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Cyan may be used as the name of any of a number of colors in the blue/green range of the spectrum
A spectrum is a condition that is not limited to a specific set of values but can vary infinitely within a continuum. The word saw its first scientific use within the field of optics to describe the rainbow of colors in visible light when separated using a prism; it has since been applied by...

. In reference to the visible spectrum
Visible spectrum
The visible spectrum is the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that is visible to the human eye. Electromagnetic radiation in this range of wavelengths is called visible light or simply light. A typical human eye will respond to wavelengths from about 390 to 750 nm. In terms of...

 cyan is used to refer to the color
Color or colour is the visual perceptual property corresponding in humans to the categories called red, green, blue and others. Color derives from the spectrum of light interacting in the eye with the spectral sensitivities of the light receptors...

 obtained by mixing equal amounts of green
Green is a color, the perception of which is evoked by light having a spectrum dominated by energy with a wavelength of roughly 520–570 nanometres. In the subtractive color system, it is not a primary color, but is created out of a mixture of yellow and blue, or yellow and cyan; it is considered...

 and blue
Blue is a colour, the perception of which is evoked by light having a spectrum dominated by energy with a wavelength of roughly 440–490 nm. It is considered one of the additive primary colours. On the HSV Colour Wheel, the complement of blue is yellow; that is, a colour corresponding to an equal...

Light or visible light is electromagnetic radiation that is visible to the human eye, and is responsible for the sense of sight. Visible light has wavelength in a range from about 380 nanometres to about 740 nm, with a frequency range of about 405 THz to 790 THz...

 or the removal of red from white light. As such, cyan is the complement
Complementary color
Complementary colors are pairs of colors that are of “opposite” hue in some color model. The exact hue “complementary” to a given hue depends on the model in question, and perceptually uniform, additive, and subtractive color models, for example, have differing complements for any given color.-...

 of red
Red is any of a number of similar colors evoked by light consisting predominantly of the longest wavelengths of light discernible by the human eye, in the wavelength range of roughly 630–740 nm. Longer wavelengths than this are called infrared , and cannot be seen by the naked eye...

 in RGB
RGB color model
The RGB color model is an additive color model in which red, green, and blue light is added together in various ways to reproduce a broad array of colors...

 and CMYK color model
CMYK color model
The CMYK color model is a subtractive color model, used in color printing, and is also used to describe the printing process itself. CMYK refers to the four inks used in some color printing: cyan, magenta, yellow, and key...

s: cyan pigment
A pigment is a material that changes the color of reflected or transmitted light as the result of wavelength-selective absorption. This physical process differs from fluorescence, phosphorescence, and other forms of luminescence, in which a material emits light.Many materials selectively absorb...

s absorb red light.

Cyan is also called aqua
Aqua (color)
Aqua is a tone of the color cyan which is identical to the color electric cyan, one of the three secondary colors of the HSV color wheel, along with magenta and yellow. It is precisely halfway between green and blue on the color wheel...

 or blue-green, and was formerly known as "cyan blue".

The first recorded use of cyan blue (as noted above, "cyan blue" was the name used for the color "cyan" in the 19th century) as a color name in English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 was in 1879.

Some tones of color close to cyan in the cyan color range are teal
Teal (color)
Teal is a medium blue-green color. It is named after the Common Teal, a member of the duck family, whose eyes are surrounded by the color.Teal is one of the initial group of 16 HTML/CSS web colors formulated in 1987, shown below....

, turquoise
Turquoise (color)
Turquoise or is a slightly blueish tone of light green. The color is based on the gem turquoise. The term comes from the French for Turkish.At right is displayed the X11 color named turquoise....

, electric blue
Electric blue (color)
Electric blue is a color close to cyan that is a representation of the color of lightning, an electric spark, and argon signs; it is named after the ionized air glow produced during electrical discharges....

 and aquamarine
Aquamarine (color)
Aquamarine is a color that is a pale bright tint of spring green toned toward cyan. It is named after the mineral aquamarine, a gemstone mainly found in granite rocks...


