Below is a list of idiomatic expressions related to colour:
colour idioms with meanings
1. Black and white
To take everything into consideration and oversimplify something. To judge everything as either one way or the other, good or bad.
Our boss always thinks that everything is straightforward, but he doesn’t realise that this whole situation is not as black and white as he thinks!
2. Put something down in black and white
To write or have something written down on paper for confirmation or evidence
I don’t understand why you don’t believe me! Look, it’s written here in black and white!
3. Black as night
Somewhere very dark, when it is hard to see anything
We had another power cut last night; it was as black as night in our house. We didn’t even have any candles!
4. Black and blue
Used to describe something that is badly bruised
John’s face was black and blue after the boxing match.
5. Black eye
A bruise near one’s eye
Fred came home with a horrible black eye today, but he won’t tell us what happened!
6. Black out
This means to, either darken by putting out or dimming the lights, or to lose consciousness.
We had a huge black out here last night, the whole town was out of power for about 7 hours!
I don’t know what happened to him, he just blacked out! Maybe he banged his head.
7. Black as a skillet
Used to describe something that is very dirty, black with dirt
My hands and clothes were as black as a skillet, and I was only halfway through cleaning your garage!
8. Black market
A term used for places where goods are illegally bought and sold for a profit.
Jerry used to sell cigarettes from South America on the black market!
9. Blackball someone
To exclude or ostracise someone socially, reject them
Their company has been blackballed ever since that scandal was all over the newspapers. No one wants to do business with them anymore.
10. Blacklist someone
To write someone’s name on a list if they break any rules, and ban them from having the opportunity to take part again
“I was in a lot of debt a while ago, and was unable to pay it all back, so I’ve been blacklisted. I’m not allowed to get a mortgage in my own name.
11. Pot calling the kettle black (shorten version: pot kettle black)
This is used when the person who hypocritically criticises or accuses someone else is as guilty as the person he or she criticises or accuses
She kept telling me that I shouldn’t do that, but that’s like the pot calling the kettle black, as she does it herself too!
12. Blackmail someone
To extort or take money from someone by using their secrets against them and threatening to reveal it to others
He has been blackmailing me for months with some photos that I didn’t know he had. I need someone to help me stop him!
13. In someone’s black books
To be in disgrace or in disfavour with someone
After that argument yesterday, I assure you he will be in a lot of people’s black books for quite some time!
14. Black tie event/affair
A formal event where male guests wear black bow ties with tuxedos or dinner jackets
The award’s ceremony will be a black tie event, so I’ll have to buy a smart suit. My wife is going to wear her purple ball gown.
15. Black sheep
Used to describe a person who is the ‘odd one out’ of a group, and doesn’t fit in with others around them. This could also be used to talk about someone who is a disgrace or embarrassment to their group.
I have always been the black sheep in my family, I have a completely different personality to all of them, and we don’t even look the same!
16. In the black
Meaning successful or profitable
Their company has been in the black ever since the new CEO took over, and changed it all around!
17. Pitch black
Another term for somewhere that is very dark, and you are unable to see anything
I was afraid to go downstairs, the whole house was pitch black, and very quiet.
18. Out of the blue
To appear out of nowhere without any warning, to happen quite suddenly or randomly by surprise
You won’t believe it but Sarah called me out of the blue yesterday, and told me she’s coming to visit! How unexpected!
Greg has decided to quit his job out of the blue, and go travelling for a year!
19. Blue pencil
To censor something, or limit the information that is shared
The reports about how soldiers were being treated abroad had been blue-pencilled by the authorities.
20. A blue-eyed boy
A critical description of a boy or young man who is always picked for special favours by someone in a position of higher authority.
He is such a blue-eyed boy! I don’t like that the manager always treats him as if he is special, it is not fair on the rest of us!
21. A bolt from the blue
When some unexpected bad news is received
It was a complete bolt from the blue for us, we had no idea that they were having problems, let alone getting divorced!
