Colours – English idioms and sayings

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Writing that is more complicated than necessary.
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purple prose
I hate purple prose. Why can't people just cut to the chase and write only what is worth writing?
1. To try too hard to please someone, especially people in authority, in a way that is not sincere and that other people find unpleasant; 2. A person who does such things.
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brown nose
also: brown-noser
I'm sick of Joey. He keeps brown-nosing and the worst thing is that my professor seems to like it. Ugh!
Absorbed in one's thoughts (usually unhappy), daydreaming.
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in a brown study
Come on, we're going shopping. Maybe that we'll get you out of this brown study you're in today.
1. To be inexperienced; 2. to be ecological.
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to be green
Hey, don't worry. I remember what it was like to be green. It's better to ask questions than to mess something up.
1. Something that moves very fast; 2. A stream of words (when someone talks so much and so fast it seems he or she will never stop).
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blue streak
Aunt Marge talked a blue streak and we had to sit there and listen to her all day. I'm so tired!
Very pale.
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white as a sheet
Are you feeling well? You're white as a sheet.
The blood of a noble family; a member of a wealthy family.
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blue blood
Have you heard that Margot is a blue blood? Her grandfather owns a real castle!
To not have debts.
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to be in the black
I admit that I had some financial problems but I'm in the black now and everything's fine.
About a person who is always good and honest.
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to be whiter than white
My child is whiter than white. She couldn't have done it!
To be bruised.
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to be black and blue
Oh my God! What happened? You're all black and blue.
To be sad.
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to be (feel) blue
I'm feeling a bit blue today. Do you feel like coming over? I could use some company.
To have debts, to spend more money than you earn.
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to be in the red
His business is in the red. He needs to find a way to earn some money or he'll get into serious troubles.
To be jealous, envious of somebody or something.
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to be green with envy
Did you see Julie's reaction? She was literally green with envy when she saw Mark with his new girlfriend.
In very good health.
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be in the pink
My neighbour is almost 80 years old but she's still in the pink.
Something that costs a lot of money and is useless or troublesome.
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white elephant
My grandparents were so happy to give me their old house but for me it's rather a white elephant. It costs me a lot to keep it in a good state and I can't sell it because that would break their hearts!
A list of people, organizations etc. that are under suspicion, disfavour etc.
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blacklist
Be careful or Susie will put you on her blacklist. She does it to everyone who has ever been rude to her. Seriously. I wonder how long this list must be by now.
Someone who is thought to be a bad person by the rest of his or her family.
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black sheep
Being the only one in his family who's not a doctor Mark is thought to be a black sheep.
Humour that deals with sad, unpleasant aspects of life in a bitter or ironic way.
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black humour
I'm not a fan of black humour. I don't think it's appropriate to make fun of thing that are so serious.
Illegal trading of goods that are not allowed to be bought and sold.
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black market
You can find stolen goods on the black market.
A type of journalism that presents little or no legitimate news and instead uses eye-catching headlines and photos to sell more newspapers.
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yellow journalism
Oh please! How can you believe what they are writing? Don't you know it's just yellow journalism?
To edit, correct or delete.
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to blue-pencil
I can bear the criticism. Please, blue-pencil as much as you like in my book. I just need an honest opinion.
A state of strong emotion, excitement or activity.
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white heat
She was in white heat when she was writing that message to Tom and now she regrets it.
A film that shows people having sex.
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blue movie
also: blue film
You can't watch this! Blue movies are not for children!
To give a special welcome to someone (usually important).
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to roll out the red carpet
My sister is coming home after five years of living in France. I think we need to roll out the red carpet for her.
An intelligent and well-educated woman who is interested in books and spends most of her time studying.
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bluestocking
My girlfriend is a bluestocking. It's impossible to find a subject she has nothing to say about.
The little finger.
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pinkie
I hit my pinkie today. I know it's only one finger but it feels like I can't move my hand at all.
Full evening dress; most formal evening dress code for men.
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white tie
It's a white-tie party. You really think you can sneak in wearing your jeans?
To be cowardly.
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to have a yellow streak down one's back
Sam has a yellow streak down his back. He won't go with us.
In the act of doing something wrong (e.g. committing a crime).
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red-handed
The thief was caught red-handed.
Official rules and/or procedures that seem unnecessary and result in delay of results.
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red tape
No one wants to deal with red tape but everybody has to.
Suddenly, without warning.
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out of the blue
I'm sorry for calling you out of the blue but I need a favour.
A name given to a day claimed to be the most depressing day in the year.
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Blue Monday
No wonder you're feeling a bit depressed today. It's Blue Monday.
Worthless.
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not worth a red cent
I thought that the necklace I found was precious but apparently it's not worth a red cent. What a pity.
A lie you tell in order to be polite or to stop somebody from being upset by the truth.
