Color Symbolism and Meaning of Purple

Where do we find the meaning of purple? Can we consult the regal robes of wealthy rulers of old? Is purple the resplendent glory of summer revealed by the iris in full bloom? Is purple the whimsical hue favored by unicorns and fairies? Purple delights us in many forms.

Meaning Of Purple: Explained

That book was nothing more than purple prose.

The purple of kings.

Purple is royal. It’s elaborate, replete with the trappings of majesty and ceremony. It’s the favorite color of adolescent girls, and it’s the color of fantasy and magic. It’s half-blue, half-red, and our understanding of purple lies somewhere in between the serenity of blue and the passion of red.

What do we know about purple?

Physical Effects

Purple both calms and stimulates our bodies, putting us in the right place for introspection and focused insight. It fosters creativity by awakening our senses while promoting the quiet necessary to make intuitive, insightful observations. Purple creates a harmonious balance of awareness and peace.

Purple fosters creativity by awakening our senses while promoting the quiet necessary to make intuitive, insightful observations.

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Symbolism And Meaning Of Purple

Purple has long been associated with wealth and royalty, as purple dye was precious and expensive. If green is the color of spring, then purple conjures up autumn, fading light, and shorter days. Purple is insouciant–associated with creativity and irreverence (as in the Purple Hat groups of women who embrace aging as an excuse to flout convention.) Purple also represents harmony–the balance between opposing forces.

Meaning of Purple Words
Meaning of Purple Defined

Positive Associations

Purple is cheerful–whimsical and playful. It’s associated with an escape from reality and magical images. Purple is often a statement of independence as it’s not abasic, primary color, and it’s often a sign of fusing the mundane with the innovative. Purple is also associated with bravery, and the Purple Heart is awarded to members of the armed forces who are injured in the line of duty. Professional uses of purple convey high value and lofty goals.

Purple is cheerful–whimsical and playful. It’s associated with an escape from reality and magical images.

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Negative Associations

As purple lives balanced between red and blue, it can be seen as an unstable, non-traditional color. Notions of royalty and ceremony can be off-putting to more democratic sensibilities, and purple can convey feelings of arrogance and condescension. Purple used professionally can feel a bit unsettled and therefore uncomfortable.

Violet Chakra Color

Chakras are energy centers within the body that help to regulate all its processes. Each chakra governs specific functions and is represented by one of the seven chakra colors.

Chakra Colors Sahasrara

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Violet: (purple) is the color of the Crown chakra, also known as Sahasrara. This chakra is located at the top of the head. The Crown chakra is linked to the crown of the head, nervous system, and the brain, and is representative of pure thought. This chakra connects one with the infinite consciousness. Opening this chakra will help tap into a deep spiritual understanding. Gemstones that will aid the Crown chakra include diamond and clear quartz.

Purple Birthstone Color

Color Morsels

Though it’s commonly said there’s no word in English that rhymes with "purple," there are, in fact, two words (albeit obscure ones) that do: "hirple," meaning to walk with a limp, and "curple," meaning the hindquarters of a horse.

Purple Day, observed on March 26 of each year, was created in 2008 to promote awareness about epilepsy.

The Colorado Rockies–based in Denver–are the only professional baseball team to use purple as one of its team colors. The Rockies wear purple, black, silver, and white.

Purple dye originally came from snails boiled in lead vats. It took many thousands of snails to produce tiny amounts of the precious and expensive dye.

The Purple People Bridge that spans the Ohio River at Cincinnati is one of the few exclusively pedestrian bridges in the nation. It can be rented for special events.

The film The Color Purple, based on Alice Walker’s novel of the same name, was nominated for eleven Academy Awards. Both Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey were nominated for their roles in the film, though it didn’t take home a single award.

Amethyst, the purple gemstone, takes its name from the Greek "a methystos," meaning "not drunk." The gemstone was believed to protect against drunkenness if the stone was held beneath the tongue while consuming alcohol.

 In the bible (Acts 16:14), "And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira." Lydia typifies a successful business woman in a prosperous city. Thyatira was conspicuous for its many guilds which were united by common pursuits and religious rites. One of these guilds was that of dyers. The water of the area was so well-adapted for dyeing, that no other place could produce the scarlet cloth out of which fezzes were so brilliantly and so permanently dyed. This unique purple dye brought the city universal renown.

