Is Black A Color?

By Antonia Čirjak on January 31 2020 in Did You Know

Black is the darkest color, and something we call an achromatic color, meaning it has no hue.
Black is the darkest color, and something we call an achromatic color, meaning it has no hue.

Depending on who you ask, you will get a different answer to the question "Is black a color?". If you ask a scientist, the answer will probably be no, since it will be based in physics. On the other hand, an artist or a chemist will answer yes, saying that black is indeed a color. We can define black as a result of the complete omission of light.

It is the darkest color, and something we call an achromatic color, meaning it has no hue. The usage of black as a color dates back to cave paintings in the stone age. It is the most used color for printing various documents, books, and newspapers, the reason being its contrast with the color white, which makes it easier to read.

Can We Give A Definitive Answer?

There will always be some disagreement on whether black is a color. The easiest way to approach this question is through the usage of common speech. From that perspective, black is indeed considered a color. In common speech, while describing the color of something, you can say that it's black. Since this is the most common usage, we can indeed conclude that black is a color.

However, when speaking in more technical terms from a scientific perspective, black is defined simply as a lack of light. Since it's impossible to see anything without light, we can't describe black as a color. According to this approach, what we perceive as black is not the actual black, but just a very dark hue. One thing worth mentioning is that the colors themselves are not strictly defined since there is a large number of shades, but we mostly use the most common names such as red or yellow.

Taking all of the previously mentioned into account, it should be easy to conclude that for the 'purposes' of everyday life, black can be considered a color. Once we begin to be more technical, there is some discussion to be made, but it should be noted that there is no answer that is 100% correct.

Symbolism Of The Color Black

During the history of the world, black has not only been seen as a color most of the time but also a color that is tied to a lot of meaning and symbolism. The most obvious one is mourning. Black started to get used as a symbol of grief in the Roman Empire, and it is still used that way today. Black clothes are often worn when someone close passes away. Widows that live in more traditional regions are known to wear black clothes for the rest of their lives.

Black is often considered as the color that represents darkness or something sinister or evil. In that context, it is usually placed as the opposite of the color white. White often symbolizes something good and pure. The usage of black as the color that represents something evil is mostly tied to popular culture in western societies. We can also often see villains in works of fiction dressed in all black, which should emphasize their menacing nature. In every one of these contexts, black is used as a color, and despite there not being a correct answer to the question if it truly is a color, in everyday speech, it should be considered as such. 

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