I'm trying to organize a list of colors for a puzzle game. I can find reliable lists (names and colors values) of the primary, secondary, and tertiary RGB colors - but I can't find any reliable list beyond this.

Color wheels either leave them out, or pile them in with millions of other colors and no names.

Is there any reliable source for a list of color considered "quaternary" and possibly even colors in layers beyond that?

  • What about html color names w3schools.com/html/html_colornames.asp
    – allcaps
    Oct 15, 2014 at 19:19
  • @allcaps I use the list but that isn't making clear which colors are quaternary versus higher, etc. I may just have to give up at this stage, I can't seem to easily find any groups after tertiary.
    – helion3
    Oct 15, 2014 at 20:28
  • But quaternary is simple color math. So you need to find the right names for the color values. Anyway, all of this doesn't matter according to this research paper on the subject: blog.xkcd.com/2010/05/03/color-survey-results
    – allcaps
    Oct 15, 2014 at 22:34

9 Answers 9


I used the list of RYB quaternary colours at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tertiary_color#Tertiary-_and_quaternary-color_terms to fill in some of the gaps between the CMY tertiary colours.

I've listed the CMY tertiary colours from that article and indented proposed names for the quaternary colours.

  • Red
    • Crimson (or Russet)
  • Rose
    • Aubergine
  • Magenta
    • Amethyst
  • Violet
    • Indigo
  • Blue
    • (Cerulean)
  • Azure
    • (Celeste)
  • Cyan
    • (Aquamarine)
  • Spring green
    • (Emerald)
  • Green
    • Apple green
  • Chartreuse
    • (Citron)
  • Yellow
    • Amber
  • Orange
    • Vermilion
  • Red

I got these names by translating the CMY colour names into RYB equivalents and then looking for the names of intermediate CMY colours. I used the following equivalencies

  • CMY - RYB - (CMY colours mixed)
  • Magenta - Purple (blue - red)
  • Rose - Magenta (red - magenta)
  • Violet - Violet (magenta - blue)
  • Cyan - Teal (blue - green)
  • Azure - Turquoise (blue - cyan)
  • Spring green - Viridian (cyan - green)

The CMY colour will be more saturated than the RYB equivalent.

Citron is a tertiary colour, a combination of green and orange, which lands between yellow and chartreuse on the colour wheel. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:RBG_color_wheel.svg) Likewise, russet (orange and RYB purple, or orange and CMY magenta), coincides with crimson, half-way between rose and red.

I couldn't get the quaternary colours from blue to green from that page, so the suggestions above are just for completeness.


My 2 cents.

1) There are no standard list of names of colors. The link allcaps provided in the comment is a funny explanation why. https://blog.xkcd.com/2010/05/03/color-survey-results/

2) If you want a "standard" list of RGB colors, one possible reference is the w3 list of extended color names: https://www.w3.org/TR/css3-color/#svg-color

3) The concept of tertiary and quaternary is only related of a painting process, where you needed a methodology to reconstruct a specific color in a progressive way.

In RGB mode you do not construct a color mixing equal parts of a primary color, and then mixing it with another part of a primary color etc. You just assign values, so the concept does not work here. You can not find such a list, because I doubt anyone really needs it or has made it. Probably it is a fun exercise.

4) But, based on a standard color name list like the one I provided, and making your own calculations you could measure the RGB values and choose what color name is approximate of the values. It needs some work but can be achieved in a couple of hours.


I made a list with alternate color names included. This is the first CMYK/RGB QUINARY-inclusion Color Wheel EVER! In some cases, the colors actually had no name, so I simply listed them with the names of their two nearest colors (example: Cyanish Capri). The RGB Color Values are restricted to the following values: 0, 32, 64, 96, 128, 159, 223 & 255. I used http://www.color-hex.com/color-names.html, http://chir.ag/projects/name-that-color/ & https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tertiary_color

  1. Red
  2. Scarlet
  3. Vermillion
  4. Safety Orange
  5. Orange
  6. Orange Peel
  7. Amber
  8. Golden Yellow
  9. Yellow
  10. Neon Yellow
  11. Lime
  12. Spring Bud
  13. Chartreuse
  14. Bright Green
  15. Harlequin
  16. Greenish Harlequin
  17. Green
  18. Free Speech Green
  19. Erin (Irish Green)
  20. Irish Spring Green
  21. Spring Green
  22. Spring Aquamarine
  23. Aquamarine (Medium Spring Green/Turquoise)
  24. Spring Cyan
  25. Cyan
  26. Cyanish Capri (Celestial Cyan)
  27. Capri (Celeste)
  28. Azurish Capri
  29. Azure
  30. Cerulean Azure
  31. Cerulean
  32. Bluish Cerulean
  33. Blue
  34. Bluish Ultramarine
  35. Ultramarine (Bright Indigo)
  36. Electric Indigo
  37. Violet
  38. Electric Purple
  39. Purple
  40. Psychedelic Purple
  41. Magenta
  42. Hot Magenta
  43. Cerise
  44. Hollywood Cerise
  45. Rose
  46. Razzmatazz
  47. Crimson
  48. Torch Red

Quinary Color Wheel


What lies beyond primary and secondary colors?

