The Many Meanings of Orange


The meanings of Orange tend to be quite ambiguous, being neither considered positive or negative. The pure Orange hue is a Secondary Color. It’s a blending of Yellow and Red on the Basic Color Wheel.

Because it’s a mixture of two colors, a more Yellow/Orangewill tend to create color meanings more closely associated withYellow. And of course a Red/Orange will naturally have more of the color symbolism of Red.

Pale, neutralized Orange Color Schemes generally create a color psychology that feels more earthy the closer they get to beige, tan and brown.

In general an Orange hue is a warm, happy color. It comes across slightly more intense than Yellow and less aggressive than Red.

In my paint swatches above you can see how the Secondary Color Orange can be varied by adding more Yellow or more Red. When mixing your Primary Colors to make the Secondary Orange, more Yellow makes the Orange lighter. More Red makes the Orange darker. That’s before mixing in any white, grey or black to tone down the brightness.

They are all still called an Orange Hue even though they’ve been altered quite a bit. Each one of these swatches could conceivably elicit a completely different reaction. The subconscious meanings of orange or any other color are both personal and cultural.

It’s not an exact science but interesting all the same !

Positive Meanings of Orange

  • Social, Gregarious
  • Jovial, Exuberant
  • Youthful, Cheerful
  • Adventurous, Daring
  • Energetic without Aggression
  • Creative, Constructive
  • Good Health
  • Exciting, Warm

Negative Meanings of Orange

  • Frivolous, Lack of Seriousness
  • Flamboyant, Loud
  • Crass, Low Class

Meanings of Orange in Other Cultures

  • Buddhist monks wear Saffron Orange robes which are Yellow-Orange.
  • In Eastern philosophy, the Orange Chakra is in the abdomen and is the creative center.
  • To Native Americans Orange represents learning or kinship.
  • In Northern Ireland, Orange represents Protestantism and they call themselves‘Orangemen’.
  • In the United States and Canada, Orange represents Halloween.
  • In the Netherlands, Orange represents royalty and is referred to as the House of Orange.

Meanings of Orange in English Phrases& Pop Culture

  • Often used as colors for sports teams such as Baltimore Orioles and Cleveland Browns.
  • In the United States and Canada Thanksgiving is celebrated with Orange decorations.
  • Bright Orange is often used to signify bargain pricing in the United States.
  • School Buses are painted Orange in the United States.
  • An Orange Blinking Traffic Light means caution – or slow down.
  • OSHA Orange Coding designates dangerous machine parts or equipment.
  • In Astrology, Yellow/Orange is associated with Leo.
  • Orange is associated with citrus and sunshine so it’s often used to symbolize Vitamin C.
  • Stanley Kubrick’s film “A Clockwork Orange” became a cult classic in the 1970’s.
  • The Republic of the Orange Free State is a province in South Africa.
  • In 2005 the artist Christo installed 7500 Orange Flagged arches in Central Park, NYC called “The Gates”.
  • Hollywood often refers to Orange County, California, especially shows like “Arrested Development”.
  • People who use too much fake tanning products are often said to have an Orange Glow.
  • Brunettes who bleach their hair badly often end up having “Orange Hair”.
  • Agent Orange was used during the Vietnam War with devastating results.
  • Orange Crush is the name of both a soft drink and an REM song.

Orange in Nature

  • fall season, autumn leaves
  • heat, fire, flame
  • sunset, sunrise
  • fruit such as oranges, mangoes, apricots, peaches, tangerines
  • vegetables like squash, orange peppers, pumpkin, yams, carrots
  • goldfish, tropical fish
  • flowers like gerbera daisies, bird of paradise, orange lily, protea
  • copper, brass, topaz

Uses for Orange in Color Therapy

Orange energizes and can be invigorating. It also often brings thoughts of citrus immediately to mind. Like Pavlov’s Dog, this stimulates appetite and improves the digestive system.

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