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white lie
Well, I know I should have told Alex the truth but I couldn't bring myself to it. It was just a white lie. It didn't hurt anybody and it sure made him feel better!
A situation that is unclear; a subject that people don't know how to deal with because there are no clear rules.
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grey area
It's a grey area of law.
To say (or do) something that you know will harm someone's reputation.
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to blacken someone's name
Don't say it was an accident! You knew that if people find out about Charlie's past they will get suspicious. You did it to blacken his name!
Very clear, clearly defined.
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black and white
You don't need to explain this to me. It's all black and white.
To look ill (as if about to throw up).
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to be green around the gills
You are green around the gills. Maybe we should come to a stop for a moment? I'm afraid you're getting motion sickness.
To surrender, to give in.
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to wave (raise / carry) a white flag
I couldn't take it any longer, I just had to wave a white flag. I hate arguing with Janice.
An expression on one's face that shows anger and/or hate.
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black look
Wow, what did you do to deserve that black look? She must hate you!
A person who is employed in a job that is traditionally considered to be women's work (e.g. nurse, babysitter).
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pink-collar workers
It's not typical for men to be pink-collar workers but it happens more and more often.
A person who performs a manual labour (except agriculture).
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blue-collar workers
The term "blue-collar workers" refers to the fact that manual labourers used to wear blue overalls.
A person who performs administrative work.
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white-collar workers
Ironically, white-collar workers don't wear white collars anymore. It's all about smart casual now.
Loyal, faithful.
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true blue
Don't worry about Kate. She's a true-blue. I trust her.
A law that prohibits certain practices (that are considered inmoral for religious reasons) on Sundays.
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blue law
Blue laws are enforced in some of the European countries. That's why most shops are closed on Sundays.
A state of great terror, confusion and deep thought.
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blue funk
Carrie has been in a blue funk since the accident. She's not herself now.
1. A time when there is no light or power; 2. A term used to describe when a person is so drunk that they wake up the next morning with no recollection of what happened.
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blackout
There was a blackout yesterday. Suddenly the whole city became dark. It was strange.
An idiom that means you should not criticize others for a fault you have yourself.
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the pot calling the kettle black
You think I am mean? Isn't that the pot calling the kettle black?
A positive attitude that makes you fail to notice negative things.
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rose-coloured glasses
Ever since she started dating James she sees everything through rose-coloured glasses. Nothing can ruin her mood.
A prize for first place; something that is excellent, the best of particular group.
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blue ribbon
Your performance was amazing, you deserve a blue ribbon.
1. Promising, hopeful, suggesting good fortune; 2. Easy and pleasant.
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rosy
Things are looking rosy. I think we can actually win this year.
An attempt of covering up something bad.
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whitewash
Don't lie to me. I know the whole story was just a whitewash.
To become unconscious suddenly (for a short time).
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to black out
The pain was so terrible that Susan blacked out for a moment.
The act of getting money from someone or forcing them to do someone threatening them.
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blackmail
He was found guilty of blackmail and sent to prison.
To get money from someone or force them to do something by using threats.
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to blackmail
My sister blackmailed me into cleaning her room by using my childhood photos and threatening to show them to my new boyfriend.
A person's intelligence, brains.
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grey matter
Use your grey matter! It's not that difficult!
A mean, despicable person.
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yellow-dog
I can't believe you fell for Steve. Everyone knows he's a yellow-dog.
Cowardly.
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yellow
My friend is so yellow. She won't go out when it's dark outside. She's too scared!
Something that takes people's attention away from the matter being dealt with; something that is misleading.
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red herring
This book is full of red herrings. I realised what was actually going on at the very end!
A formal evening dresscode.
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black tie
I know that the invitation said "black tie" but it doesn't mean you actually need to wear a black tie. You can wear a gray one if you want. Just dress formally.
A special, happy and important day for you (one that can be marked with red color in the calendar).
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red-letter day
It's a red-letter day for me and Harry. It's our anniversary today!
A poor white person without education living in the countryside in southern United States.
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redneck
You can't call people rednecks. It's rude.
To become very angry.
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to see red
I just got so angry that I saw red. I hate Jules!
To vote against; to exclude someone from a group/profession.
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to blackball
He was blackballed because of the serious argument he had with the chairman.
To avoid thinking about or remembering something (usually because it is stressful or unpleasant).
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to black out a memory
I tried very hard to black out the memory of seeing you in that costume but it comes back every time I look at you. I'm sorry, I just can't stop laughing!
A document saying that you don't have your job anymore.
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pink slip
I got a pink slip today. I have no idea what to do now.
Embarrassed.
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red-faced
I was standing there red-faced as the other kids were laughing at me.
A permission.
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green light
My boss gave me a green light to start working on this new project.
To do something completly or with great effect.
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to do sth up brown
Whatever she does, she does it up brown. She's a professional.

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