Epilepsy Awareness Day is observed annually on March 26th. The day has become known as “Purple Day” as people are encouraged to wear the color to increase awareness of Epilepsy.

Read About the Color Purple

Mauve: How One Man Invented a Color That Changed the World
The Secondary Colors: Three Essays

Purple Words, Phrases And Idioms

Examples of how the meaning of purple colors our language:

Purple prose: an elaborately written poem or paragraph in literature

Purple heart: a medal awarded to a US soldier wounded in battle

Born to the purple: a person who is born into a noble or royal family

Lay it out in lavender: very cool, relaxed, and in control

Color Words, Idioms and Phrases

Quotes About Color Purple

Violet has the shortest wavelength of the spectrum. Behind it, the invisible ultraviolet. Roses are Red, Violets are Blue. Poor violet, violated for a rhyme.

Michael Derek Elworthy, English film director, stage designer, diarist, artist, gardener and author, 1942–1994

Roses are Red, Violets are Blue. Poor violet, violated for a rhyme. - Derek Elworthy   #color #quotes

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The range in brightness from the purple glow [of the sunset] to the dark sky above is too great for most films, and naturally it is beyond the range of printed pictures.

James Elkins, American art professor and author, b. 1955

Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.

Regina Brett, journalist and author, b. 1956

I like to write with a lot of emotion and a lot of power. Sometimes I overdo it; sometimes my prose is a little bit too purple, and I know that.

H. G. Bissinger, American pulitzer prize-winning journalist and author, b. 1954

Don’t order any black things. Rejoice in his memory; and be radiant: leave grief to the children. Wear violet and purple. Be patient with the poor people who will snivel: they don’t know; and they think they will live for ever, which makes death a division instead of a bond.

George Bernard Shaw, Irish born playwright who lived most of his life in London, England, 1856-1950

I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it.

Alice Walker, American novelist, short story writer, poet, and activist, b. 1944

I still have a lot of the stories I wrote in high school. Hand wrote... a number of them are in purple ink, rendering them illegible, a fact we should probably be forever thankful for.

Shiloh Walker, American author

More Intriguing Facts About Purple

Fear of Purple

Purple As A Signature Color

A signature color is different than a favorite color although for some people they many be one and the same. It is all in how you express yourself with a color and how consistently you wear it or surround yourself with the color that makes it your signature shade.

  • Prince - the music icon loved the color purple - this of his wardrobe, stage set, album and of course, Purple Rain.
  • The State of Minnesota - in 2016, proposed purple as the official state color in honor of the musician Prince; status is currently pending.
  • Red Hat Society Members - inspired by the well-known Jenny Joseph poem, Warning, which begins “When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple, with a red hat which doesn't go and doesn't suit me. ” women in this group can be identified by their purple attire and red hats.

Companies & Brands Identified by Purple

  • Crown Royal
  • Nexium
  • Fedex
  • Hallmark
  • Cadbury
  • 80’s Purple
  • Purple Consultancy
  • Purple Labs
  • Yahoo!
  • Monster
  • Epilepsy Awareness
  • SMAS, Superior Mesenteric Artery Syndrome

Songs With Purple in the Title

  • Pale Purple - Ani DiFranco
  • Purple - Slapshock
  • Purple Haze - Jimi Hendrix
  • The Purple of All Curtains - Tangerine Dream
  • Purple People Eater - Sheb Wooley
  • Purple Rain - Prince
  • Purple Ray Gun - Alexis Shepard
  • Purple Stain - Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • Purple Toupee - They Might Be Giants
  • Voices Green and Purple - The Bees
  • Start Wearing Purple - Gogol Bordello

Color And Our Sense Of Smell: Purple

It’s not just emotion that makes scent powerful. It’s closely tied to your memories, as well. Smell also plays a major role in our ability to taste. When combined with with color those connections become even stronger.

