Columbia blue

Columbia Blue
    Color coordinates
Hex triplet#B9D9EB
sRGBB (r, g, b)(185, 217, 235)
HSV (h, s, v)(202°, 21%, 92%)
CIELChuv (L, C, h)(85, 25, 226°)
SourceColumbia University
ISCC–NBS descriptorVery light greenish blue
B: Normalized to [0–255] (byte)

Columbia blue is a light blue color named after Columbia University. The color itself derives from the official hue of the Philolexian Society, the university's oldest student organization. Although Columbia blue is often identified with Pantone 292, the Philolexian Society first used it in the early 19th century, before the standardization of colors. Pantone 290, a slightly lighter shade of blue, has also been specified by some Columbia University offices, and is the current official color listed by the Columbia University visual communications office. Several other shades are also used by parts of the university in an official capacity.

The color has been adopted by several fraternities and sororities across the United States as well as by numerous secondary schools and other colleges and universities including Johns Hopkins University. It has also been used as the official color of a number of sports teams, including the Houston Oilers, the Buffalo Braves, and the Tampa Bay Rays.


Poster depicting the archetypal Columbia University man, by John Emmet Sheridan, 1902.

Columbia blue derives from the official colors of the Philolexian Society, which was founded at Columbia in 1802. Members of the society have been reported to have worn blue satin rosettes and silver tassels as part of their academic regalia, while members of the rival Peithologian Society would wear white rosettes and gold tassels. The color was first combined with white to represent the university in 1852, during a joint event between the two societies. Both parties wishing to be represented in the promotion of the event, and having decided that using all four colors would be excessive, they picked the color scheme of blue and white, the former borrowed from the Philolexian Society, and the latter from the Peithologian. The two colors were quickly adopted by students to represent the College. According to John Howard Van Amringe, the color first entered official use during a boat race in 1873.


In a 2009 publication, the university officially lists Columbia blue as Pantone 290, though a darker shade, such as Pantone 292, may still be called Columbia blue when used on a light background. "Secondary Blues" used by the university include Pantone 284, 285, 286, and 280, while the Columbia University Irving Medical Center uses Pantone 7686 and 3005. In one of the first attempts at standardization, the university's athletics department declared Columbia blue to be Pantone 292 in 1999, though, as of 2016, the Columbia Lions actually use Pantone 291; however, Pantone 292 still remains a popular byword for Columbia blue and the university as a whole.

Shades of Columbia blue
Pantone 290 Pantone 292 Pantone 284 Pantone 285









Postcard representing Columbia featuring a woman dressed in Columbia blue, by F. Earl Christy, 1907.

Fraternities and sororities

Organizations, fraternities and sororities that use Columbia blue for their colors:

Colleges and universities

Secondary schools

Columbia blue is used as one of the two or three color symbols for the following colleges, universities and high schools:


The uniforms for the Houston Oilers, in use from 1987 to 1996

See also

This page was last updated at 2024-04-18 10:38 UTC. Update now. View original page.

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