Tertiary colors are created by combining adjacent primary and secondary colors. For example with the traditional primary and secondary colors our tertiary colors would be vermilion (red + orange), amber (yellow + orange), chartreuse (yellow + green), teal (blue + green), violet (blue + purple), and magenta (red + purple). Note, this magenta is not quite the same as that found in the CMY color set.

The tertiary colors for the RGB and CMY sets are azure (cyan + blue), violet (blue + magenta), rose (magenta + red), orange (red + yellow), chartreuse (yellow + green), and spring green (green + cyan).

Another group of tertiary colors can be created by mixing secondary colors: the quaternary colors, the names for the twelve quaternary colors are more variable, if they exist at all, though indigo and scarlet are standard for blue–violet and red–vermilion.

From the mix of the previous colors we get quinary colors, which are, roughly, varying shades of gray, this is way there are no specific names beyond the tertiary colors. The more you mix the colors the harder it is for the human eye to detect those differences.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tertiary_color#Tertiary-_and_quaternary-color_terms https://uwaterloo.ca/stratford-campus/comment/reply/627


At https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tertiary_color#Tertiary-_and_quaternary-color_terms there's a column named "Quaternary CMY" that lists 24 hue names.

What no one seems to list however is names for values and saturations. A hue name combined with a value+saturation name gives the full HSV information and allows the color to be decoded.

https://colornamer2.netlify.com is a color namer based on this principle. In total, the "color name 1" method can generate 45 unique color names, while "color name 2" can generate 249 unique color names.

The graph of all color names generated by "color name 1" is:

enter image description here

I deliberately avoided using the term "light" (except for "Light Gray") as it might lead to confusion as "light green" could as well mean the Bright Green to distinguish it from "green" which sometimes means the Dark Green, or it could mean the Pale Green when thinking in HSL terms.

The graph of all color names generated by "color name 2" is:

enter image description here

I added the prefixes "Extra-" and "Semi-" (analogous to the font weights "Extralight", "Semilight", "Semibold", "Extrabold") to interpolate between #BLACK/Dark/Bright and Bright/Pale/#WHITE and similarly for the grays, and the remaining two are named "Faded" and "Weak" inspired by the 6×6×6 RGB colorcube naming system from http://www.visibone.com/color/poster4x.html .

(note: the number of saturations available for a specific brightness varies depending on the brightness)

Edit: Here's a saturation/value chart of colors being converted to color names and back to canonical colors, in "colorname1" and "colorname2":


Edit: Doubling the resolution of this color naming system is an interesting challenge. Someone else already named 48 hues (although the hue name "Bright Green" would be confusing as Bright is already used as a value/saturation name and Bright Green is already a named color of the system), however, there's also 26 more value/saturation combinations to name.

Edit: Here is the current list of trusted names:


How "official" do the colour names need to be exactly?

The first thing I thought of was looking at colour names given to paint by companies such as Dulux they use names for a whole range of shades and tones.

enter image description here

  • The names aren't terribly important, but if there's a standard I want to follow it. I'm mostly concerned about finding a list of colors considered at that level. Quite surprised how hard it seems. I've found a few examples, but they have different RGB values.
    – helion3
    Oct 15, 2014 at 18:29

This is a mixture of common names and my own inventions (in cases where there are no common names).

Quaternaries in roman, tertiaries in italics, secondaries in bold, primaries in both


  1. Red - #ff0000
  2. Vermilion - #ff4000


  1. Orange - #ff8000
  2. Amber - #ffc000


  1. Yellow - #ffff00
  2. Neon Yellow - #c0ff00


  1. Chartreuse - #80ff00
  2. Bright Green - #40ff00
  3. Green - #00ff00
  4. Irish Green - #00ff40
  5. Spring Green - #00ff80


  1. Turquoise - #00ffc0
  2. Cyan - #00ffff
  3. Sky Blue - #00c0ff


  1. Azure - #0080ff
  2. Cerulean - #0040ff
  3. Blue - #0000ff
  4. Indigo - #4000ff


  1. Violet - #8000ff
  2. Purple - #c000ff
  3. Fuchsia - #ff00ff


  1. Magenta - #ff00c0
  2. Rose - #ff0080
  3. Crimson - #ff0040

Primaries in both, Secondaries in bold, Teritaries in italics, Quaternaries in 'apostrophes' and Quinaries in {curly brakets}


I have tried to establish Quaternary Hues with high confidence. Posted with my process and rationale.

  • Red (primary)
  • Coral
  • Orange (tertiary)
  • Amber
  • Yellow (secondary)
  • Lime
  • Chartreuse (tertiary)
  • Harlequin
  • Green (primary)
  • Erin
  • Spring Green (tertiary)
  • Aquamarine
  • Cyan (secondary)
  • Capri
  • Azure (tertiary)
  • Royal Blue
  • Blue (primary)
  • Ultramarine
  • Violet (tertiary)
  • Purple
  • Magenta (secondary)
  • Byzantium
  • Rose (tertiary)
  • Crimson

Quaternary Hues Hex Palette

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