Electric cyan (web color aqua)

The vivid cyan that is seen on an electronic
Electronics is the branch of science, engineering and technology that deals with electrical circuits involving active electrical components such as vacuum tubes, transistors, diodes and integrated circuits, and associated passive interconnection technologies...

 display device
Display device
A display device is an output device for presentation of information in visual or tactile form...

 (shown at right) is also referred to as electric cyan to distinguish it from the less vivid turquoise blue-like process cyan used in CMYK color printing
Color printing
Color printing or Colour printing is the reproduction of an image or text in color...

 (shown below). (Note: while the color is defined by definite RGB values, the display of the color will vary depending on the absolute color space
Absolute color space
In color science, there are two meanings of the term absolute color space:* A color space in which the perceptual difference between colors is directly related to distances between colors as represented by points in the color space....

 used and the nature of the physical display device, e.g. computer monitor, and if this page is printed it is likely that the color shown will be far from representative.)

The web color aqua is an alias for electric cyan, that is, it is exactly the same color shown here as electric cyan.

To reproduce electric cyan in inks, it is necessary to add some white ink to the printer's cyan below, so when it is reproduced in printing, it is not a primary subtractive color. It is called aqua (a name in use since 1598) because it is a color commonly associated with water
Water is a chemical substance with the chemical formula H2O. A water molecule contains one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms connected by covalent bonds. Water is a liquid at ambient conditions, but it often co-exists on Earth with its solid state, ice, and gaseous state . Water also exists in a...

, such as the appearance of the water at a tropical beach.

Process cyan (pigment cyan) (printer's cyan)

Cyan is also one of the common inks used in four-color printing, along with magenta
Magenta is a color evoked by light stronger in blue and red wavelengths than in yellowish-green wavelengths . In light experiments, magenta can be produced by removing the lime-green wavelengths from white light...

, yellow
Yellow is the color evoked by light that stimulates both the L and M cone cells of the retina about equally, with no significant stimulation of the S cone cells. Light with a wavelength of 570–590 nm is yellow, as is light with a suitable mixture of red and green...

, and black
Black is the color of objects that do not emit or reflect light in any part of the visible spectrum; they absorb all such frequencies of light...

; this set of colors is referred to as CMYK as in spectrum(s).

While both the additive secondary and the subtractive primary are called cyan, they can be substantially different from one another. Cyan printing ink can be more saturated or less saturated than the RGB secondary cyan, depending on what RGB color space
RGB color space
An RGB color space is any additive color space based on the RGB color model. A particular RGB color space is defined by the three chromaticities of the red, green, and blue additive primaries, and can produce any chromaticity that is the triangle defined by those primary colors...

 and ink are considered.

Process cyan is not an RGB color, and there is no fixed conversion from CMYK primaries to RGB. Different formulations are used for printer's ink, so there can be variations in the printed color that is pure cyan ink. A typical formulation of process cyan is shown in the color box at right.

Variations of cyan

Light cyan

At right is displayed the web color light cyan.


At right is displayed the web color Celeste
Celeste (colour)
Celeste is the colloquial name for the turquoise blue colour associated with the Italian Bianchi Bicycle Company and sometimes known as Bianchi Green...

Bianchi Bicycles
F.I.V. Edoardo Bianchi S.p.A is the world's oldest bicycle-making company still in existence, having pioneered the use of equal-sized wheels with pneumatic rubber tires in 1885. It was founded in Italy in 1885. It produced cars and commercial vehicles from 1900 to 1939; and motorcycles from 1897 to...


A molecule is an electrically neutral group of at least two atoms held together by covalent chemical bonds. Molecules are distinguished from ions by their electrical charge...


