Colour of English!

Colour of English!

Add some colour to your English! Here are some common English expressions using colour:



– I’m feeling blue. (Sad and depressed – ships which lost officers or captains would fly blue flags).

– I’ve got the blues. (The African-American slaves dyed their clothes indigo to express sadness when mourning the dead).

– The letter arrived out of the blue. (Unexpectedly – falling out of a blue sky).



– I saw red when I caught her stealing my make-up.  (Angry – connected with bullfighting and the red cape).

– I caught her red-handed. (I caught her while she was doing something wrong. This comes from the idea of blood on the hands).

– I think that note we found on the body was a red herring. (A false clue – a red herring is a smoked fish which used to distract hunting dogs from the scent).



– I was green with envy. (Jealous, which the ancient Greeks associated with sickness and bile, which turned people a greenish colour).

– I ‘ve never been green-fingered – my garden looks like a jungle. (A good gardener – your hands become green when you work in the garden).

– He’s so green he will believe anything. (He is inexperienced, or green like unripe fruit).



– Many World Cup stadiums will be white elephants. (Expensive and useless – albino elephants were expensive to keep and sacred, so couldn’t work).

– I don’t always tell the truth because I think you have to tell a few white lies in your life. (A ‘kind’ lie that’s told so that you don’t upset someone).

– The investigation was a whitewash. (They concealed the truth – dirty houses used to be painted with white lime, or whitewash, to cover the dirt).



– If you do me this favour I’ll cross your palm with silver. (I’ll give you money).

– He was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. (He comes from a rich family – babies from wealthy families are given a silver spoon at Christenings).

– She’s so kind, she has a heart of gold.(Gold is valuable, so her heart is good).



– He’s the black sheep of the family. (He is different and unwanted – black sheep are genetically abnormal and their wool could not be dyed so was worthless).

– I’m in his black books for not coming into work. (In medieval times there was a black book where crimes and any misbehaviour were recorded).

– When he says she’s lazy it’s like the pot calling the kettle black. (Hypocritical – in the past there was always a pot and kettle hanging over the fire, black with soot).

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