Idioms add color to our language, giving us playful ways to express ourselves in daily conversations. Among the spectrum of idioms, blue idioms hold a special place in English. These phrases can convey a wide range of emotions and situations, from feelings of sadness to assessments of rarity.
Language is a living thing, and the way we use color within it is particularly fascinating. In our exploration of blue idioms, we’ll find that they can be descriptive of moods, describe the situation of being caught off guard, or even convey a sense of optimism. It’s intriguing to see how a single color can encapsulate such diverse meanings.
What Are Blue Idioms?
Blue idioms are expressions in the English language that use the word “blue” to convey a particular emotion, situation, or idea. They are a colorful part of our language and can add nuance to our conversations.
Let’s explore some common blue idioms and their meanings:
- Out of the blue: This phrase means something happens unexpectedly or without warning. For example, “Our cousins arrived out of the blue for a visit.”
- Once in a blue moon: This idiom suggests an event is very rare. “We only see a meteor shower once in a blue moon.”
- Feeling blue: To feel sad or depressed. “I’ve been feeling blue since I heard the news.”
We encounter these expressions frequently, and they paint our language with the vibrant shades of emotion and context. Remembering what each of these idioms represents can help us understand and engage with others more effectively.
List of Blue Idioms
|Meaning and Example Sentence
|Blue in the face
|To try very hard to convince someone of something without any success.
Example: You can argue till you’re blue in the face, but I won’t change my mind.
|Once in a blue moon
|Something that happens very rarely.
Example: I only see him once in a blue moon; he rarely comes to our gatherings.
|Out of the blue
|Something happening unexpectedly.
Example: I got a call from an old friend out of the blue.
|Feeling sad or depressed.
Example: I’ve been feeling blue ever since I lost my job.
|Someone of noble or royal birth.
Example: She’s considered blue blood, with a lineage traceable to the early kings of Europe.
|To be loyal or faithful.
Example: She’s true blue, always standing by her friends no matter what.
|To be of superior quality or distinction; the best of a group.
Example: The blue ribbon went to the most outstanding pie in the contest.
|Relating to manual or industrial work and workers.
Example: My family has been blue-collar for generations, working in the steel industry.
|Into the blue
|Heading into the unknown or an uncertain situation.
Example: They sailed off into the blue, searching for new lands.
|Creative thinking that is not constrained by current thinking or beliefs.
Example: The team engaged in some blue-sky thinking to find a solution to the problem.
|Bolt from the blue
|A sudden and unexpected event or piece of news.
Example: The resignation of the director was a bolt from the blue for the company.
|Talk a blue streak
|To talk rapidly and excitedly.
Example: She can talk a blue streak when it comes to her favorite TV shows.
|A person highly regarded by someone and treated with special favor.
Example: He’s the blue-eyed boy of the coach, always getting extra praise.
|Beat someone black and blue
|To beat someone severely, causing them to be covered in bruises.
Example: He threatened to beat the thief black and blue if he ever caught him.
|Research in an area that has a lot of potential but no immediate practical application or guaranteed outcome.
Example: The university is known for encouraging blue-sky research among its scientists.
|Sing the blues
|To complain about one’s problems or to express one’s sadness.
Example: After losing his job, he spent the evening singing the blues with his friends.
|A Monday that is depressing or trying, especially because it follows the weekend.
Example: After the holiday, everyone was having a blue Monday back at work.
|Between the devil and the deep blue sea
|To be in a difficult situation where there are two equally undesirable alternatives.
Example: I was caught between the devil and the deep blue sea, with no good options available.
|Denoting a highly valuable asset, typically a high-priced stock.
Example: Investors are always looking to add more blue chip stocks to their portfolios.
|Feelings of sadness that a woman may have after giving birth to a baby.
Example: She was experiencing the baby blues, but her family was there to support her.
|Scream blue murder
|To make a loud and startling fuss or complaint.
Example: The toddler screamed blue murder when he was denied ice cream.
|To censor or make cuts to a text.
Example: The editor had to blue pencil several sections of the manuscript before publication.
|Blue plate special
|A special meal at a reduced price.
Example: I went to the diner for the blue plate special; it’s the best deal in town.
|An outlook of optimism and cheerfulness.
Example: After the successful merger, it was blue skies for the company’s financial future.
|Clear blue water
|A noticeable difference that separates a person or thing from a rival.
Example: There’s clear blue water between his political stance and that of his opponent.
|Blue wall of silence
|The informal code among police officers not to report on a colleague’s errors or misconducts.
Example: The case was difficult to resolve due to the blue wall of silence.
|An adult film with explicit sexual content.
Example: They accidentally played a blue movie on the hotel’s public TV channel.
|A minor interval where a major would be expected, used especially in jazz.
Example: The saxophonist’s use of blue notes added a soulful touch to the piece.
