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Making this page[edit]

I don't expect that any page will ever actually link here, but to facilitate a reader's search for this phrase, I believe this needs to exist. Elf | Talk 18:45, 22 Mar 2004 (UTC)

It'd function happily as a redirect. Jimp 05:42, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

Hmmm, Yes, but what about...[edit]

Well I cannot remember the source but with reagards to to describing the visible spectrum, I had heard, or read that Sir Isaac Newton originally named only 5 colors to describe what he saw, but because music, was being analyzed and quantified, etc. and the science of music was deciding that 7 was the numbert of tones that should be ordered (do, rea, mi, fa, so, la, ti, do) Sir Isaac thought it best to yank 2 more colors out to make it 7 to match other systems being ordered at that time. This makes a great deal of sense when you view your first sunlight spectrum. That Blue, Indigo, Violet mush at the end! But if Cyan was not an easily recognizable hue...what was he to do? No this is not a joke.--Dkrolls 14:32, 15 May 2006 (UTC)Elf | Talk 18:45, 22 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Wihtout having seen this comment, I added a mention of this a couple of weeks later (in May). I got it from the visible spectrum Wiki article. I will endeavor soon to add the references that are there. It's always been a pet peeve of mine that indigo really doesn't belong there (and evidently Isaac Asimov had said the same thing), but it wasn't until reading the Wiki articles that it sunk in just how arbitrary it all was. danwWiki 19:10, 25 September 2006 (UTC)
There is some evidence that Newton's use of the terms blue and indigo map to the modern hues turquoise/cyan and blue respectively. This seems credible as many people would find it easier to accept a seventh hue between green and blue rather than between blue and violet. I'm trying to dig out the reference for this. Neil Dodgson 13:29, 21 February 2007 (UTC)


I feel Gamboge is an important addition to this article, appearing between Red and Orange. This is how I learned this mnemonic device when I was a lad. Indigo and Violet are quite similar, so other close colors may also be included.

A google search for "roy g biv" returns about 126,000 hits. Googling for "rgoy g biv" returns zero. Provide a cite that this "rgoy g biv" exists beyond a handful of people, and I won't revert it a third time. Travisl 21:43, 28 July 2006 (UTC)
Oh, and that's not the name of the song on the album, nor is "Great" mentioned in Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York. Travisl 21:45, 28 July 2006 (UTC)

Undelete Roy G. Biv Adventures[edit]

Roy G. Biv Adventures (the comic) is popular among college and high school students from the Connecticut area. It hasn't garnered much attention otherwise, since it's passed around in minicomic form in small circles. It is relevant and should be reincluded in the article. 18:22, 2 August 2006

If it "hasn't garnered much attention" other than a small circle of people in Connecticut, is it notable enough to be part of a discussion of the color spectrum? I don't think it's relevant to the topic. If it's significantly notable, please create Roy G. Biv Adventures; perhaps a disambiguation link on Roy G. Biv would be appropriate then. I have my doubts about the comic's notability, though, as the only reference I'm finding to it is the page linked earlier, and a search for the artist's name plus "biv" returns only that same page -- and that page is chock full of google ads and pop-under windows. -- Travisl 06:22, 3 August 2006 (UTC)
Is it really less important than a single song from the Boards of Canada? Either remove that as well or reinclude Roy G. Biv Adventures. Just because it doesn't have a prescense on the internet doesn't mean it isn't incredibly popular. 05:35, 3 August 2006
If Roy G. Biv Adventures or Jason Bitterman was notable enough to have an article, it would be important enough. Boards of Canada are apparently more important -- their article exists (although I have no idea as to their true notability).
(Adding missing signatures from this thread, too) Travisl 15:39, 8 August 2006 (UTC)

Popular (?) Mnemonics[edit]

I'm calling BS on the "Virgins In Bed Get Your Organs Red." mnemonic. It may be a valid mnemonic, but it has ONE hit on Google other than this page, and is immature to boot.

