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Difference Between Violet and Purple

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What is Violet and Purple?

To understand the violet and purple difference, it is important to know what these terms mean and how colours are perceived by the human eye. When an object reflects off the light of a particular wavelength while absorbing the rest, the reflected wavelength is perceived by us as colour. Light enters through the eyes and reaches the retina, which harbors rod cells and cone cells, the photoreceptors of our body. Cone cells are usually responsible for perceiving colours. 

Each cone cell responsible for different colors generates a mixture of reactions emitting a distinct signal. The signal travels via the optic nerve to reach the brain lobes, responsible for vision, to decide on the color.

Both purple and violet are different colors but often appear the same. These two color names are even used reciprocally, but they exhibit several differences.

Last updated date: 26th Sep 2023
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Characteristics of Violet and Purple

Violet: It is a natural pigment that is found in nature, and it belongs to the visible range of the electromagnetic spectrum. Violet color is a product of dispersion, a process through which white light splits into seven via a prism. Its wavelength lies between 380-420 nm. It is represented as a higher intensity than blue in the RGB (red-green-blue)model with little to no green or red component. 

Purple: Purple does not occur naturally and is neither a spectral color. It is created by mixing varying proportions of red and blue pigment. Therefore, it does not possess a distinct wavelength but rather is a combination of multiple wavelengths. One can never generate the color purple via the process of dispersion through a prism and is not accepted as a fundamental color under Newton’s color wheel.

Differences Between Violet and Purple





Light wavelength

Violet is a spectral color that falls under the visible light range with its wavelength being short and lying between blue and Ultraviolet rays. It comprises a single wavelength. 

Purple is not a spectral color. It arises due to the mixing of two colors, red and blue, and it has a longer wavelength closer to red. It comprises multiple wavelengths.

Hue and intensity

Violet is a specific color with a bluish-purple hue, and it is brighter and more intense than other shades of purple.

Purple encompasses a broader range of shades that include both blue and red-based purples


Violet is perceived as a cooler and calming color due to its proximity to the blue wavelength. 

Purple is perceived more as a warmer tone due to its association with red.


Violet is regarded as a fundamental color as per Newton's color wheel. It occurs naturally and is a natural pigment. 

Purple is not approved as a fundamental color as per Newton’s color wheel. It is not a natural color and can not be found to occur in nature.

Color mixing

Violet can not be created by mixing colors. It exists as a distinct wavelength. 

Purple can be created by mixing blue and red pigments or lights in various proportions. 


To summarize, this article sheds light on the differences between violet and purple. It also explains what is violet and purple and elaborates on their characteristics. Violet is a naturally occurring spectral color with a distinct wavelength lying between blue and UV rays in the electromagnetic spectrum. Purple, on the other hand, is not a naturally occurring color. It is neither a spectral color. It is a combination of blue and purple and therefore, comprises multiple wavelengths.

FAQs on Difference Between Violet and Purple

1. What is the primary difference between violet and purple?

It is crucial to understand the characteristics of violet and purple to learn their differences. Violet is a spectral color with its wavelength lying between blue and UV rays. While purple is an unnatural color, a result due to the mixing of blue and red pigment. Thus, violet is a specific color that appears as a brighter and more intense version of blue, and purple is a generic color comprising different shades.

2. Can the terms violet and purple be used interchangeably?

Often purple and violet are used interchangeably in an everyday context, however, the two possess starkly different properties. Violet has a shorter wavelength and is closer to blue. It has a cool undertone and refers to a specific shade of color. Purple, on the other hand, is a generic shade that encompasses a broad range of shades. It includes both blue and red-based shades of purple. Due to its association with red, it often has a warm undertone and can possess longer wavelengths of light.

3. Are violet and purple complementary colors?

Before learning about the complementarity between purple and violet, it is crucial to understand what complementary colors are. Usually, when two colors generate a strong contrast when placed adjacent to one another, and their positions are opposite to each other on the color wheel, the colors are said to be complementary. Violet being close to blue and purple towards the shade of red, often create an aesthetically pleasing and visually appealing contrast. Thus, the two colors can be considered to be complimentary.