Outside of chemistry, I've used the word saturation to talk about how blue (or how green, red, etc.) something is. In the lab that I'm writing, I have three undesirable options:

  1. use saturation and risk ambiguity with the other sense of the word (I could include a footnote that specifies the intended sense of the word; however, my experience has taught me that TA's rarely read footnotes.),
  2. use an awkward construction (e.g. the degree/amount of blue exhibited by the solution), or
  3. use an unusual term or a neologism (i.e. blueness).

None of those options are especially appealing.

Is there a word that chemists use to talk about how blue (or how green, etc.) a solution is?

  • $\begingroup$ And what's the problem with darker/lighter? $\endgroup$
    – Mithoron
    Nov 10, 2015 at 16:54
  • $\begingroup$ I'll point out that chemists don't use clear and colorless to mean the same thing. Clear means devoid of particulates or any colloidal scattering, so the solution would transparent but it could be any color. Colorless means devoid of any color and transparent. // I'd go with light/medium/dark for blues. $\endgroup$
    – MaxW
    Nov 10, 2015 at 19:24
  • $\begingroup$ What about opaqueness. It is unambiguous for single-dye mixtures. If saturation is undesirable you could also use a simple derived neologism like "hue-strength". $\endgroup$
    – jiggunjer
    Jul 29, 2016 at 0:36

1 Answer 1


Using a spectrometer, you could accurately measure the degree to which light is absorbed by a solution ("absorbance" or "optical density") at a certain wavelength, and in a cell of certain dimensions. So, if you had a blue dye dissolved in water (which might appear blue because it primarily absorbs orange light), the absorbance (measured using orange wavelengths of light) would be proportional to the concentration of dye in water.

  • $\begingroup$ that's exactly the lab I'm doing. In fact, it's for a sentence stating that there is a proportional relation between absorbance of non-yellow light and the yellowness of the solution. $\endgroup$
    – Hal
    Nov 10, 2015 at 20:03
  • $\begingroup$ I was going to suggest intensity but now you've got me thinking! It's a good question. Colors can be vibrant but I don't know if that applies either. $\endgroup$
    – Technetium
    Nov 10, 2015 at 23:47

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