A lot of people are clearly familiar with the "Roy G. Biv" (and variants) mnemonic and also "Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain" (Google has about 1000 hits). I'm not sure I believe those other mnemonics though. Good books? Rowntrees? All ingenious, but can anyone supply a reference? "Ring Out Your Granny's Boots In Vinegar" is not event spelled correctly ("Wring", which destroys the mnemonic), unless that is an intentionally humorous point of course. I'll delete these unless someone stands up for them or can supply references. Mooncow 18:46, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

I agree; if we don't find a source, take them out. "Rowntrees of York" is a famous store, so it seems likely that its initials ROY would have been adopted this way, but I don't see a source. Dicklyon 21:36, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
Done. I looked for a substantiating source and didn't spot one. The ones I removed are shown below. Mooncow 00:44, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
  * "Ring Out Your Great Bells In Victory"
  * "Read Out Your Good Book In Verse" (referring to the Bible)
  * "Rowntrees Of York Gave Best In Value" (referring to the confectionery firm Rowntrees)
  * "Ring Out Your Granny's Boots In Vinegar"
  * "Rip Off Your Green Bra IVy"  —Preceding 

unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:44, 21 November 2007 (UTC)

I was actually taught "Roll Over You Great Big Ignorant Virgin" at school (aged 12), but teacher did say we should use "Richard of York Gained Battles In Vain" if anyone asked us in an exam ! It gets 0 Google hits, though ! -- (talk) 14:00, 17 March 2008 (UTC)

Viagra in Bulk Gives You Over Reaction

haha. just saying. one of my classmates "coined" it. DanielTAR (talk) 08:41, 26 October 2008 (UTC)

Read Out Your Good Book In Verse was a mnemonic familiar to Isaac Asimov. It was the example that he gave in his essay of the same name from the May 1982 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (collected in X Stands for Unknown, 1984 from Doubleday). I don't know the ultimate source, but from his statement it seems to have had currency in the 1930's at least. Khajidha (talk) 02:19, 23 February 2009 (UTC)

Proposed rewrite[edit]

I was astounded to find this article on Wikipedia, when searching for the colours of the rainbow. The link ROYGBIV redirects here, a page which is totally slanted to a US-centric mnemonic for remembering the order of the colours. I have not ever heard of "Roy G. Biv" as a way of remembering this list, and nor has anyone I've asked. I took a survey of 120 of my students and not a single one had heard of this. However it is listed as a "traditional" mnemonic, without stating any particular country. I would suggest this is only traditional in Northern America. Coming from the UK, everyone I know is familiar with the Richard of York... version.

However, the article - after mentioning Roy G. Biv as the foremost method of remembering the sequence - goes on to then describe the history/reasoning of how the colours came to be listed.

Then follows another listing of methods of remembering the sequence.

I think the article should be re-written to be titled "Colours of the Rainbow" (with or without the 'u' if you prefer!). Then, the history part should serve as the intro, with methods of remembering it following.

Also, the Acorn Electron game mentioned in the Cultural References section does not reference the subject of this article but instead just has the first letters of the colours in order - the password is not "Roy G. Biv" it's ROYGBIV. Howie 00:24, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

Good to know. I've flagged it. I'm not sure that "Colors of the rainbow" would be an appropriate title, though. I'm US-centric myself, but perhaps "Color spectrum mnemonics" would be better? Travisl (talk) 01:07, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

ROY G BV?[edit]

Supposedly they took Indigo out? (talk) 04:45, 21 June 2009 (UTC)

Yes, that's Roy G. Biv without an eye. -- (talk) 21:25, 11 November 2010 (UTC)
Indigo was a more common term when more people were dyeing cloth, and had to deal with indigo dye. That is a much less common activity due to the popularity of mass-produced cloth and clothing. Excuse me, I need to get fresh onions for my belt. -- SEWilco (talk) 20:29, 22 March 2012 (UTC)

Number of discrete bands[edit]

UVA Astronomer, your statement [1] "Although the spectrum is actually a continuum, the rainbow is perceived by the human eye (and the eyes of many other mammals) as discrete bands, due to the finite number of photoreceptor cell types in the eye" is not entirely clear. Please specify the number of discrete bands and the relation between that number and the 3 types of cones in the retina. And how did you find out that many mammals perceive discrete bands? Ceinturion (talk) 10:08, 10 May 2010 (UTC)