  • The scent of lavender has been shown to decrease heart rate and blood pressure, potentially putting you in a more relaxed state according to the National Sleep Foundation. In one study, researchers monitored the brain waves of subjects at night and found that those who sniffed lavender before bed had more deep sleep and felt more vigorous in the morning. Another study of infants found that they cried less and slept more deeply after a bath with lavender scented oils.
  • The purple colored Magic Scents Crayons labeled "Grape" from Binney & Smith Inc. was originally scented to smell like zesty limes. However, after numerous reports that children were "eating" the food-scented crayons the company changed to less tasty options. The scent for the color green became “Lilac.”
  • For perfume makers, "lavender is a plant which in and of itself has an outstanding olfactory quality.” It certainly appears that lavender counts as one of the most ancient elements used in perfumed products.
  • Lavender was immensely popular during the 19th century and introduced men to the world of perfume, heretofore reserved for women, with classic lavender waters such as English Lavender by Atkinson’s and Old English Lavender by Yardley.

Color Taste Connection: Purple

There are five basic groups of taste, which send signals to our brain to interpret flavor. However, we also send signals with our eyes before we take a bite and give our taste buds a chance to process the flavor. The color can pre-determine how we perceive the taste and flavor of what we eat.

  • Purple is a very trendy color and gourmet chefs are always looking for a new vegetables in this color.
  • The “Purple Orchid Three” is a sweet potato grown by its Hainan developers from seeds taken into space in 2005 on China’s “Shenzhou VI” rocket.
  • “Purple Haze” is the only imperator-shaped purple carrot.
  • Eggplant, deeply purple and glossy, adds unique texture and flavor to the taste of purple.
  • Purple grapes include all grapes of this color, one of which is the Concord grape. Concord grapes are native to North America and are of the slip-skin category, whereas most grapes are of the European varieties whose skin is attached to the meat. This allows the latter varieties to be stored in cold rooms, shipped to fresh markets, and eaten as table grapes. -The Concord Grape Association

The Color Purple In The Garden

Red-Violet Garden
  • Purple is considered a cool color in landscape design. Its appearance has a calming effect in a garden.
  • Purple plants visually recede in a garden, helping to make a small space feel larger.
  • Purple’s complimentary color in the garden is yellow.

Discover More About The Meaning Of Colors

Color Symbolism and Meaning of Red
Color Symbolism and Meaning of Black
Color Symbolism and Meaning of Gray
Color Symbolism and Meaning of White
Color Symbolism and Meaning of Green
Color Symbolism and Meaning of Brown
Color Symbolism and Meaning of Orange
Color Symbolism and Meaning of Pink
Color Symbolism and Meaning of Yellow
Color Symbolism and Meaning of Blue

Talk With Us About the Color Purple

We'd enjoy knowing what you love about the color purple or what you most enjoyed about this article. We love hearing from you and read every comment.

Is there something that you know about purple that should be included here? Great! We’d love to hear from you. Share what you know about the color purple by leaving a comment below. We may just add it to the information shared on this page.

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  • My Homepage says:

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  • Brenda says:

    i heard that when you wear purple it means you are sexually hungry..?how true is it

    • Kate Smith says:

      That is a new one by me. What the person might be feeling is an underlying need for their life to have more creativity, openness or to not be quite so conventional.

  • tahmineh says:

    Thanks for your reply
    Know taht I see I guess you are famouse enough as a refrence :)))
    I’ll use your blog as a refrence
    Thanks for your hard working

  • tahmineh says:

    i’m working on my thesis and its about lavender,
    may i know your refrences? so i can mention it in my thesis as a proove
    thanks a billion

    • Kate Smith says:

      Good luck on your thesis, tahmineh.

      I am working on going back through my notes to find sources to list on each page when I relaunch my website late this summer. Unfortunately, I don’t have this organized to share at this time. I have been researching color for many, many years so know that you will be able to find what you need.

  • Robbyn-interior designer says:

    Purple in varying intensities can add a balancing energy in interior environments and is neither ‘masculine or feminine’ in strength of character–in fact, when used as a background color, it can function as a neutral- as an accent, it can unify and add a softer point of interest than many other colors can. Purple always has nuance and adds sophistication.

    • Kate Smith says:

      Good points, Robbyn. Thanks for sharing your insights with us.

  • Gordon says:

    PETER SELLERS WAS SUPERSTITIOUS ABOUT A LOT OF THINGS, ESPECIALLY COLORS.
    Green gave Sellers “strange vibrations” and disturbed him. He never wore it, and refused to act with anyone wearing green. Purple was even worse. During the making of After The Fox, director Vittorio De Sica flew into a rage one day when a script girl showed up in a purple outfit. “It’s the color of death!” De Sica told Sellers, and Sellers was haunted by this for the rest of his life.

