The Color Green: Its Different Shades and Their Meanings

Rubber boots on welcome mat at green painted door
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Green is the color of life, of nature. Explore meanings, palettes, and the language and symbolism of the color green.

The term Shades of Green is synonymous with or represents various shades of the color green: apple, aquamarine, beryl, ​chartreuse, emerald, fir, forest, grass green, jade, kelly green, lawn green, leaf green, lime, mint, moss, olive, olive drab, pea green, pine, sage, sap, sea green, seafoam, spring green, viridian.

Nature and Culture

Green is life. Abundant in nature, green signifies growth, renewal, health, and the environment. On the flip side, green is jealousy or envy (the green-eyed monster) and inexperience.

It is a restful color with some of the same calming attributes of blue. Like blue, time moves faster in a green room.

Green is strongly associated with Ireland, the Irish, and St. Patrick's Day. Green also has close associations with Islam.

Because of all the green in nature the color is reminiscent of Spring. It's also the color for "go" on a traffic light. Grow and Go with Green. Outside of traffic lights, coupled with red, it's a Christmas color.

Awareness ribbons that use shades of green include: 

  • Various diseases and conditions such as: Tissue and Organ Donation or Transplants, Depression in Adults or Children, Bipolar Disorder, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Eye Injuries, Tourette's Syndrome, Bone Marrow Transplants and Donation, Fanconi's Syndrome, Von Hippel Lindau, Glaucoma, Leukemia, Fibrodysplasia Ossificans, Kidney Cancer or Kidney Disease, Neural Tube Defects, Mitochondrial Disease, Cerebral Palsy,Neurofibromatosis, Lissencephaly, Cornelia de Lange Syndrome
  • Lymphoma, Lyme Disease, Sandhoff Disease (lime green)
  • Save Darfur
  • Stem Cell Research
  • Save the Earth
  • Go Green
  • Recycling
  • Medical Marijuana
  • Support Family Farms and Rural Communities

Using Green

  • With both a warming and cooling effect, the color green denotes balance, harmony, and stability.
  • Use several shades of green for a fresh, Springtime feel.
  • Olive, also called olive drab, is a not so drab summery green that may have military overtones for some people.

Using Green With Other Colors

  • Green with blue produces echoes of nature - water and forest and can denote new beginnings and growth.
  • Green with brown, tan, or beige says organic or recycled and can be a good color combination for packaging of those type of products.
  • Tri-color combinations of green with yellow and black or white are sporty, outdoorsy colors. Purple with green can be high contrast, lively.
  • Lime green with orange and yellow is a fresh and fruity palette..

Color Palettes

These green color palettes feature shades of green combined with gray, yellow, black, purple, lavender, and brown for some earthy, retro, and conservative looks.

In Other Design Fields:

  • Map Colors Grass is green but also...

Color Names:

  • apple
  • aquamarine
  • beryl
  • chartreuse
  • emerald
  • fir
  • forest
  • grass green
  • jade
  • kelly green
  • lawn green
  • leaf green
  • lime
  • mint
  • moss
  • olive
  • olive drab
  • pea green
  • pine
  • sage
  • sap
  • sea green
  • seafoam
  • spring green
  • viridian

Green Language

Colorful, familiar phrases can help a designer see how their color of choice might be perceived by others, both the positive and negative aspects.

Good ​green

  • Green light - go, permission to proceed (with a task)
  • The green room - in theater or televisions it is the room where performers and guests go to relax
  • Green thumb - good with plants
  • Greenback - US dollar bill, money
  • Greener pastures - something newer or better (or perceived to be better), such as a new job

Bad green

  • Green-eyed monster - jealousy
  • Green with envy - jealous or envious
  • Green - inexperienced, untested, untrained
  • Greenhorn - novice, trainee, beginner
  • Green around the gills - pale, sickly