Olive (color)

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Short description: Dark yellowish green color
About these coordinates     Color coordinates
Hex triplet#808000
SourceX11 color names
ISCC–NBS descriptorLight olive
Green olives

Olive is a dark yellowish-green color,[1] like that of unripe or green olives.

As a color word in the English language, it appears in late Middle English.



About these coordinates     Color coordinates
Hex triplet#9AB973
Source[1]/Maerz & Paul[2]
ISCC–NBS descriptorModerate yellow green

Olivine is the typical color of the mineral olivine.

Olivine crystals
Olivine crystals

The first recorded use of olivine as a color name in English was in 1912.[3]

Olive drab

Olive Drab
About these coordinates     Color coordinates
Hex triplet#6B8E23
SourceX11 color names
ISCC–NBS descriptorStrong yellow green
Olive drab camouflage
About these coordinates     Color coordinates
Hex triplet#544F3D
SourceFederal Standard 595 33070
ISCC–NBS descriptorGrayish olive

Olive drab is variously described as a "dull olive-green colour" (Oxford English Dictionary);[4] "a shade of greenish-brown" (Webster's New World Dictionary);[5] "a dark gray-green" (MacMillan English dictionary); "a grayish olive to dark olive brown or olive gray" (American Heritage Dictionary);[6] or "A dull but fairly strong gray-green color" (Collins English Dictionary). It is widely used as a camouflage color for uniforms and equipment in the armed forces.

The first recorded use of olive drab as a color name in English was in 1892.[7] Drab is an older color name, from the middle of the 16th century. It refers to a dull light brown color, the color of cloth made from undyed homespun wool. It took its name from the old French word for cloth, drap.[4]

There are many shades and variations of olive drab. Various shades were used on United States Army uniforms in World War II. The shade used for enlisted soldier's uniforms at the beginning of the war was officially called Olive Drab #33 (OD33), while officer's uniforms used the much darker Olive Drab #51 (OD51). Field equipment was in Olive Drab #3 (OD3), a very light, almost khaki shade. In 1943 new field uniforms and equipment were produced in the darker Olive Drab #7 (OD7). This was in turn replaced by the slightly grayer Olive Green 107 (OG-107) in 1952,[8] which continued as the color of combat uniforms through the Vietnam War until the adoption in 1981 of the four-color-camouflage-patterned M81 Battle Dress Uniform, which retained olive drab as one of the color swatches in the pattern. The shade used for painting vehicles is defined by Federal Standard 595 in the United States.[9]

As a solid color, it is not as effective for camouflage as multi-color patterns, though it is still used by the U.S. military to color webbing and accessories. The armies of Israel, India, Cuba, and Venezuela wear solid-color olive drab uniforms.

In the American novel A Separate Peace, Finny says to Gene, "...and in these times of war, we all see olive drab, and we all know it is the patriotic color. All others aren't about the war; they aren't patriotic."

Pantone 448 C, "the ugliest color in the world" commonly used in plain tobacco packaging, was initially described as a shade of olive green.[10]

Black olive

An example of black olives
Black olive
About these coordinates     Color coordinates
Hex triplet#3B3C36
SourceRAL / ColorsData[11]
ISCC–NBS descriptorDark grayish olive green

Black olive is a color in the RAL color matching system. It is designated as RAL 6015.

The color "black olive" is a representation of the color of black olives.

Olive in culture

  • The term "olive-skinned" is sometimes used to denote shades of medium-toned skin that is darker than the average color for White people, especially in connection with a Mediterranean ethnicity.

See also

  • List of colors
  • Khaki, another color common in military uniforms


  1. "Olive – Definition of olive by Merriam-Webster". merriam-webster.com. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/olive. 
  2. The color displayed in the color box above matches the color called olivine in the 1930 book by Maerz and Paul A Dictionary of Color New York: 1930 McGraw-Hill; the color olivine is displayed on page 59, Plate 18, Color Sample C6.
  3. Maerz and Paul A Dictionary of Color New York: 1930—McGraw-Hill Page 200; Color Sample of Olivine: Page 59, Plate 18, Color Sample C6
  4. 4.0 4.1 Oxford English Dictionary, 5th Edition, 1982
  5. Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language
  6. American Heritage Dictionary of the American Language, 4th edition.
  7. Maerz and Paul A Dictionary of Color New York: 1930 McGraw-Hill Page 200; Color Sample of Olive Drab: Page 53 Plate 15 Color Sample J5
  8. "Soldier'S Barracks Bag". Olive-drab.com. 2008-05-22. http://www.olive-drab.com/od_soldiers_gear_barracks_bag.php. 
  9. "What Does Olive Drab Mean?". Olive-drab.com. 2008-05-22. http://www.olive-drab.com/od_whatisod.php3. 
  10. "Does this colour turn you off?". 16 August 2012. https://www.smh.com.au/national/does-this-colour-turn-you-off-20120816-24bf4.html. 
  11. "Black olive / #3B3C36 Hex Color Code". https://www.colorsdata.com/color/3b3c36.