10 common colour idioms
Colour idioms are very common in English. We’ve chosen ten common ones for this list.
At the bottom of the page you’ll find a link to a quick quiz for testing yourself on these idioms.
black and white
thinking of everything or judging everything in a simple way and seeing it as either good or bad
The situation isn’t as black and white as it seems; it’s much more complicated.
to black out
to darken by putting out the electric lights or covering over the windows
Londoners had to black out their windows during the German bombing raids at the beginning of the war.
to black out
to lose consciousness
He blacked out after standing up for three hours in the parade. A doctor had to attend to him.
to be blue in the face
to be very angry or upset; to be excited and very emotional
She argued with her husband until she was blue in the face but he wouldn’t see her point of view.
to be green
to be inexperienced and/or immature
He’s a bit green – he still believes that someone is going to come and help him out of his situation. He doesn’t realise he has to do it himself.
the grass is always greener (on the other side)
when a place that is far away or different seems better than the place where we are now
He must be crazy to leave the company; he’s got a great job and a great salary. He really should stay where he is but he can’t see it – the grass is always greener on the other side.
to be green with envy
to be very jealous and full of envy
I was green with envy when I heard that she was going on holiday to Spain for a week while I had to stay and work.
to be in the red
to have debts
The company has been in the red for two years now. We now owe over $500,000 to our suppliers and the bank.
Many businesses complain about the amount of red tape that they have to deal with in Russia.
to come out of the blue
when something happens without a warning and by surprise
His decision to leave the company came completely out of the blue. No one expected it at all.
Test yourself on these colour idioms >>
See also: Stuart’s article on colour idioms >>