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Purple vs. Violet: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 12, 2023
Purple is a color intermediate between red and blue. Violet is a color at the end of the visible spectrum, close to blue and traditionally considered closer to blue than purple.

Key Differences

Purple represents a rich blend, combining equal parts of blue and red in the visible spectrum. Violet, despite sometimes being used interchangeably with purple, actually leans more towards blue in the spectrum, offering a cooler hue than its often-mistaken counterpart.
Purple, from an artistic standpoint, has been utilized throughout history as a sign of royalty and wealth. Violet, though also used to signify wealth in some historical contexts, is distinctly identified in nature through flowers, giving it an earthly and organic connotation.
The concept of purple can be subjective, sometimes allowing for variations that might lean slightly more towards red or blue, offering a wide range of shades. Violet maintains a slightly more stable representation, consistently presenting a blue-dominant, purplish color.
In terms of symbolism, purple often stands for luxury, power, and ambition, showcasing a potent, vibrant character. On the other hand, violet is associated with meanings of devotion, faith, and mystery, often providing a more gentle and introspective symbolic reference.
In the color wheel used by artists and the fashion industry, purple usually appears more towards the middle of the red and blue scale. Violet appears as a distinct hue, bringing a slightly different, bluish charm that often escapes general notice in a cursory glance.

Comparison Chart

Part of Speech



2 (Pur-ple)
2 (Vi-o-let)

Adjective Form


Example of Idiomatic Use

“Born to the purple”
Rarely used in idioms

Usage in Literature

Often symbolic for royalty
Sometimes literal, referencing flowers

Purple and Violet Definitions


Associated with royalty due to the rarity and cost of the dye originally used to produce it.
The purple robes of the king were lavish and opulent.


A color at the end of the visible spectrum, near blue.
Violets in the garden were a vibrant shade of violet.


A color intermediate between red and blue.
She wore a stunning purple dress.


Any plant or flower of the genus Viola, of many species.
The violet spread its sweet fragrance throughout the meadow.


To become purple, typically due to a change in coloration.
The grapes began to purple as they ripened.


Referring to the highest frequency of visible light, just before ultraviolet.
The spectrum culminated in a stunning violet before shifting into ultraviolet.


A literary term to describe prose that is too elaborate or ornate.
The novel was criticized for its purple prose.


Of a purplish-blue color, similar to that of violets.
The violet curtains provided a gentle hue to the room.


Informally referring to a geographical area as being neither solidly Republican (red) nor Democrat (blue) in the context of U.S. politics.
The candidate focused their campaign on purple states.


A person who has qualities traditionally associated with femininity, such as modesty or gentleness.
He was known to be a violet, always polite and soft-spoken.


Any of a group of colors with a hue between that of violet and red.


Any of various low-growing herbs of the genus Viola, having short-spurred, irregular flowers that are characteristically purplish-blue but sometimes yellow or white.


Cloth of a color between violet and red, formerly worn as a symbol of royalty or high office.


Any of several similar plants, such as an African violet.


Is there a cultural significance to the color purple?

Yes, aside from royalty, it's also associated with mystery, creativity, and magic in various cultures.

Why is purple associated with royalty?

Historically, purple dye was rare and expensive, often reserved for royalty and the wealthy.

Can violet refer to a flower?

Yes, violet can refer to a genus of flowering plants which typically are blueish or purplish.

Are violets always violet?

No, violets, the flowers, can be violet, blue, yellow, white, or even multicolored.

What is the primary difference between purple and violet?

Purple is an even mix of blue and red, while violet is its own color on the spectrum, leaning towards blue.

Are there any popular songs about the color purple?

Yes, “Purple Rain” by Prince and “The Purple People Eater” by Sheb Wooley.

How does violet appear in the rainbow?

Violet is usually the last stripe in a rainbow, following blue and preceding ultraviolet in the spectrum.

How is violet perceived in color psychology?

Violet is often associated with spirituality, mystery, and transformation in color psychology.

Does the word violet appear in English idioms?

It's not common in idioms, unlike purple which appears in phrases like "born to the purple".

In which industries is the color purple predominantly used?

Purple is often used in the beauty, luxury, and sometimes in the health industry.

What does it mean when an area is referred to as ‘purple’ in U.S. politics?

A 'purple' area in U.S. politics refers to a location where the support for Democratic and Republican parties is almost equal.

Is there a shade known as "royal purple"?

Yes, royal purple is a shade that is more bluish and was associated with Roman emperors.

Which color is higher in energy, purple or violet?

Violet has a shorter wavelength than purple, meaning it has higher energy in the light spectrum.

Are purple and violet used interchangeably?

Yes, in everyday language they're often used interchangeably, but technically they are different.

Why are both purple and violet visible less frequently in nature?

Both colors can be complex to create biologically, and therefore appear less frequently in fauna and flora.

What does the term 'purple prose' mean?

'Purple prose' refers to writing that is excessively ornate or overly embellished.

Are there famous works of art prominently featuring purple?

Yes, artists like Prince and Jimi Hendrix have used purple prominently in their work (“Purple Rain” and “Purple Haze”).

Are there works of literature that highlight the color violet?

Yes, “Violet” by Petrarch and “Ultra Violet” by Paul Muldoon are examples.

Can violet light be harmful to our eyes?

Yes, prolonged exposure to violet and nearby ultraviolet light can potentially be harmful to eyes.

Can I mix colors to get violet?

Mixing purple and blue can give you a color close to violet.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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