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Difference Between Violet and Purple

Last updated date: 17th Apr 2024
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Know More About Difference Between Violet and Purple

Since our elementary schooling, the first and foremost important thing students have been taught is identifying colours. Generally, it said that there are seven unique colours. All seven colours are the constituents of the white colour. When we observe the electromagnetic spectrum it is a continuous one, though there are seven unique colours, it is mixed with the different wavelengths. Similarly, the violet colour and the purple colour correspond to the same range but the key difference is the wavelength of the two colours is different. 

Difference Between Violet and Purple

Understanding the difference between Violet and Purple is the first step in understanding the wavelength range of the colour in the visible spectrum. So, violet and purple colours are two different colours that are taught to students since the very beginning of learning. 

The important and main difference in understanding these two colours is that Violet is an actual colour that generally is noticeable in nature that is due to its presence in the electromagnetic spectrum. The range which the colour has or a wavelength we can say more accurately is that ranges from 380 nm to 450 nm.

The purple colour is an unnatural mixture of red and blue that leads to its creation. The violet colour on the other hand can be produced with the help of a prism. When white light is passed through the prism, we know that the white light will split into seven different colours (generally known as the VIBGYOR). The phenomenon of splitting white light into seven distinct wavelengths is known as dispersion. The dispersion process will be helpful in understanding the difference between violet and purple colours respectively.

Where lies the difference? Violet is a so-called spectral colour. It means that it has its own place in the visible spectrum around 380 – 420 nm and thus has its own wavelength. The colour Purple which is on the other hand is a simple combination of two spectral colours blue and red.

Our colour vision which we generally possess is based on the function that is of three different colour-sensitive cells termed cones. These cones that are activated by various wavelengths are said to be however each of the three is specific in activation. The Signals which are from the cones are subsequently processed in such a way that we see the colours that we see.

On the scheme that is below we can see the CIE 1931 colour (pigment) space which corresponds basically to the signals from activated cones after being processed by the brain. So as we can notice different wavelengths activate differently which is with the cones with various intensities. Thus what we perceive for example as red is a bit more than 700 nm which is actually the activation of only red cones. On the other hand, the colour we perceive as green 495 – 570 nm is created by the activation of both green and red cones, however, colour green ones are much more activated.

Difference between Purple and Violet Colour

In optics, the violet colour is a spectral range. The purple colour is a mixture of many single wavelengths. The colour violet is said to be closely associated with purple. Whereas if we look at the purple colour we see that it is the colour of various combinations of red and blue and slightly violet. Some of which the humans perceive as similar to violet. In common usage, we can say that both refer to colours that are between red and blue in hue along with the violets that are closer to blue and purples closer to red. In the colour, traditionally the painters use purple or violet colours and both of them are considered to be placed between red and blue along with purple which is closer to red in the spectrum range.

The human eye can see that the L red cone in the eye is primarily sensitive to long-wavelength light in the yellow-red region of the spectrum. But it is also somewhat known as the sensitive part to the shorter wavelength that is of violet colour light that primarily stimulates the S that is the blue cone. 

As a result, we can see that when violet light strikes the eye the S-cone is said to be stimulated strongly and the L-cone is stimulated weakly. Accordingly, in this article, we have discussed that strong blue light mixed with weaker red light can mimic this pattern of stimulation in the result which is causing humans to perceive colours that have the same nature as violet, but the major difference is here with lower saturation. Television screens and Computer screens rely on this phenomenon. Because they use the model of the RGB colour. They actually cannot produce light that is violet and instead substitute purple that is combining blue light at high intensity with the red light that is of approximately half the intensity.

The earliest pigment is of the violet used by humans that are found in prehistoric cave paintings. 

Again notice that they were made from the minerals manganese and hematite. The term that is Manganese is still used today by the Aranda people and said to be a group that is of indigenous Australians as a traditional pigment that is for colouring the skin during rituals. It is also said that these things are used by the Hopi Indians of Arizona to colour ritual objects.

Famous Colours in the Ancient World

The most famous of all the colours that are a violet-purple dye in the ancient world was Tyrian purple. This was made from a type of sea snail known as the murex which was later found around the Mediterranean. In western Polynesia, we can see that the residents of the islands made a violet dye that was similar to Tyrian purple from the sea urchin. In Central America also we could notice that the inhabitants made a dye from a different sea snail and then the purpura which was found on the coasts of Costa Rica and Nicaragua. 

