AskDefine | Define magenta

Dictionary Definition

magenta adj : deep purplish red


1 a dark purple-red; the dye was discovered in 1859, the year of the battle of Magenta [syn: fuchsia]
2 a battle in 1859 in which the French and Sardinian forces under Napoleon III defeated the Austrians under Francis Joseph I [syn: Battle of Magenta]

User Contributed Dictionary

See also: Magenta



Named in 1859 by Edward Chambers Nicholson after the Battle of Magenta, fought earlier that year.


  • a GenAm /məˈʤɛntə/, /m@"dZEnt@/
  • Hyphenation: ma·gen·ta


  1. a light purple, purplish-red, or pinkish purple colour obtained by mixing red and blue light
    magenta colour:   





  1. having the colour of fuchsia








Extensive Definition

this the color Magenta is a purplish red color evoked by lights with less power in yellowish-green wavelengths than in blue and red wavelengths (complements of magenta have wavelength 500–530 nm). In light experiments, magenta can be produced by removing the lime-green wavelengths from white light. It is an extra-spectral color, meaning it cannot be generated by a single wavelength of light, being a mixture of red and blue wavelengths. The name magenta comes from the dye magenta, commonly called fuchsine, discovered shortly after the 1859 Battle of Magenta near Magenta, Italy.
In the Munsell color system, magenta is called red-purple. In the CMYK color model used in printing, it is one of the primary colors of ink. In the RGB color model, the secondary color created by mixing the red and blue primaries is called magenta or fuchsia, though this color differs in hue from printer’s magenta.

Historical development of magenta

Rich magenta (original variation) (1860)

Before printer's magenta was invented in the 1890s for CMYK printing, and electric magenta was invented in the 1980s for computer displays, these two artificially engineered colors were preceded by the color displayed at right, which is the color originally called magenta made from coal tar dyes in the year 1859. Besides being called original magenta, it is also called rich magenta to distinguish it from the colors electric magenta and printer's magenta shown below.
This color corresponds to the Prismacolor colored pencil magenta.

Process magenta (pigment magenta; printer's magenta) (1890s)

In color printing, the color called process magenta, or pigment magenta, or printer's magenta is one of the three primary pigment colors which, along with yellow and cyan, constitute the three subtractive primary colors of pigment. (The secondary colors of pigment are blue, green, and red.) As such, the hue magenta, is the complement of green: magenta pigments absorb green light; thus magenta and green are opposite colors.
The CMYK printing process was invented in the 1890s, when newspapers began to publish color comic strips.
Process magenta is not an RGB color, and there is no fixed conversion from CMYK primaries to RGB. Different formulations are used for printer's ink, so there can be variations in the printed color that is pure magenta ink. A typical formulation of process magenta is shown in the color box at right. The source of the color shown at right is the color magenta that is shown in the diagram located at the bottom of the following website offering tintbooks for CMYK printing: A printer’s magenta is usually out of gamut on a computer display, so the color at right is only an approximation.
In Prismacolor colored pencils, this color (Prismacolor PC 994) is called process red (it would have been more accurate to call it process magenta). The Prismacolor colored pencil process red color is not quite as saturated as the color process magenta shown above.

Electric magenta (additive secondary magenta) (web color fuchsia) (1990s)

Electric magenta, shown at the right, is one of the three secondary colors in the RGB color model. For computer color rendition, that specific hue of magenta composed of equal parts of red and blue light was termed the web color fuchsia and was assigned as an alias for the RGB code of magenta on a list of standardized web colors. "Electric" magenta and fuchsia are exactly the same color. Sometimes electric magenta is called electronic magenta.
The color fuchsia is named after the color of the flowers of the Fuchsia plant, named after Leonhart Fuchs, although most of the flowers of the plant are not quite so bright.

Electric magenta vs. process magenta

Note that while both of these colors are called magenta they are actually substantially different from one another. Process magenta (the color used for magenta printing ink--also called printer's or pigment magenta) is much less vivid than the color electric magenta achievable on a computer screen--indeed, CMYK printing technology cannot accurately reproduce pure magenta as described above as electric magenta (1/2 100% blue light + 1/2 100% red light=magenta) on paper. To see the difference between electric magenta and printer's magenta, compare the two magentas (additive and subtractive) in the two charts in the Primary colors article.
When electric magenta is reproduced on paper, it is called fuchsia and it is physically impossible for it to appear on paper as vivid as on a computer screen. In order to reproduce it, a small amount of cyan printer's ink must be added to printer's magenta to make fuchsia, and therefore fuchsia is not a primary color of pigment--it is the color of printer's magenta that is one of the primary colors of pigment (along with cyan and yellow).
The name fuchsia was chosen as the alias for electric magenta because that is the color name for the color that in printed reproduction is its equivalent.
Since prior to the introduction of personal computers magenta was synonymous with printer's magenta, colored pencils and crayons called "magenta" are usually colored the color of process magenta (printer's magenta) shown above.

Magenta on the color wheel

If the visible spectrum is wrapped to form a color wheel, magenta (additive secondary) appears midway between red and blue:

Magenta in human culture


  • Since the mid 1960s, water based fluorescent magenta paint has been available to paint psychedelic black light paintings. (Fluorescent magenta is one of the seven main colors used, in addition to fluorescent orange, fluorescent red, fluorescent cerise, fluorescent chartreuse yellow, fluorescent blue, and fluorescent green.)
  • By the early 1960s, vivid colors in the magenta range became available, and as a result many become aware that magenta, yellow, and cyan make better primary pigments than red, blue, and yellow.



  • There is a song called Maria Magenta on the 1973 album Cosmic Wheels by Donovan.
  • There is a song called Magenta on the 1998 album Blue Wonder Power Milk by Hooverphonic.
  • There is an album by Willy De Ville called Return to Magenta.
  • There is a song called Magenta by Arno Cost & Arias


  • To psychics who claim to be able to observe the aura with their third eye, someone who has a magenta aura is usually described as being artistic and creative. It is reported that typical occupations for someone with a magenta aura would be such professions as artist, art dealer, actor, author, costume designer, or set designer.


  • The color Magenta is used to symbolize anti-racism by the Amsterdam-based anti-racism Magenta Foundation.


See also

magenta in Afrikaans: Magenta (kleur)
magenta in Belarusian: Маджэнта
magenta in Bulgarian: Маджента (цвят)
magenta in Catalan: Magenta
magenta in Czech: Purpurová
magenta in German: Magenta (Farbe)
magenta in Spanish: Magenta
magenta in Basque: Magenta
magenta in French: Magenta (couleur)
magenta in Galician: Maxenta
magenta in Korean: 자청색
magenta in Croatian: Magenta
magenta in Indonesian: Magenta
magenta in Italian: Magenta (colore)
magenta in Hebrew: מג'נטה
magenta in Luxembourgish: Magenta
magenta in Dutch: Magenta (kleur)
magenta in Japanese: マゼンタ
magenta in Norwegian: Magenta
magenta in Polish: Magenta (barwa)
magenta in Portuguese: Magenta
magenta in Romanian: Magenta
magenta in Russian: Маджента
magenta in Simple English: Magenta
magenta in Serbo-Croatian: Magenta
magenta in Finnish: Magenta
magenta in Swedish: Magenta
magenta in Turkish: Galibarda
magenta in Chinese: 品紅色

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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