blue than turquoise and teal in hex code. Teal is evenly balanced between blue and green, while turquoise leans slightly more green.

RGB Values

The RGB color model uses levels of red, green and blue light to create colors on screens. Here are the RGB values for these colors:

Color Red Green Blue
Turquoise 64 224 208
Teal 0 128 128
Cyan 0 255 255

The RGB values show cyan has the highest amount of blue, while turquoise has the most green. Teal has a balanced amount of blue and green.

CMYK Values

In print design and color printing, the CMYK color model is used. The CMYK values for these colors are:

Color Cyan Magenta Yellow Black
Turquoise 44 0 24 0
Teal 100 0 100 2
Cyan 100 0 0 0

Here cyan contains 100% cyan ink, while turquoise has only 44% cyan. Teal has a middle amount of cyan. For yellow ink, teal has the most and turquoise has the least.

Hue, Saturation, and Brightness

On the HSB/HSV color wheel, hue refers to the base color, saturation is the intensity of color, and brightness is relative lightness/darkness. Here are typical HSB values:

Color Hue Saturation Brightness
Turquoise 174° 72% 73%
Teal 180° 100% 50%
Cyan 180° 100% 100%

This shows cyan and teal share a similar hue, while turquoise is slightly more green. Teal has middle brightness, while cyan is the lightest and turquoise is darkest. For saturation, cyan and teal are fully saturated colors while turquoise is slightly less saturated.

Uses and Symbolism

The subtle differences between turquoise, teal and cyan mean they convey slightly different moods. Here are some of the symbolic associations with each color:


– Calming, serene, refreshing
– Associated with water, beaches, tropical oceans
– Used in spas, yoga studios, and tranquil spaces
– Represents wisdom, clarity, spiritual grounding


– Balanced, harmonious, stabilizing
– Slightly more energizing than turquoise
– Used in health care for its calming effect
– Symbol of open communication and clarity of thought


– Clean, crisp, refreshing, futuristic
– Associated with cool water and blue skies
– Used in minimalist or high-tech designs
– Can represent logic, technology, and modernity

So in summary:

– Turquoise is the calmest and most tranquil
– Teal balances tranquil and energizing effects
– Cyan is the crispest, coolest and most futuristic

Visual Comparison

Here is a visual swatch comparing turquoise, teal and cyan:

Turquoise Teal Cyan

This illustrates the subtle variations in tone and shade between these three colors. Cyan leans towards blue, teal is in the middle, and turquoise has more green.


While turquoise, teal and cyan are closely related colors and sometimes used interchangeably, there are subtle differences between them:

– Turquoise has the most green hue, while cyan has the most blue. Teal is evenly balanced between blue and green.

– Cyan is lighter and brighter, while turquoise is darker and more muted. Teal is in the middle for lightness.

– Cyan and teal are fully saturated, while turquoise is slightly grayer.

– Cyan is the coolest and crispest, teal balances warm/cool tones, and turquoise is the calmest and most tranquil.

So in summary:

– Turquoise has the most green tone
– Teal balances green and blue tones
– Cyan contains the most blue tone

Understanding these nuances can help you pick the perfect shade of blue-green for your specific design or art project. Use turquoise for a tranquil mood, teal for balance, and cyan when you want a cooler, futuristic feeling.