    In later years, Sellers’ aversion to purple produced such volcanic tantrums that publicists would scour his proposed hotel rooms in search of the color, and if they found it, change the room.

  • Barb Roberts says:

    Purple is the signature color for SMAS, Superior Mesenteric Artery Syndrome, a rare intestinal disease that affects 0.03% of the world population. To wear purple on January 28th, will show your support to the warriors and their families, and bring about awareness of this disease!

    • Kate Smith says:

      Thanks for sharing that information, Barb. I am not familiar with the disease but do know how effective it can be to use color as a way for people to show their support.

  • Terry says:

    I went to bed on white sheets and woke up on a purple tint from about waist up and all over one side of my pillow. I tried rubbing my gown on the sheets to see if it would transfer, it didn’t and it wasn’t purple or red anyway. Any idea or superstition about this?

    • Kate Smith says:

      Wow, Terry. I have no idea and never have heard of anything like that…a new one by me.

  • Tara says:

    Purple is also the colour used to represent epilepsy awareness (just as pink is used to represent breast cancer).

    • Kate Smith says:

      Yes, you are right. We will have to add that to the list, thx.

  • tisha says:

    oh no, i will be living in thailand for the next 6months. I love purple but it seems I can’t wear my purple dresses, and I don’t want thai people to think that my husband is dead.

    • Kate Smith says:

      Tisha, the good news is that the Internet and media have blurred the cross-cultural lines and there is a much broader view of what colors mean than there was traditionally.

  • Angela says:

    Very interesting, and complete dissertation of my fave color. I was very interested in the Crown Chakra piece. I have also heard that the color is associated w/mental illness/depression/nervous disorders; thank you for your research and wonderful, informative piece ???

  • anna says:

    Purple is a very divisive color. People often have a strong affinity for it or they are repulsed by it. Some find the color calming. In others large amounts of purple can be disquieting or cause feelings of anxiety or even anger. For those people, purple is representative of arrogance, old age, death and decay.

    Perhaps it would benefit the artist, or the designer, to remember that purple is a color that appears in small doses in nature, or is fleeting as twilight on a mountain. In those proportions it is most likely to be enjoyed by more people.

    The current fad for over-use on television game shows and in graphic lay-outs already has a dated look. It reminds me of an apartment with gold shag carpet and avocado kitchen appliances – something that designers should have known better than to do in the first place.

    • Kate Smith says:

      Thanks for adding your insightful comments about the color purple, Anna.

  • MaryAlice says:

    Another song to add to the list is “Start wearing purple”

    • Kate Smith says:

      I wasn’t familiar with that song but looked it up and added it to the list. Thanks for sharing another purple song.

  • Cheryl says:

    In the Bible Lydia is called a seller of purple.

    • Kate Smith says:

      Yes, I forgot about that reference to the color. I’ll add in the color morsels section.

  • Salar.M says:

    Thank you Kate,That was very helpful and useful
    Thank you very much!! 🙂

    • Kate Smith says:

      You’re most welcome, Salar 🙂

  • Yessenia says:

    i like crown chakra. this color is so much beautiful. i think chakra mediation therapy is helpful for mental grown of human. so anyone can take this therapy.

  • Cora says:

    oh nice chakra color, it so much nice color. i believe it represents royal color. it is a good article, thanks……..

    • Kate Smith says:

      You’re welcome 🙂

  • I.W.J says:

    This is true – in the YouTube search bar type: DCM trains or Sydney Trains DCM (the best night club, 1995-1999 BTW)
    And you’ll see it for yourself. Stunning shade of purple too, I just want to lick it 😀

    I used to ‘graffiti bomb’ Sydney’s trains, but I’ve got too much resect for this one 😉

    • Kate Smith says:

      Very cool.Thanks for sharing.

  • Stefi says:

    Apparently city rail (Australia) must love purple as they have decided to re-upholster our train (Newcastle line carriage 8078) in purple…. Purple seats, walls, carpet and stairs… Needless to say I currently feel trapped inside a box of meter long grape hubba bubba bubble gum.

    • Kate Smith says:

      I will have to check that out. I haven’t seen the new interior of the trains but it doesn’t sound very appealing. 🙂

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