The Mayans generally used this pigment to dye fabric for religious ceremonies and the Aztecs used it for paintings of ideograms where it symbolized royalty.

Now, let us have a look at a few remarkable and important differences between purple and violet colour:

Difference Between Violet and Purple Colour


Violet Colour

Purple Colour


Violet is a natural colour that is noticeable in nature.

Purple colour is an unnatural pigment. It is a man-made colour shade made by a combination of two colours.


The violet is a spectral colour and one of the dominant wavelengths in the visible spectrum.

Unlike violet, purple is not a spectral colour. It is not recognizable in the visible spectrum.


Violet colour was understood as a fundamental colour in Newton’s colour wheel.

The purple colour was not accepted by Newton in his colour wheel. We can only see violet colour in Newton's wheel.


Violet colour is considered to be a single wavelength range.

Purple colour is made of many wavelengths, which means the purple colour has numerous shades to it.


Violet is not distinct as compared with the purple colour. Sometimes it appears nearly as bluish and sometimes almost blue.

Purple colour has a very bold (dark to be more specific) and distinct colour. The purple colour is almost near the red wavelength region.

These are the important differences between violet and purple colors that can be noticed by anyone. Physics is the subject of nature and enables us to enhance the beauty of nature by understanding what is happening around us.

Did You Know?

1. Carrots used to be Purple in Colour, Now Most are Orange.

When we look for the fun facts of the colour purple, the first one noticed will be purple carrot theories. There are many theories (also stories) as to how and why most carrots are now orange. As far as we can tell, Dutch history has something to do with it. As the story suggests, 17th-century Dutch farmers started to cross-breed specifically for orange carrots in honour of their ruler, William of Orange.

2. Porphyrophobia is Fear of the Colour Purple.

This sounds strange but yes, there are people who are scared of the colour purple. We can't imagine someone being frightened of the colour purple, however, fearing purple colour is a real thing!`` The fear of virtually any colour or the pigment is linked to negative associations. The fear can develop as a result of observation or personal events and experiences, but it often goes back to either a conscious or subconscious mindset, but the extremely negative association between the colour purple and something that left a lasting negative and scary impression."

3. Purple Day is Celebrated on March 26.

Purple Day was founded in the year 2008, by Cassidy Megan of Nova Scotia, Canada. Purple Day is celebrated on March 26 and was celebrated to raise awareness for epilepsy.

4. Violet, or Purple, Eyes are Extremely Rare.

We might have seen celebrities with violet or purple eyes. Most of those people are wearing purple contact lenses - to be noticed and look at different individuals and to be remembered. Violet eyes are very rare, only a few people with Albinism or Alexandria's Genesis may have that colour eyes. 


Understanding the difference between violet and purple at the student level is very vital that will help in the long term.

FAQs on Difference Between Violet and Purple

1. Which colour is darker purple or violet? and what is the major difference between violet and purple?

Among purple and violet, purple is considered to be darker in comparison to violet. Though both belong to the same spectral range, but the wavelength of both colours is different. The wavelength of the purple color is more than the violet colour.

2. What is the difference between purple and violet color and lavender?

Purple is a very popular colour used in fabrics all over the world. Violet is the colour that is visible in the colour spectrum and mixing red and blue actually gives violet. Lavender is the name of a kind of flower available in nature.

3. What happens when the colour violet hits the retina?

The "red" signal path has an additional feature that is worth noting. It showcases a slight bump of activation near the short-wavelength (violet) end of the visible spectrum. When violet light strikes the retina, it activates both the "blue" and (much less) the "red" paths. This type of data is interpreted by the brain in a certain way, which we name "violet."

It is worth mentioning that the pigment in "green" cones has a modest absorption peak at violet wavelengths as well, but the brain appears to overlook it. To learn more, click here.

4. Do Purple and Violet look similar to all the other creatures as well?

No, purple and violet do not look similar to all the other creatures. Purple appears to us as a more saturated hue of violet, although violet and purple objects in nature are fundamentally different. Violet items are just violet, but purple objects are "red and blue at the same time."

5. What is the major difference between purple and violet?

Violet is a genuine hue that is evident in nature because of its presence in the electromagnetic spectrum, which is the major difference in understanding these two colours. Violet is a hue with a wavelength ranging from 380 to 450 nanometers.

Purple is the result of an unnatural combination of red and blue. Violet, on the other hand, may be created using a prism when white light travels through it and splits into hues. Understanding how dispersion works in a glass prism will help you see the distinctions between the two hues. Kindly go to the Vedantu app and website for free study materials.