  • Pure water is nearly colorless. However, it does absorb
    Water absorption
    During the transmission of electromagnetic radiation through a medium containing water molecules, portions of the electromagnetic spectrum are absorbed by water molecules...

     slightly more red light than blue, giving large volumes of water a bluish tint; increased scattering of blue light due to fine particles in the water shifts the blue color toward green, for a typically cyan net color.
  • Cyanide
    A cyanide is a chemical compound that contains the cyano group, -C≡N, which consists of a carbon atom triple-bonded to a nitrogen atom. Cyanides most commonly refer to salts of the anion CN−. Most cyanides are highly toxic....

     derives its name from Prussian blue
    Prussian blue
    Prussian blue is a dark blue pigment with the idealized formula Fe718. Another name for the color Prussian blue is Berlin blue or, in painting, Parisian blue. Turnbull's blue is the same substance but is made from different reagents....

    , a blue pigment containing the cyanide ion.

Bacteria are a large domain of prokaryotic microorganisms. Typically a few micrometres in length, bacteria have a wide range of shapes, ranging from spheres to rods and spirals...

  • Cyanobacteria (sometimes called blue-green algae) are an important link in the food chain
    Food chain
    A food web depicts feeding connections in an ecological community. Ecologists can broadly lump all life forms into one of two categories called trophic levels: 1) the autotrophs, and 2) the heterotrophs...


Architecture is both the process and product of planning, designing and construction. Architectural works, in the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural and political symbols and as works of art...

  • Cyan colored tile
    A tile is a manufactured piece of hard-wearing material such as ceramic, stone, metal, or even glass. Tiles are generally used for covering roofs, floors, walls, showers, or other objects such as tabletops...

    s are often used to pave swimming pool
    Swimming pool
    A swimming pool, swimming bath, wading pool, or simply a pool, is a container filled with water intended for swimming or water-based recreation. There are many standard sizes; the largest is the Olympic-size swimming pool...

    s to make the water within them seem more intensely colored, and therefore more inviting.

Astronomy is a natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth...

  • The planet
    A planet is a celestial body orbiting a star or stellar remnant that is massive enough to be rounded by its own gravity, is not massive enough to cause thermonuclear fusion, and has cleared its neighbouring region of planetesimals.The term planet is ancient, with ties to history, science,...

    Uranus is the seventh planet from the Sun. It has the third-largest planetary radius and fourth-largest planetary mass in the Solar System. It is named after the ancient Greek deity of the sky Uranus , the father of Cronus and grandfather of Zeus...

     is colored cyan because of the abundance of methane
    Methane is a chemical compound with the chemical formula . It is the simplest alkane, the principal component of natural gas, and probably the most abundant organic compound on earth. The relative abundance of methane makes it an attractive fuel...

     in its atmosphere
    An atmosphere is a layer of gases that may surround a material body of sufficient mass, and that is held in place by the gravity of the body. An atmosphere may be retained for a longer duration, if the gravity is high and the atmosphere's temperature is low...


A computer is a programmable machine designed to sequentially and automatically carry out a sequence of arithmetic or logical operations. The particular sequence of operations can be changed readily, allowing the computer to solve more than one kind of problem...


  • CyanogenMod
    CyanogenMod is an after-market replacement for the firmware of over sixty cell phones and Internet tablets. Based on the Android mobile computer operating system, it offers features and options not found in the official firmware distributed by vendors of these devices.Features supported by...

     alternative firmware for the operating system Android.

In physics, energy is an indirectly observed quantity. It is often understood as the ability a physical system has to do work on other physical systems...

  • Natural gas
    Natural gas
    Natural gas is a naturally occurring gas mixture consisting primarily of methane, typically with 0–20% higher hydrocarbons . It is found associated with other hydrocarbon fuel, in coal beds, as methane clathrates, and is an important fuel source and a major feedstock for fertilizers.Most natural...

     (methane), used by many for home cooking on gas stove
    Gas stove
    In cooking, a gas stove is a cooker which uses natural gas, propane, butane, liquefied petroleum gas or other flammable gas as a fuel source.-History:...

    s, has a cyan colored flame
    A flame is the visible , gaseous part of a fire. It is caused by a highly exothermic reaction taking place in a thin zone...

     when burned.

