What does the lilac color mean?

Lilac is one of the most difficult colors to distinguish. We show you its meaning, curiosities and characteristics.

Last update: December 19, 2021

Lilac is a color that is often confused or associated with violet, misty blue, purple, lavender, or dark mauve. It is a color that refers to the homonymous flower. The word lilac it’s a loan from the french lilacs, taken from the Arabic lilak and this in turn from the Persian lilag. This Persian word refers to a bluish tone and comes from Sanskrit nilah (dark blue). We teach you the meaning of the lilac color.

In terms of color theory, lilac is a shade corresponding to one of the many shades of purple. It also has a variety of tones, which are accompanied by an adjective to categorize them: French lilac, light lilac, lavender lilac and others. Although it is a color that refers to the common lilac flower, we also find the color in thistles, in the Mauve alcea and in saffron.

Characteristics of the lilac color

Lilac is a vibrant color that is often associated with positive feelings. It has its origin in the flower that bears the same name.

Lilac is also often referred to as pale violet, and refers directly to the color tones of most of the flowers of the species Syringa vulgaris. This belongs to the olive family and is native to the Balkan region of Europe. It is an ornamental flower that we find in gardens and parks around the world.



The plant was first described, at least formally, in 1753 by Carl Linnaeus. The flower was used in Ottoman gardens, from these they passed to the gardens of Europe in the 16th century. They were not introduced into the American hills until the middle of the 18th century. From this moment it is that the term lilac is becoming popularly used to refer to color. We leave you with some curiosities:

  • During Victorian times it was not uncommon for widows to wear lilac as a reminder of past love.
  • Fear of various shades of violet and purple (including lilac) is known as porphyrophobia.
  • A lilac-like hue is obtained naturally from the glands of the murex sea snail. It was used as a dye or colorant.
  • Considering the previous data, purple, purple and violet (also lilac tones) were considered a color of the upper classes (the poor did not dye their clothes).
  • At a certain point in its maturation, the cherry blossom takes on a shade close to lilac. It is the most famous flower in Japan.
  • It is one of the most difficult colors for the human eye to distinguish. This is why the classification of lilac, mauve, purple, violet and others is usually very subjective..
  • There is an African bird known as lilac chest roller. We find it in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.
  • The French lilac shade has been used since the early 19th century in interior decoration.
  • A shade similar to lilac is used to commemorate epilepsy patients. On March 26 people use it to raise awareness.
  • The color of Mace Windu’s saber, from Star wars, it is similar to lilac. This was an explicit request from Samuel Jackson to play the role.
  • Although for some it is closer to purple than dark lilac, the only nation in the world with this color on its flag is Dominica.
  • Some albino people can develop shades of color in their eyes that resemble lilac in certain contexts (makeup, lighting, and so on). Elizabeth Taylor was famous for generating a similar effect on camera.
  • In the chapter “Nosedive” of the third season of Black mirror you can see different shades of violets, purple and lilac.
  • A shade very similar to lilac has been raised as a symbol of the trans community.

It is difficult to separate the lilac from its brother colors. Many people have difficulty distinguishing it, especially in its lighter tones (it is confused with blue) and dark (it is confused with violet). Even so, it is a separate color.

Meaning of lilac color in psychology

According to some experts, color can have an effect on your behavior, decisions, and thoughts. This is conditioned by social variables such as age, gender, beliefs and receptivity to environmental stimuli. The ability to differentiate colors also comes into play, as we have discussed previously.



Indeed, the meaning of lilac may overlap with that of purple, violet, lavender, and so on. From the social point of view, women are conditioned to be able to distinguish differences between spectra of colors and tones (also to be able to name them). This would make them more receptive to empathizing with color. Let’s see other curiosities:

  • The lighter colors of lilac are perceived as purity, innocence and candor. This is why it is frequently used at weddings.
  • Shades closer to blue can convey feelings of happiness and tranquility.
  • The lilac with a magenta tone is used in the marketing as a symbol of love and passion (especially associated with the first experiences).
  • The evidence indicates that publications with a violet color (and its different shades such as lilac) tend to have a greater receptivity among Instagram users.
  • The lighter tones are perceived as a cold color, which in most people generates feelings of calm and peace.
  • In some aromatherapy sessions, lilacs are used to relieve stress and treat depression.

Despite not being a color that implies intense emotions or abruptly modifies your mood, the meaning of lilac never goes unnoticed. It has been a traditionally feminine color, linked to love and delicacy.

Meaning of lilac color in different cultures

Lilac is usually synonymous with wisdom, happiness and passion. For this reason it is widely used in fashion and decoration.

Although its participation in cultures around the world is not as impressive (as intense violet or purple is), we highlight some cultural curiosities of this color:

  • Thomas Jefferson and George Washington were fond of lilacs. They had several of them in their gardens.
  • Impressionist painters such as Van Gogh and Claude Monet painted lilac a couple of times.
  • In many countries, lilac is the official color of the eighth wedding anniversary.
  • Walt Whitman used lilacs as a symbol of life in several of his poems.
  • In some versions of the Greek myth between Syringa and Pan, the nymph ends up as a lilac bush.
  • In Japan the color symbolizes nobility and strength.

With this last we say goodbye to our entry on the meaning of lilac color. We hope that the information presented has helped you to recognize the importance of color, as well as to appreciate it differently the next time you interact with it.

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