Color is everywhere in the world, making things beautifully vibrant. What a sad state it would be if color was erased. Color has the power to convey meaning. In the English language, color is a part of expressing meaning and emphasizing a point using a rainbow rich vocabulary. Here is a low down of some of the popular color phrases and their respective meanings, which will be helpful for you to remember:
White Color Phrases
To wave a white flag
This signifies that someone has lost a war, a game, or a challenge and that they are intent on giving up. This phrase is actually rooted in history during the times of war. When one army was already at the losing end with many lives lost and a lot of injuries, they would literally wave a piece of white material to indicate that they wanted to stop the fight.
Ex. While I was arguing with my boyfriend over his cheating ways, I waved the white flag and threw in the towel. I didn’t feel like there was a point as he would never change his ways. It was time for us to break up, instead.
As white as a ghost
This means a person’s faces has become very white or pale because he or she encountered something shocking and fearful.
Ex. She turned as white as a ghost when she saw her ex husband standing across the aisle.
To tell a white lie
This refers to telling a tiny or a small lie that supposedly doesn’t have much of an impact. It is a kind of lie that is not hurtful to another person, and doesn’t have any grave consequence. People often try to justify telling this kind of lie because it is not seen as being deliberately mean to another person; in fact, you do it to spared this person’s feelings.
Ex. I could not help but tell a white lie to mom about where I went with my dad. Since he and my mom were divorced, I don’t want to hurt her feelings.
Black Color Idioms
Black tie event
This means a super formal event that requires the men to wear their formal black tuxedos and the women their long ball gowns.
Ex. The company party was a black tie event in a posh hotel down town.
As black as coal
This phrase means that someone is very black. Coal is a compound that’s color black. It is a carbon based material that is used for camp fires.
Ex. Her long and beautiful hair was as black as coal.
Black and blue
This refers to someone who has been beaten up severely and has ugly bruising as a result. The color of bruise marks on the body are usually color blue and black. Bruises are the result of being hit by a hard object or by another person. It is a manifestation of swelling on the flesh.
Ex. After Manny Pacquiao lost the boxing match, he was black and blue all over because his opponent was super strong.
The pot calling the kettle black
This is used when someone who is not perfect accuses someone else of a flaw that he/she is also guilty of. This is a classic example of being hypocritical.
Ex. Jane kept insisting that I shouldn’t lie, but that’s like the pot calling the kettle black, because she cheated on her husband.
Black sheep of the family
This phrase has a negative connotation as it refers to someone who is different from the rest of the family. This person usually has notorious reputation in the family and it thought of with much disdain.
Ex. Betty has long been considered as the black sheep of the family because she never finished her studies and she got pregnant at 16 years old.
This usually refers to getting punched in the eye and getting bruising in that area.
Ex. I caught my friend stealing my money so I gave her a black eye.
Blue Color Idioms
Out of the blue
This refers to something that happens unexpectedly. The surprise event, usually without any warning or premonition, can be pleasant or unpleasant.
Ex. A half-sister I never knew I had showed up out of the blue yesterday and made quite a bit of drama in our home.
Once in a blue moon
This talks about a rare occurrence or something that hardly ever happens. The moon, after all, is white; and to see a blue colored moon is going to be a huge spectacle.
Ex. That mean professor of our only smiles once in a blue moon.
This means feeling very sad and depressed about an important issue.
Ex. My best friend was feeling blue after her boyfriend dumped her.
This doesn’t mean that a person has literally color blue blood. It signifies that someone is very wealthy or comes from the royal family.
Ex. It doesn’t come as a surprise that she’s loves Hermes, Louis Vuitton, and Tiffany because she’s got blue blood.
Blue in the face
This means trying to win people over but the end result isn’t successful.
Ex. People can keep on talking about me until they are blue in the face, but I don’t care.
Red Color Idioms
This means you suddenly become very angry because of something that was said or done that you lose control.
Ex. I was seeing red when I heard what he did to that poor woman.
Catch someone red-handed
This speaks about catching a person on the act of doing something that they are restricted from doing or they are not supposed to do at all.
Ex. We caught him red handed stealing all the money from the vault. He couldn’t deny it because it was caught on the CCTV camera.
To paint the town red
This is commonly used to describe going out and having an awesome time partying.
Ex. It’s my last night as a single woman, so let’s go out and paint the town red.
Roll out the red carpet
This means coming out to welcome someone warmly with a lot of pomp and celebration. This could also refer to greeting someone by showing high esteem and respect. This phrase actually comes from Hollywood because famous celebrities attend special events and are given special treatment while literally walking down a red colored carpet.
Ex. Beverly doesn’t always go home to her hometown, but when she does her parents roll out the red carpet.
This is frequently used to refer to something that requires unnecessary and too much paper work.
Ex. Applying for a business permit in a third world country involves a lot of red tape.
This talks about something that every one wants to have. This person, animal, event, or thing is seen to be on high demand.
Ex. That model is red hot right now and everyone wants her to be strutting down the cat walk for their fashion show.
This indicates the potential of harm or danger. It could also mean heading a warning because something does not feel quite right about the situation.
Ex. I saw a lot of red flags when I met my daughter’s boyfriend. I hope they never get married.
Green Color Idioms
This does not mean that a person has a literal green thumb. It just refers to so someone has a lot of talent for gardening. This person is good with plants and can make just about anything bloom and grow.
Ex. My mom has a green thumb who worked outside every weekend to maintain our garden. She said it was therapeutic for her.
Get the green light
This means getting the go signal that it is okay to do something. It means being given the permission or approval you desire. This actually gets its reference from the green sign in a traffic light.
Ex. After waiting for many months, Jennifer finally got the green light from her professors that she could begin gathering data for her dissertation.
Green with envy
This talks about an attack of the extreme feeling of jealousy. The person doesn’t literally turn green. But note that the is also a character called the green-eyed monster, which is another way of saying someone is jealous.
Ex. Her new bag made me green with envy.
The grass is always greener on the other side
This refers to the mindset that there is always something better in another place.
Ex. Sophia has always wanted to leave Mexico to live her American dream. Her mother asked her why she thinks that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.
Pink Color Idioms
This refers to someone who is extremely pleased and happy as a result of someone’s behavior.
Ex. Jason’s grandmother was tickled pink when her only son remembered her birthday.
Be in the pink
This is used when someone is in good health or in a good condition.
Ex. She is very happy to be in the pink again after the long hospital stay
The phrases listed above are just a few examples of how colorful the English language can be. It is important to learn and understand these phrases and idioms, so you can express yourself better when you speak or write. These are just some of the most popular color phrases, there are many others to discover!