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color code: # 00FF00
Oberstalleralm (Tyrol)

Green is the color stimulus that is perceived when light falls into the eye with a spectral distribution in which almost only wavelengths between 520 and 565 nm occur. Light with this property can also be remitted as body color .


In the German language, the word green is connected with Old High German  gruoen , which means “grow”, “sprout” or “flourish”.

Color theory

Acid green
color code: # 99FF99
Pale green
color code: # 86A47C
Olive green
color code: # 6B8E23
Patina green
color code: # 3B7561
Hunter green
color code: # 1B7677

The relationship between color name and shade is not linguistically binding, the samples shown here are intended to give the viewer an “approximate” idea .

The “color green” is (besides red and blue ) a basic color of the additive color mixture . With subtractive color mixing , green is achieved by mixing cyan and yellow . The complementary color is magenta .

The lists of green colorants and pigments contain color bodies for coloring substrates.

Green of nature


Chestnut in spring green (with a variety of absorptions in the red area)
Walnut trees in the garden

In nature , green is a common color. Due to the large number of plants with chlorophyll color names are as grass green , lime-green , moss-green , apple green , foliage green or Maigrün defined. It is easy to determine a range of natural green tones (see gallery at the bottom). At the end of the growing season, the amount of chlorophyll decreases and the yellow and red natural pigments in the foliage take effect. Because of this coloring of the vegetation , life and growth are associated with the color green . In spring in particular , “the green” heralds the start of new growth. Green is the color of freshness and naturalness and in a figurative sense of hope and confidence. In winter, fir green in the house and the rooms and windows decorated with it and the Christmas tree are the substitutes for summer green.

The greening (in the spring) is associated with the color green. The symbolism known in the Middle Ages for a beginning love emerged from this. In the following the words “the green side” as the better of people and - as a negative - the expression “not being green for someone”. The oldest evidence is found in a medieval passion about St. Catherine, in which it says about her enemies: “What against ir vil ungrune”.

Sometimes “green” is associated negatively with inexperience or immaturity due to the color of unripe fruit . Sayings like “being green behind the ears” or the term “greenhorn” refer to this. The “greenhorn” for the newcomer also comes from this color interpretation.

A green hummingbird ( Eupherusa eximia )

Environmental protection, politics and economy

The green chlorophyll of the plants, often represented graphically as a leaf, gave the symbolism for nature and environmental protection . So it became the symbol color and namesake of the party Die Grünen in Germany . Internationally , parties that emerged from the environmental movement also use green as a symbolic color.

The third largest Swiss Federal Council party in terms of members , the Swiss People's Party (SVP) uses a dark green as its distinguishing feature.

Based on this reference to nature, green is used as a symbol for sustainability and human and civil rights . The English term Green Goal in the double meaning of "green (soccer) goal" and "green goal setting" is used for environmental protection at major soccer events. Other terms with this reference are “green economy ”, “ green information technology ” or “green technology”.

Green pigments

Green pigments, which are used as colorants in painting, for example, are often inorganic substances that contain chromium (such as chromium dioxide ), copper (basic copper carbonate, 2CuCO3.Cu (OH) 2) or cobalt (cobalt-chromium-green-spinel, CoCr2O4) included. For this purpose, naturally occurring minerals in the past, such as malachite , chrysocolla or dioptase, were finely ground . Natural mineral weathering products such as Veronese or Bohemian Green Earth are also used. The notorious Schweinfurt green , a copper arsenite acetate (C 4 H 6 As 6 Cu 4 O 16 ), on the other hand, is no longer freely available in stores.

Green as a symbol


In Christianity, green with reference to spring green is the color of the resurrection , it is the Easter color. More generalized, green in Ireland stands for Catholicism and in particular for St. Patrick's Day . Bishops wear a green prelate hat in their coat of arms because the bishop's color was green until 1867.

Green is also a liturgical color . In the Roman Catholic Church , green has been worn in the time of the year since the Second Vatican Council . The Protestant churches use green during Epiphany , pre-Lent and Trinity .


Green is the color of Islam . The Prophet Mohammed is said to have preferred to dress in green. Undoubtedly, this preference has to do with green as the color of vegetation, which in a desert region like the region of origin of Islam stands in a special way for life, survival and paradise. Accordingly, decorative elements in mosques are preferably kept in green. Many mosques in the Middle East are lit green at night. The flags of many Islamic states contain green, including prominently the flags of Mauritania , Saudi Arabia and, between 1977 and 2011, the flag of Libya .


In China , the color green is also a symbol of life, spring and the East. Within the framework of the traditional five-element theory , certain colors were - and in some cases still are - assigned to certain things, shapes and appearances.

Signal color

As a signal color, green describes the normal , unproblematic , positive or orderly . Green is used to mark processes that work or are allowed. So is the green light give general for the release of a process, such as at the traffic light . When there is a green wave , several traffic lights in a street are switched to green.

On the measuring scale of display instruments there is often the green area , which marks the correct operation, in contrast to the red area for an impermissible condition. In the case of technical devices, a green light-emitting diode usually signals operation and a red light-emitting diode indicates that it is not working . This color scheme has also established itself on control buttons, for example on cell phones .

