Colors in English Proverbs and Sayings
Colourful English Proverbs and Sayings - How Many of these Expressions do You Remember?
English is a colourful language - that is to say, colour features in many English proverbs and sayings . As human beings, we have a very developed visual sense, and this is reflected in our language.
You may notice, as you read on, that sometimes I refer to "colour" and sometimes to "color". That is because the former is the English spelling, which is closer to my heart, and the latter is the American spelling, which I use in order to appeal to my American readers. I can't bring myself to abandon the English spelling completely, but you might pick it up and think that it is a mis-spelling. Well, no, it's not - it's just me clinging to my first love, especially in the atmosphere of Brexit!
Colours in English Expressions
Fun and Learning Combined
This web page will be a fun reminder to native English speakers about the veritable rainbow of colours we use in figurative speech, without even thinking about it. For those who are just learning English, or who speak English as a second language, I hope that you will learn a lot, whilst enjoying the pictures and range of colours.
Proverbs and Sayings About Red
- Seeing Red - being furious (it originates from the fact that bulls get angry and charge when they see anything red).
- A red letter day - a special or lucky day
- To get the red light to be told to stop
- A red herring - something irrelevant
- Red tape - official bureaucracy or formality (so-called because lawyers and Government officials tie their documents together with red tape)
- To be caught red-handed - to be caught in the act
- There were some red faces - there were some embarrassed people
- Red sky at night, shepherds' delight, red sky in the morning, shepherds' warning - a proverb, meaning If you see a red sky at night, the weather will be good next day, but a red sky in the morning foretells bad weather
99 Red Balloons - Sung by Nena. I Love This Song
Sayings and Metaphors - Yellow and Green
- He is yellow - he is a coward
- He is green with envy - he is envious or jealous
- The green-eyed dragon - means jealousy (so you might say "he is suffering from the green eyed dragon")
- To get the green light - to get the go-ahead (this comes from traffic lights)
- He is green - he is a novice i.e. doesn't quite know what he is doing
- To go green - to become ecologically aware (green issues are issues relating to conservation and saving the planet).
Be careful therefore, because if you say someone is green, it could mean either jealous or uninitiated, or ecologically aware, depending on the context.
Yellow River Sung by The Tremeloes
Sayings and Metaphors - Pink and Purple
- In the pink - in flourishing good health or in a good situation
- Your pinky - your little finger
- Pink - relating to homosexuals as in "the pink economy" (deriving from being half-way between red and white)
- Seeing the world through rose-tinted glasses - seeing things in an unrealistically benign way
- To be purple with rage - To be very angry
Prince Singing Purple Rain
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Black in Sayings and Metaphors
- To have a black eye - to have a bruised eye
- A black maria - a police van
- A black look - a look of displeasure
- A black mark - a bad mark
- A black sheep - a disgrace to the family
- Black arts - witchcraft
- To black something out - to erase something from your mind, or to redact something from a document
- To have a face as black as thunder - to look very angry
- To have a black secret - to have a foul or evil secret
- To be in someone's black books - to be in disgrace
- To be in the black - to be in credit i.e. to have assets
- To blackball someone - to exclude someone from an organization
- To blacklist someone - to stop someone from getting a job
- To be in a black mood - to be in a bad mood, or be depressed
Paint it Black - Sung by The Rolling Stones
White and Grey
White and Grey - Sayings and Metaphors
White and Grey
- A grey area - an unclear or doubtful situation
- A greybeard - an old man
- To have it in black and white - to have something very definite (often meaning something written down)
- To be whiter than white - to be especially honest and upright
- So close you can see the whites of his eyes - very close indeed
- Pearly whites - teeth
- A white lie - a small lie to avoid problems, or a well-meaning lie to avoid upsetting someone
- A government white paper - a final government policy paper
- A white elephant - something which is useless
- A white feather - a symbol of cowardice
A Whiter Shade of Pale - Sung by Procol Harum
Colors in Proverbs and Sayings - Brown
- To be browned off - to be fed up or annoyed
- To brown nose someone - to suck up to someone (i.e. to be sycophantic in order to obtain a favour or advantage) - this is a bit rude and should not be used in front of people who are easily shocked
- To be in a brown study - to be absent-minded or depressed
Take the Poll Below About Language Learning - See how you compare with other pollsters
There are so many diffferent ways to learn a language - Learning at your mother's lap, learning at school, learning by tapes, videos, CD's and so forth, language schools, evening classes, travelling to the country and being in love.
Let's see how people learned to speak English.
So, what did you do - how did you learn English, and what stimulated you to learn this wonderful language with so many expressions and nuances?
Blue Eyes - Sung by Don Partridge - I Still Play This 1968 Hit Sometimes
Blue - Sayings and Metaphors
- Feeling blue - feeling miserable
- Blue eyed boy (or girl) - someone who can do no wrong (i.e. they look like an angel)
- Blue sky thinking - open-minded thinking
- Once in a blue moon - something which happens very rarely
- He is between the devil and the deep blue sea - he has two unpleasant alternatives
- A blue movie - a movie showing explicit sexual content
How did you learn to speak English?
Colors in Proverbs and Sayings - Gold
- All that glistens is not gold (or All that glisters is not gold) - you can't judge something or someone just by appearances
- All he touches turns to gold - he is very successful in all he does
- He has the golden touch - he has the knack of doing something well
- The golden age - the best age e.g. the golden age of innocence
- To worship the golden calf - to worship money i.e. to believe money is the most important thing in life
- The golden rule - the important or invariable rule
- As good as gold - very good behaviour
- He is gold - he is wonderful (or kind, helpful and so forth)
Colors in Proverbs and Sayings - Silver
- Silver tongued - to speak persuasively
- Cross his palm with silver - pay him money (often used in the sense of paying a bribe)
- Every cloud has a silver lining - there is always a prospect that some good will come out of a bad situation
- Look for the silver lining - Look for the good
- To be born with a silver spoon in his mouth - to be born wealthy or lucky or in a privileged situation
Did You Remember All these Proverbs and Sayings About Colours?
English speakers will probably know most or all of them;
To Students of English as a foreign language (or is it students of English as a second language?): I hope these pictures will help you to learn and remember each of these proverbs and sayings about colours.
I have made several other web pages about the English language, so, when you are ready, do take a look below:
Colours in Music on YouTube - Red Red Wine sung by Bob Marley
More of my Web Pages About English Language
- The English Tongue Twister
English tongue twisters will help students of English as a Second Language to improve their speech & will also help people who do public speaking, such as actors,barristers,and corporate public speakers. Saying tongue twisters is fun
- Ten English Proverbs and Sayings About Eggs
You should find this list of sayings about eggs very helpful. Who would have thought there would be so many English expressions about eggs?
- Ten English Proverbs and Sayings About Birds
Learn a few English Proverbs and Sayings, with some humorous examples of how the phrases should be used.There's also a poll, & a video about an amazing performing parrot
- English Expressions and Metaphors About Boundaries, Walls and Fences
The English are very keen on their boundaries and marking out their land and ownership. So this has given rise to many expressions and metaphors relating to fences, ditches, boundaries and walls.
- How to Improve Your English - Ten Idioms About Death
Common English idioms about death - learn when to use the appropriate phrase.