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The conventional gradient colors of the rainbow symbol

ROYGBIV or Roy G. Biv is an acronym for the sequence of hues commonly described as making up a rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.


Natural rainbows show a continuum of colors. The photo shows a double rainbow in Alaska.
Newton's color wheel that introduced indigo as a basic color. The uneven color division along the color circle correlates with the intervals of the musical major scale. Illustration from Newton's Opticks, Fourth Edition, 1730.
Sir Isaac Newton's observation of prismatic colors. Comparing this to a color image of the visible light spectrum shows that Newton's "blue" corresponds to cyan, while Newton's "indigo" corresponds to blue. For more on this, see Indigo.

In Classical Antiquity, Aristotle claimed there was a scale of seven basic colors.[1] In the Renaissance, several artists tried to establish a new sequence of up to seven primary colors from which all other colors could be mixed. In line with this artistic tradition, Sir Isaac Newton divided his color circle, which he constructed to explain additive color mixing, into seven colors.[2] His color sequence including the tertiary color indigo is kept alive today by the Roy G. Biv mnemonic. Originally he used only five colors, but later he added orange and indigo to match the number of musical notes in the major scale.[3][4]

The Munsell color system, the first formal color notation system (1905), names only five "principal hues": red, yellow, green, blue, and purple.[5]

Another traditional mnemonic device has been to turn the initial letters of seven spectral colors into a sentence. In Britain the most common is "Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain." The mnemonic is said to refer to the defeat and death of Richard, Duke of York at the Battle of Wakefield in 1460.[6]

In popular culture[edit]


  1. ^ MacAdam, David L. (1970). Sources of Color Science (from Metereologica III.2.4). Mit Press. p. 9. ISBN 0262130610. OL 4574886M. white, yellow, red, green, blue, purple and black
  2. ^ Newton, Isaac (1704). Opticks.
  3. ^ "SHiPS Resource Center || Newton's Colors". Archived from the original on 2014-09-29. Retrieved 2014-05-24.
  4. ^ Hutchison, Niels (2004). "Music For Measure: On the 300th Anniversary of Newton's Opticks". Color Music. Archived from the original on 2017-01-18.
  5. ^ Cleland, T. M. "The Munsell Color System - A Practical Description With Suggestions for Its Use". Retrieved 3 August 2020.
  6. ^ Surdhar, Christina (2 September 2013). Bloody British History: York. History Press. p. 56. ISBN 9780750951593. Retrieved 29 December 2017.
  7. ^ "Boards Of Canada – Boc Maxima". Discogs. Retrieved 2019-08-15.
  8. ^ "Boards Of Canada – Music Has The Right To Children". Discogs. Retrieved 2019-08-15.
  9. ^ Bookish, Simon. "Richard of York". Bandcamp. Retrieved November 20, 2018.
  10. ^ "PUBLIC SERVICE BROADCASTING - ROYGBIV". YouTube. Archived from the original on 1 April 2016. Retrieved 2 August 2017.

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