Blue Idioms in Different Contexts
Blue in The Face
The idiom “blue in the face” is typically used to describe a situation where someone is wasting their efforts by trying very hard to do something, often talking or arguing, without achieving any result, usually because the other person or people will not listen or change their mind. It suggests that one could argue until they are out of breath (turning blue from lack of oxygen) and still not succeed.
- Situation: Trying to convince a friend to quit smoking.
- Example: “I’ve been trying to convince Paul to stop smoking for years. I’ve talked until I was blue in the face, but he just won’t listen.”
- Situation: Debating with someone who has rigid opinions.
- Example: “We’ve been arguing about politics all night, and I can see that no matter what facts I present, she’s not going to change her stance. I might as well talk until I’m blue in the face.”
- Situation: Teaching someone who is not paying attention.
- Example: “I’ve explained the safety procedures to the new intern three times already. I can repeat myself until I’m blue in the face, but he just doesn’t seem to get it.”
The term “blue blood” refers to a person of noble or aristocratic descent. The idiom originates from the Spanish phrase “sangre azul,” which was used to distinguish the old nobility of Spain, who claimed to be of pure Christian descent, from the Moors. The concept was based on the notion that the nobility had lighter skin, so their veins appeared more prominently as blue through their skin, compared to those with darker skin. Over time, “blue blood” became synonymous with aristocracy and high social standing throughout various cultures.
- Situation: Describing someone from a family with a long lineage of wealth and power.
- Example: “She’s a blue blood, with ancestors who came over on the Mayflower and have been prominent in politics ever since.”
- Situation: Referring to events that are typically attended by people from high society.
- Example: “The charity gala was filled with blue bloods; each person there had a prestigious family background.”
- Situation: Discussing the advantages someone has due to their family background.
- Example: “He didn’t have to work hard to get into that elite school; he’s a blue blood, and his connections paved the way for him.”
The idiom “blue skies” is often used metaphorically to signify a time of happiness, peace, and tranquility, or to express optimism about the future, where everything is going well without any worries.
Business and Innovation:
- Situation: Discussing the potential success of a new, innovative product.
- Example: “The development team is really excited about the new software. They see nothing but blue skies ahead and are confident it will revolutionize the way we work.”
- Situation: Reflecting on a period of life free from stress or hardship.
- Example: “Now that she’s finally paid off her student loans, she’s looking forward to blue skies and starting to save for a trip around the world.”
- Situation: Predicting a period of sustained economic growth without any looming crises.
- Example: “The economist’s report predicts blue skies for the next fiscal year, with strong job growth and low inflation rates.”
Into The Blue
The idiom “into the blue” typically refers to going into the unknown or embarking on an adventure without a clear plan or direction. It evokes the image of heading out into the vast, open sky or sea without a specific destination.
Starting a New Venture:
- Situation: Leaving a stable job to start an independent business without any certainty of success.
- Example: “After years of working in the corporate world, she decided to step into the blue and open her own bakery.”
Traveling Without a Set Itinerary:
- Situation: Going on a trip without a fixed schedule or pre-booked accommodations.
- Example: “They packed their bags, bought a one-way ticket, and flew into the blue, ready to explore wherever the road might take them.”
Pursuing a Creative Endeavor:
- Situation: An artist begins a project without a clear concept of what the final piece will look like.
- Example: “The painter stared at the blank canvas before him, ready to dive into the blue and let his creativity guide the brush.”
The idiom “true blue” refers to someone who is loyal, faithful, and dependable in their beliefs or affiliations. It suggests unwavering support and steadfastness.
- Situation: Describing a friend who has always been reliable and supportive.
- Example: “No matter what I go through, I can always count on Sarah. She’s true blue and has been my best friend since we were kids.”
- Situation: Referring to a person who consistently supports a particular political party.
- Example: “John has voted for the same party in every election for the past 30 years. He’s a true blue supporter of their policies.”
- Situation: A company recognizing an employee who has shown exceptional loyalty and dedication to the job.
- Example: “With 25 years at the company, Mark has proven himself to be a true blue member of our team, always going above and beyond for the firm.”
Sing The Blues
The idiom “sing the blues” refers to expressing one’s troubles or lamenting one’s misfortunes, often through the medium of music, specifically the blues genre, which is known for its soulful and melancholic sound. However, the phrase can also be used more generally to describe someone who is complaining or feeling down about their situation.
Facing Personal Hardships:
- Situation: Someone going through a tough time and sharing their woes with others.
- Example: “Ever since he lost his job, he’s been singing the blues, hoping for some sympathy from his friends.”
- Situation: An artist performing songs that express sorrow or the struggles of life.
- Example: “The jazz club was filled with emotion last night as the singer took to the stage to sing the blues, her voice echoing the heartache of the lyrics.”
- Situation: Fans of a sports team that has been on a losing streak.
- Example: “After their team lost the championship game, the fans were left to sing the blues, wondering what went wrong.”
Last Updated on December 1, 2023
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