The Meanings of Orange

Orange sunset and orange sports car

Orange is vibrant. It’s hot, healthy, fruity and engaging – but it can be abrasive and crass. It’s a polarizing color. People either love it or detest it.

Oranges fruitOrange is the only color of the spectrum whose name was taken from an object, the popular fruit - the orange. In nature it’s the color of vivid sunsets, fire, vegetables, flowers, fish, and many citrus fruits. In our contemporary world, orange is the color of marmalade, Halloween, traffic cones, life rafts, cheetos, and Halloween.

Orange symbolizes energy, vitality, cheer, excitement, adventure, warmth, and good health. However, pure orange can be brass; however, it may suggest a lack of serious intellectual values and bad taste.

Orange is currently a trendy, hip color. It was a “groovy color” back in the 70s and then it faded away. In 1991, an article in Forbes magazine about how orange affects consumer choices concluded that orange meant cheap. (Note: “Cheap” in this case meant a good buy for the money.)

It’s worth noting that there are many shades of orange – and different meanings. Some may be more appealing to those who find orange difficult: terracotta or cayenne – a dark orange, persimmon - a red-orange, pumpkin - a pure orange, mango - a yellow orange, salmon - a pink orange, melon - a light orange,.

6 oranges - terracotta, persimmon, pumpkin, mango, salmon, melon

Darker oranges offer a sense of comfort; some are spicy, some are earthy. Lighter oranges are soothing and healthy.

Global Meanings of Orange

Orange's global similarities are significant:

Orange evokes the taste of healthy fruits, bursting with juice.

Orange is associated with vitamin C and good health.

Orange is symbolic of autumn.

Children all over the world are drawn to orange.

Orange is the color of life rafts, hazard cones, and police vests.

Unique Meanings of Orange in Different Cultures

Orange is both the name and emblematic color of the royal family in the Netherlands.

Orange is the color of prison uniforms in the U.S.

Orange (saffron) is a sacred and auspicious color in Hinduism.

The middle traffic light is orange in France.

In the U.K., orange stands for the Northern Irish Protestants and has very strong religious and political significance.

Global Color data for consumer color symbolism

Designing with Orange

Orange is an excellent example of this design rule: There are no bad colors; only bad color combinations.

orange & blue
The complementary color scheme – orange and blue – is dynamic.


The triad color scheme – orange, green, and purple – is exceptional.

How Orange Affects Vision

Safety orange traffic cones and vest

“Safety orange” is used to set objects apart from their surroundings, particularly in complementary contrast to the azure color of the sky. It’s used for hunting and construction zone marking devices.

Myths about the Effects of Orange on the Body

Orange is used to increase immunity, to increase sexual potency, to help in all digestive ailments, chest and kidney diseases.

Tidbits – Points to Ponder

"Orange is red brought nearer to humanity by yellow." Wassily Kandinsky

Nothing rhymes with orange.


encyclopedia color design

Also ...
Explore the meanings of more colors!

Find some good color combinations for orange.
Basic Color Theory

Which do you prefer?  Pumpkin or persimmon orange?
The Magic & Mystery of Words


Psychology of Color Symbolism online course


Subscribe to the free Color Matters Newsletter

Color Matters is a registered trademark of J.L. Morton.
Graphics and Text: Copyright (c) 1995-2024, J.L.Morton, All rights reserved

copyscape seal blue 120x100