22. Blue blood
Used to describe someone from a noble, aristocratic or wealthy family
Many of the blue bloods in our town were invited to the royal wedding.
23. Blue ribbon
To be of superior quality or distinction, the best of a group
A blue ribbon panel of experts were invited to investigate the extraordinary remains.
24. Talk a blue streak
When someone talks very much and very rapidly
The woman in the hospital bed next to me talked a blue streak all day. I don’t where she got the energy from!
25. Feel blue
When someone looks or feels depressed or discontented
What’s that the matter with you today? You seem really blue. Is there something you’d like to talk about?
26. Blue in the face
To try really hard to win someone’s agreement, but usually end unsuccessfully
I kept trying to convince him that it was a good idea until I was blue in the face, but he’s so stubborn, he just kept disagreeing with me!
27. Once in a blue moon
To occur extremely rarely, or only once in a lifetime
My sister is working in Africa, she hardly ever has the time to call us. My parents only hear from her once in a blue moon.
28. Men/boys in blue
Used to describe the police, because of the colour of their uniforms
I saw the boys in blue outside our neighbour’s house last night. I hope everything is okay.
29. Blue collar
Used to describe men used as labourers, or factory workers
The got rid of a lot of the blue-collar workers during the recession. I would say they definitely suffered the most.
30. Browned off
To be bored or annoyed with someone or something
I’m always browned off when he comes to visit. He doesn’t like doing anything, and he hardly ever talks to anyone!
31.( as ) brown as a berry
The sunbed make me as brown as a berry.
32.a brown study
I didn’t speak to him as he seemed to be in a brown study.
33. To be green
Used to describe someone who is immature, or inexperienced
He can be rather green sometimes. I don’t think he’s ready to be promoted to a higher position yet.
34. Green with envy
Used to describe someone who is extremely jealous, full of envy
When we were children, my older brother always used to get green with envy if my dad bought something for me and not for him.
35. Give someone the green light / get the green light
When someone receives, or is given, permission to go ahead with something
We have been given the green the light by the Marketing Executive to go ahead with the new advertising campaign.
36. Grass is always greener on the other side
Used to describe a place that is far away, and better than, where you are now, or another person’s situation that is very different from your own
He realised that the grass is always greener on the other side when he saw that his new job wasn’t perfect, and had its own problems too.
37. Green belt
An area of fields and trees around a town
Our city has a policy of increasing the green belt around it.
38. Green thumb/green finger
Used to describe someone with a talent for gardening, having the ability to make plants grow
This garden used to look so beautiful when my mum lived here. She definitely had a green thumb. I wish I did too!
39. A grey area
Something that is not clearly defined, and there is still debate as to whether it is ‘black or white’, neither one way or another
Some of the current rules surrounding bedroom tax in the UK seem to be in a grey area, as many residents disagree with its determining factors.
40. A golden opportunity
An opportunity that may never present itself again
Think carefully about what you’re going to do, this is a golden opportunity, and you don’t want to mess it up!
41. A golden handshake
A large sum of money that is paid to a retiring manager or director, or to a redundant worker
The company Chairman received a huge golden handshake when he retired.
42. Golden boy
The term given to a young man idolised for a great skill, usually in sport.
By many of his fans, Wayne Rooney is seen as the golden boy of his football team.
43. Tickled pink
To be very pleased, thrilled or delighted about something
Anna was tickled pink that her fiancé had made such an effort for her birthday.
44. See pink elephants
When someone sees things that are not really there, because they are in their imagination
Anyone who hears his story thinks he sees pink elephants. It’s just such a far-fetched story, and very hard to believe.
45. Pink Slip
A termination notice received from a job
They gave me my pink slip last week, so I’ve got to find a new job
59. In the pink of something
Meaning in very good health
My grandmother looked ever so well when I saw her, she was in the pink of condition.