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 mixture of red and green light. On a colour wheel based on traditional colour theory (RYB), the complementary colour to blue is considered to be orange (based on the Munsell colour wheel). The English language commonly uses "blue" to refer to any colour from navy blue to cyan. The word itself is derived from the Old French word bleu.
Etymology and definitions
The modern English word blue comes from Middle English bleu or blewe, from Old French bleu, bleve, blöe, a word of Germanic origin (Frankish or possibly Old High German blāo, "blue"). Bleu replaced Old English blāw "blue" and blǣwen "light blue". The root of all these variations is Proto-Germanic blǣwaz, from Proto-Indo-European *bhlāw-, *bhlēw- "light-coloured, yellow, grey, blue", from *bhel- "to shine, be light or bright", also the root of Old Norse blār and the modern Icelandic blár, and the Scandinavian word blå, which can also refer to other non blue colours. A Scots and Scottish English word for "blue-grey" is blae, from the Middle English bla ("dark blue", from Old Norse blār). Also related is the English word blee meaning "colour, complexion". Ancient Greek lacked a word for blue and Homer called the colour of the sea "wine dark", except that the word kyanos (cyan) was used for dark blue enamel. As a curiosity, blue is thought to be cognate with blond, blank and black through the Germanic word. Through a Proto-Indo-European root, it is also linked with Latin flavus ("yellow"; see flavescent and flavine), with Greek phalos (white), French blanc (white, blank) (borrowed from Old Frankish), and with Russian белый, belyi ("white," see beluga), and Welsh blawr (grey) all of which derive (according to the American Heritage Dictionary) from the Proto-Indo-European root *bhel- meaning "to shine, flash or burn", (more specifically the word bhle-was, which meant light coloured, blue, blond, or yellow), whence came the names of various bright colours, and that of colour black from a derivation meaning "burnt" (other words derived from the root *bhel- include bleach, bleak, blind, blink, blank, blush, blaze, flame, fulminate, flagrant and phlegm).
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