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I tried looking for the word "chromologically", but didn't find any evidence to its existence.

Further answers about sorting not by wave length, but by other factors, such as saturation, or brightness, are also welcome.

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  • Using Latin rather than Greek, one gets "colour sequence".
    – Andrew Leach
    Sep 8, 2019 at 9:03
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    I know of no natural order of colours other than by wavelength, i.e. as in the colour spectrum. Is this what you mean? If so, I imagine you could make an adverb or adjective from spectrum — but I wouldn't, myself.
    – David
    Sep 8, 2019 at 9:20
  • @David Yes, that's what I meant in this case, but if there's a term for ordering generally by color even by different logic, I'd like to know.
    – John
    Sep 8, 2019 at 9:23
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    Well I'm not a colour scientist (or even an artist), but from my encounter with graphics software I am aware that you can order colours on different properties like hue and brightness. This Wikipedia article on colour theory may be of interest.
    – David
    Sep 8, 2019 at 9:31
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    @rajah9 To order them by wavelength, or other color property like saturation
    – John
    Sep 8, 2019 at 11:47

1 Answer 1

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Since there any many ways to order color, there’s no specific name for “sorting by color”.

See: The incredibly challenging task of sorting colours

Sometimes, you will say things are in “rainbow order”, which is the sorted band of sunlight colors, by wavelength, as passing through a prism. This is only a subset of possible colors.

See also: How to sort colors properly?

You can’t sort colors. Because the human eye has three distinct color sensors (red, green, and blue), color is fundamentally a three-dimensional quantity, and there is no linear ordering that brings together “similar” colors. If you sort first by the amount of red, for example, then you may bring together wildly different hues and brightnesses. If you sort by hue, then you bring together wildly different degrees of saturation and brightness, and so on. There’s just no way to do it.

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  • Spectral “colors” are trivially orderable by wavelength: monochromatic “red” of say 700 nm has a single scalar numeric value distinct from that of monochromatic “violet” of say 400 nm. But that will get you nowhere for the infinitely many non-spectral “colors”—such as purple or pink, beige or brown, or black, white, or grey—as these all lack a monochromatic metamere to use for wavelength ordering. As you note, non-spectral colors combine two or more spectral colors (read: monochromatic wavelengths of light) into the tristimulus value the human mind needs to perceive them.
    – tchrist
    Sep 8, 2019 at 15:45

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