'Royal Blue' vs 'Navy Blue': What's the Difference?

By Katie Moore, updated on August 30, 2023

‘Royal Blue’ vs ‘Navy Blue’: What’s the difference? As we expand our vocabulary, we can move away from general descriptions and learn to be more specific. This can help us enhance our writing and be better conversationalists. Here, we’ll focus on the difference between ‘Royal Blue’ vs ‘Navy Blue’.

In a hurry? Here’s a quick version of what’s to come:

  • ‘Royal Blue’ is a rich shade of blue named for British royalty.
  • ‘Navy Blue’ is a darker shade of blue associated with various navies.

What’s the Difference Between ‘Royal Blue’ vs ‘Navy Blue’?

Aside from the obvious difference in name, the primary difference between these words is the shades of blue they describe. 

  • ‘Royal Blue’ is known to be a deep and vivid blue color, that, as a shade, is typically more bright. In many American definitions, the color is specifically referenced as having more purple undertones.
  • Meanwhile, ‘Navy Blue’ is also a dark shade of blue, but has more hints of yellow and is more of a dull tone. 

In essence, the big difference between the colors themselves is the brightness and underlying tones with which they’re mixed and influenced. If you’re an artist, or doing any writing or presenting on art, this can be incredibly helpful. 

But what if we want to focus on more than just the color? For example, why are these colors named the way they are? Let’s add to our knowledge and dive into the history of ‘Royal Blue’ vs ‘Navy Blue’ individually. 

History of ‘Royal Blue’: Where Does the Word Come From?

According to Canva, ‘Royal Blue’ is a deep, vivid blue that is lighter than ‘Navy Blue.’ The color was first created by a group of mills in Rode, Somerset in England. They won a competition to make a dress and robe for Queen Charlotte, consort of King George III. 

  • The color was thus named ‘Royal Blue’ after it was chosen by the crown because the shade of blue dye that was used had yet to be officially worn by any other royalty.

While there was some ambiguity about the specific shade of blue, the World Wide Web Consortium assigned the rich blue shade an official online color code in the 1980s, which solidified its formally known shade. 

The color keeps up its royal ties by often being associated with formal events and other regal associations. It is also tied to British history by being the color featured in the country’s flag: the Union Jack. 

Definition of 'Royal Blue': What Does it Mean?

According to the Dictionary, 'Royal Blue' is a noun that means:

  • A vivid purplish blue
    • "He wore a royal blue cape."
  • A deep, vivid blue with regal associations thanks to its relationship with the British royal family

The term was officially coined around the 1820s, but has been associated with other names such as ‘Queen Blue’ and ‘Imperial Blue.’

Definition of ‘Navy Blue’: What Does it Mean?

According to the Dictionary, ‘Navy Blue’ is:

  • A dark shade of blue that is made by adding yellows, oranges, and a bit of black to a blue base.
  • The term originates from the uniforms worn by naval officers in the British Royal Navy in the early 1700s and is now worn by many navies worldwide.

The color was originally made using a special indigo dye that was popular in the early 18th through 20th centuries. Indigo dye is a less bright color, which is why many modern uniforms have a richer shade since they use synthetic dyes. 

  • A fun fact is that the color was originally called marine blue for the waters on which the soldiers sailed.
  • But it adopted its more formal and official ‘Navy Blue’ name around the 1830’s despite having been worn for almost one hundred years before that. 

Pronunciations: How to Pronounce 'Royal Blue' vs 'Navy Blue'

Since we don't just use language while writing, we want to ensure you feel confident using these terms while speaking as well. This means more than just knowing what they mean, but knowing how to say them properly as well. Below, you'll find tips on how to pronounce these new terms.

Use this phonetic spelling of 'Royal Blue'as a guide:

  • 'roy-yuhl bloo' (with the 'o' in 'Royal' being rounded like in "boy)

Use this phonetic spelling of 'Navy Blue' as a guide:

  • 'nay-vee bloo' (with the 'a' being a nasal sound like in "play")

How to Use ‘Royal Blue’ vs ‘Navy Blue’ in a Sentence

Now that you’ve learned more about these terms let’s make sure you feel confident using them in an everyday setting. More specific words like ‘Royal Blue’ vs ‘Navy Blue’ can be great for adding descriptions to your creative and academic writing. Below are some sample sentences that show a variety of contexts where these words might appear. 

‘Royal Blue’ Example Sentences

  • You could clearly see the difference between the British royalty and the royalty of other countries because they all wore royal blue accessories. 
  • Based on the acclaimed novel, the movie ‘Red, White, and Royal Blue was just released on streaming platforms. 
  • She wanted her Queen Charlotte costume to be perfect, so she scoured the internet for a period-accurate royal blue robe. 

‘Navy Blue’ Example Sentences

  • Navy blue is a very popular color in the winter months and pairs nicely with deep shades like maroon and cream. 
  • You can always pick out the naval officers in the military branch meetings because of their navy blue fatigues. 
  • Despite the brightness of all the other furniture in the room, he decided to buy a navy blue couch because it was the most comfortable. 

‘Royal Blue’ vs ‘Navy Blue’ Example Sentences

  • Royal blue and navy blue are sometimes used interchangeably despite being officially labeled as very different colors. 
  • She mixed the paint to be a dark navy blue, but it lightened to a shade closer to royal blue when it dried. 

Final Advice on ‘Royal Blue’ vs ‘Navy Blue’

Learning more precise terms is a great way to expand your vocabulary and make your sentences more sophisticated. Remember that learning the history of words is a great way to better understand them. 

Want a recap? Here’s a short review of what we learned: 

  • ‘Royal Blue’ is a deep and rich purplish blue that was named for the official color of British royalty. 
  • Meanwhile, ‘Navy Blue’ is a darker and yellower blue that was named for the color of naval officers’ uniforms. 

Want to keep building your vocabulary? Check out other confusing word articles to learn the history of other words and learn how to make your word use more precise. Discovering descriptive words is a great way to build creative writing skills and make your work flourish.

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Written By:
Katie Moore
Katie is a recent graduate of Occidental College where she worked as a writer and editor for the school paper while studying linguistics and journalism. She loves helping others find their voice in writing and making their work the strongest it can be. Katie also loves learning and speaking other languages and wants to help make writing accessible for everyone.

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