The Many Meanings of Green


The most universal meanings of green are strongly associated with nature. In today’s world, we have become increasingly concerned with preserving our planet ecologically. Green color meanings have become closely tied with this trend. We have the‘Green Revolution’, ‘Going Green’ and ‘Green Energy’ to name only a few.

Most people are very attracted to Green although there are also negative meanings of Green such as envy and illness. Usually this negative color symbolism of Green results from having too muchYellow mixed in such as the color Puce or Khaki.

The psychology of Green which is pale and muted by tinting or toningwith White or Gray, usually creates a very relaxing environment.These colors generally work beautifully in a spa or health clinic for example.

Greens darkened with Black to create Shades can be very masculine and mysterious. These are often used in corporate offices and restaurants.

The color Green is the most restful and relaxing color to the eye optically because of itsspectral wavelength. However the range of different Greens is very broad. A relatively high proportion of men are genetically Red/Green Colorblind and have difficulty distinguishing some Greens.

A pure Green hue is a Secondary Color on the Basic Color Wheel. It is a mixture of Yellow andBlue.

In my paint swatches above you can see how Green can look totally different depending on the balance of Yellow which is a warm color, or Blue which is a cool color. Notice also that mixing in more Yellow makes the Green lighter. More Blue makes the Green darker. That’s before mixing in any white, grey or black. to tone down the brightness.

Each one of these swatches still belongs to the Green Hue family even though they’ve been mixed. Yellow is the lightest and Blue is the second darkest color so the range of Greens which can be mixed is almost infinite.

The meanings of green can change quite dramatically depending on how intense or dull, light or dark and warm or cool it is.

Positive Meanings of Green

  • Nature, Ecology
  • Conservation, Environment
  • Growth, Renewal
  • Freshness, Cleanliness
  • Health, Youthfulness
  • Peace, Tranquility
  • Harmony, Balance
  • Calming, Relaxation
  • Youth, Joy
  • Abundance, Fruitfulness
  • Security, Trust
  • Money, Prosperity

Negative Meanings of Green

  • Envy, Jealousy
  • Inexperience, Immaturity
  • Illness, Bile
  • Deterioration, Rotting

Meanings of Green in Other Cultures

  • In Christianity Green is associated with baptism and the feast of the Eucharist.
  • Green is the sacred color of Islam and is a sign of respect and veneration.
  • In the Muslim world, Green signifies the Prophet Muhammad.
  • Green is the color of Ireland which is sometimes called the “Emerald Isle”.
  • In England green has heroic meanings and is connected to the stories of Robin Hood.
  • In China Green represents disgrace.
  • Also in China Green Jade is highly prized for its beauty which represents virtue.
  • In North Africa Green symbolizes corruption.
  • In Japan Green signifies eternal life.

Meanings of Green in English Phrases

  • To have a ‘Green Thumb’ means you are an excellent gardener.
  • A glass building to grow plants in is called a ‘Greenhouse’.
  • The social trend toward ecology is called the ‘Green Movement’ or ‘Green Revolution’.
  • Aliens from another planet are called ‘Little Green Men’.
  • To be ‘Green with Envy’ means being jealous of someone.
  • Envy is also sometimes referred to as the ‘Green Eyed Monster’.
  • Being ‘Green Behind the Ears’ or a ‘Greenhorn’ refers to someone without experience.
  • Someone who is ‘Green Around the Gills’ looks sick.
  • The American dollar is often called the ‘Greenback’.
  • A working visa in the United States is called a ‘Green Card’.
  • In a theater or television studio, actors and guests wait in the ‘Green Room’.
  • In the movie business, a project which is approved gets ‘Green Lighted’.
  • Something thought of as newer or better is referred to as ‘Greener Pastures’.

Uses of Green in Popular Culture

  • A traffic light switched to Green means ‘GO’.
  • Christmas colors are Red and Green.
  • Currently much of the world is concerned with conserving energy, ‘Going Green’ and developing sources of Green Energy’.
  • The Green Party in Europe is a political party favoring ‘grass roots’ ecological issues.
  • Greenpeace is a non-profit organization dedicated to ecological issues.
  • Many people associate the color Green with the Military.
  • OSHA Coding in green designates first aid equipment and safe areas.
  • The Green flag of Libya is the only national flag in a single color.
  • Green is the color associated with the Astrological sign of Cancer.
  • In Eastern philosophy Green is associated with the Heart Chakra at the center of the chest which rules our ability to love and empathize.
  • The Emerald is the birthstone for those born in May.
  • The ‘Green Bay Packers’ is a football team in Wisconsin.
  • In auto racing a Green Flag indicates the start or resumption of a race.
  • The puppet character Kermit the Frog is famous for say ‘It’s not easy being Green’.
  • The character The Incredible Hulk turns green and muscular when he gets angry.
  • Music Titles with Green include ‘Blue in Green’ by Miles Davis, ‘Evergreen’ by Barbra Streisand, ‘Green River’ by Credence Clearwater Revival and ‘Forty Shades Of Green’ by Johnny Cash.
  • A popular rock band is called Green Day and Al Green is a popular soul singer.
  • Movies with Green in the title include ‘Green Card’ and ‘Green Mile’.

Green in Nature

  • plants, vegetation
  • grass, spring
  • Caribbean seas, inland lakes
  • vegetables like green peppers, zucchini, brussel sprouts, spinach etc.
  • fruit such as melon, green apples, kiwi, limes, green grapes
  • in the body we have green eyes
  • gems like emeralds, jade, malachite, peridot

Uses of Green in Color Therapy

The conscious and subconscious meanings of Green create calm. It generally relaxes and soothes both mentally and physically. Green can help lift depression and reduce anxiety.

Certain mid-range greens increase appetite.

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Meanings of Yellow / Orange / Red / Violet / Blue