Medicine is the science and art of healing. It encompasses a variety of health care practices evolved to maintain and restore health by the prevention and treatment of illness....

  • Cyanosis
    Cyanosis is the appearance of a blue or purple coloration of the skin or mucous membranes due to the tissues near the skin surface being low on oxygen. The onset of cyanosis is 2.5 g/dL of deoxyhemoglobin. The bluish color is more readily apparent in those with high hemoglobin counts than it is...

     is an abnormal blueness of the skin, usually a sign of poor oxygen intake. i.e. the patient is "cyanotic".

Music is an art form whose medium is sound and silence. Its common elements are pitch , rhythm , dynamics, and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture...

  • Cyan
    Cyan (band)
    Cyan is a British progressive rock band original formed by Rob Reed in 1984, but which split up after a few performances and one demo tape. In 1991 Rob Reed received a letter from a French fan who had received the original demo from Nick Barrett and was amazed that there was still an interest in...

    , was a British
    United Kingdom
    The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

     progressive rock
    Progressive rock
    Progressive rock is a subgenre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s as part of a "mostly British attempt to elevate rock music to new levels of artistic credibility." John Covach, in Contemporary Music Review, says that many thought it would not just "succeed the pop of...

     band from the 1980s and 1990s.

Photography is the art, science and practice of creating durable images by recording light or other electromagnetic radiation, either electronically by means of an image sensor or chemically by means of a light-sensitive material such as photographic film...

  • Cyanotype
    Cyanotype is a photographic printing process that gives a cyan-blue print. The process was popular in engineering circles well into the 20th century. The simple and low-cost process enabled them to produce large-scale copies of their work, referred to as blueprints...

    , or blueprint
    A blueprint is a type of paper-based reproduction usually of a technical drawing, documenting an architecture or an engineering design. More generally, the term "blueprint" has come to be used to refer to any detailed plan....

    , a monochrome
    Monochrome describes paintings, drawings, design, or photographs in one color or shades of one color. A monochromatic object or image has colors in shades of limited colors or hues. Images using only shades of grey are called grayscale or black-and-white...

     photographic printing process that predates the use of the word cyan as a color, yields a deep cyan-blue colored print based on the Prussian blue pigment.

Video games

  • Cyan Garamonde is a named character in Final Fantasy VI
    Final Fantasy VI
    is a role-playing video game developed and published by Square , released in 1994 for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System as a part of the Final Fantasy series. Set in a fantasy world with a technology level equivalent to that of the Second Industrial Revolution, the game's story focuses on a...

  • Cyan Worlds
    Cyan Worlds
    Cyan Worlds, Inc. is a video game development company, founded by brothers Rand and Robyn Miller in 1987, and best known as the creators of the Myst series. After Myst and its sequel Riven sold several million copies each, Cyan went on to create the massively multiplayer online adventure, Uru,...

     released the video game Myst
    Myst is a graphic adventure video game designed and directed by the brothers Robyn and Rand Miller. It was developed by Cyan , a Spokane, Washington––based studio, and published and distributed by Brøderbund. The Millers began working on Myst in and released it for the Mac OS computer on September...

     for the Macintosh computer in 1993.

See also

  • List of colors
  • Distinguishing blue from green in language
    Distinguishing blue from green in language
    The English language makes a distinction between blue and green, but some languages do not. Of these, quite a number, mostly in Africa, do not distinguish blue from black either, while there are a handful of languages that do not distinguish blue from black but have a separate term for green...

  • Orange
    Orange (colour)
    The colour orange occurs between red and yellow in the visible spectrum at a wavelength of about 585–620 nm, and has a hue of 30° in HSV colour space. It is numerically halfway between red and yellow in a gamma-compressed RGB colour space, the expression of which is the RGB colour wheel. The...

    , formerly called "yellow-red" (compare with blue-green)