I noticed you rephrased it today into "the distinct bands are an artifact of human colour vision".[2] I agree that's better. Ceinturion (talk) 08:30, 17 May 2010 (UTC)

Turquoise confusion[edit]

I removed the sentence "There is some evidence in [Newton's] notebooks that his indigo is equivalent to a modern blue (with his blue matching the modern turquoise).[citation needed]", which was added 2 days ago (1), because it is a confusing sentence. It seems to imply that a statement by Newton that the sky is blue should be translated as the sky is turquoise. Furthermore it is confusing to explicitly claim that there is some evidence, and at the same time request readers to provide references for that claim. Elevant (talk) 08:38, 11 August 2010 (UTC)

What does "Roy G. Biv." actually mean?[edit]

"Richard of York gave battle in vain" is a proper sentence with a clear meaning. "Roy G. Biv." (which I had never heard of until I was reading Indigo) just looks like a random pileup of letters. Does it actually mean or refer to anything? (One would assume it would have to to be a useful mnemonic). Wardog (talk) 13:57, 11 September 2011 (UTC)

I think it is construed as a person's name - it's memorable enough. I came up with the same mnemonic myself as a child (I was a keen mnemonicist) and this is the first time I've seen it in 'print' in 30 or 40 years - if I devised it then I can imagine many others having done the same - it emerges naturally from writing down the initial letters of the seven conventional colours in order. cheers Geopersona (talk) 01:07, 30 October 2011 (UTC)
This article started under the title ROYGBIV (introduction: ROYGBIV, pronounced like the name "Roy G. Biv", is a popular mnemonic device ...). In 2006 it was moved to the title ROY G. BIV (introduction: Roy G. Biv is a popular mnemonic device ...) by Neutrality (talk). [3] Let's ask Neutrality, on his Talk page, why he moved it. May be the preference depends on the country? Ceinturion (talk) 07:56, 30 October 2011 (UTC)
According to this webpage "Roy G. Biv" is common in the US: British schoolchildren learn the order of the colours in the rainbow with the mnemonic: "Richard of York gained battles in vain"... Since this is a reference to English history, it can't work in the United States where the same information on colour order is remembered from the fictional name "Roy G. Biv". The mnemonics wiki adds: Why is "Roy G. Biv" easy to remember? ... One reason for the effectiveness of seemingly arbitrary mnemonics is the grouping of information provided by the mnemonic. .. the name "Roy G. Biv" groups seven colors into two short names and an initial.
Neutrality replied to me that he doesn't quite remember why he changed the title, as it was five years ago, but he has no objection to moving it back. Ceinturion (talk) 09:53, 30 October 2011 (UTC)
You're right, the name-like variation was presented but its composition was not explained. Sentence added, with link to common name "Roy". SEWilco (talk) 20:24, 22 March 2012 (UTC)

Richard of York mnemonic - usage[edit]

Is there an earliest reference to this English historical mnemonic? I recall it being used at school (and in secondary school science textbooks) in the early 1970s, so it must have been in use for at least a generation - was it used in the 19th century?Cloptonson (talk) 14:58, 8 November 2014 (UTC)

"Richard Of York Gained Battles In Vain" doesn't seem to be as old as roygbiv and vibgyor. Ngram viewer reports as earliest references:
  • "Richard Of York Gained Battles In Vain": 1964. "Some of us will recall a mnemonic of school days based on the first letter of these colours, i.e. Richard Of York Gained Battles In Vain" [4]
  • Roygbiv: 1891. The colours of the rainbow I remember by artificial memory by the initial letters of the French expression for Rugby, say "Roygbiv" [5]
  • Vibgyor: 1743. 'The word vibgyor teaches us to remember the order of the seven original colours as they appear by the sun-beams cast through a prism on a white Paper, or formed by the sun in a rainbow, according to the different refrangibility of the rays.' Isaac Watts, Improvement of the Mind.[6] Ceinturion (talk) 02:20, 9 November 2014 (UTC)


I added a citation needed tag, but, does anyone know in which work Aristotle mentioned a scale of seven colors? I don't doubt the claim, but I'm kind of interested on reading what Aristotle said exactly. (talk) 18:27, 22 June 2017 (UTC)