In German authorities and offices, there is a strictly hierarchical color code for file notes , paraphs or instructions. Green is always reserved for the top hierarchy level, followed by red and blue. For a ministry, this means that green is assigned to the minister and red to its state secretaries.


Light malachite from the Urals

Intense green tones are called poison green. For a long time, the color-intensive and permanent green pigments were primarily the arsenic Schweinfurt green, poisonous pigments, as well as chrome green , copper acetate (also known as verdigris) and other copper patina . Only slightly colored green earths were less toxic . The term "poison green" was identified by the Brothers Grimm in their dictionary using the Siegmund Suevus Spiegel des Menschen Leben as early as 1588.

The face color green (= pale) stands because of the lack of blood red for illness , both of the body and for the sick soul. In this sense, the color green is also considered “poisonous” in traditional occidental culture. Transferred, green then stands for greed and envy, as in the saying “green is greed ” or colloquially also “green before envy” (next to “yellow before envy”).



British Formula 2 racing car Lotus 48 (1967)

At the beginning of the 20th century, colors were specified for the cars of the individual nations at racing events. Green was mandatory for British vehicles and British Racing Green is still one of the classic colors of British vehicles.

Traffic light
The traffic light green signals permission in terms of the affirmative effect of the color.

A dark shade of green (bottle green, chrome oxide green, fir green) has been the standard color for
passenger coaches at many railway companies since the end of the 19th century , sometimes also for locomotives , especially for electric locomotives . This coloring is based on the durability and economy of the pigments that can be used, as well as good lightfastness and low susceptibility to dirt. Since the 1970s, the green paints have increasingly been replaced by lighter and stronger colors, including railway paints .

Martial arts

Budo belt (Japanese Obi) in the colors of the five student grades (Japanese Gokyū)

In many martial arts - such as Jiu Jitsu , Judo , Taekwondo and Karate or Kung Fu - a belt (Japanese obi ) is worn as part of martial arts clothing (Japanese keikogi ). The green belt represents the level of knowledge of Budōka and is reserved for the lower to advanced student grades (Japanese Kyū grade).

Heraldry, phaleristics and vexillology

In heraldry (heraldry), green is one of the classic tinctures and, in contrast to the metals gold and silver, is the color . The sign of the Order of Lazarus consists of a green cross. The cross of the Order of Avis was also green. Green is also found in numerous flags, such as that of Brazil , India , Ireland , Italy , Mexico , Nigeria , Portugal and Saudi Arabia .

Card game

In the German leaf , the playing color of spades on the French leaf is called "green". There are also words as green card color, descriptive terms “ foliage ”, “leaf” and in Bavaria “grass” in use.

Clothing and design

  • The clothes in hospital operating theaters have recently been green. According to general opinion, red blood stains are not as noticeable as on white coats. In particular, green clothing has the advantage of not reflecting the bright light in the operating room so strongly. The afterimage effect on a white background, when surgeons have looked at their mostly red work for a long time, is less pronounced on green.
  • The camouflage clothing of many armies is green, thus imitating the green chlorophyll. Pigments are used for this, which imitate the entire absorption spectrum including the infrared part of the chlorophyll green. At first, special pigment mixtures were used and then specifically leaf-colored individual pigments were developed. Using appropriate coupling groups, textile dyes are produced from these for different substrates.
  • Red wine bottles usually consist of green glass, which prevents strong incidence of light and the red wine falsifying color components.

Gallery (natural tones)

See also


  • Eva Heller : How colors work. Color psychology, color symbolism, creative color design . 3. Edition. Rowohlt, Reinbek near Hamburg 2006, ISBN 3-499-61960-1 , p. 71-85 (first edition: 1999).
  • Michael Kröger: Green is annoying. In the focus of a color. Marta Herford, Herford 2016, ISBN 978-3-938433-24-9 (exhibition catalog).

Web links

Wiktionary: Green  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: green  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Green  - Collection of images, videos, and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ The dictionary of origin (=  Der Duden in twelve volumes . Volume 7 ). 5th edition. Dudenverlag, Berlin 2014, p. 355 ( ). ;
    Digital dictionary of the German language ( "green" );
    Friedrich Kluge : Etymological dictionary of the German language . 7th edition. Trübner, Strasbourg 1910, p. 183 f . ( ).
  2. According to RAL 6021 according to Dr. Web: The RAL color system as 80885F, accessed on May 26, 2011. (According to another source: hexadecimal color value: 98fb98.)
  3. Archive link ( Memento of the original from July 19, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  4. Red line. In: Der Spiegel. 1996, accessed November 13, 2018 .
  5. acid green. In: Jacob Grimm , Wilhelm Grimm (Hrsg.): German dictionary . tape 7 : Ordinary – Glaive - (IV, 1st section, part 4). S. Hirzel, Leipzig 1949, Sp. 7448 ( ).
  6. ↑ A collection of idioms
  7. Order of the sashes - Kung Fu Berlin. In: Retrieved May 1, 2016 .
  8. Why are surgical clothing mostly green? In: National Geographic Germany. Archived from the original on April 5, 2013 ; accessed on May 15, 2017 .