Color Idioms in English Language and Their Meaning

muthusamy By muthusamy, 1st Mar 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Languages

Idioms are words and phrases that express a specific kind of meaning. It is easy to remember idioms, if we group them under different categories i.e, color idioms, food idioms and so on. It is one of the practical method for vocabulary improvement. Read on discover the list of color idioms which may help you to understand the phrases and their meaning.


Black: Black is the color of authority and power.The term “black” is often used in the West to denote the race of people whose skin color ranges from light to darker shades of brown. In ancient China, black was the symbol of North and Water, one of the main five colors. In Japanese culture, kuro (black) is a symbol of nobility, age, and experience, as opposed to shiro (white), which symbolizes serfdom, youth, and naivet. Black is a symbol of mourning and bereavement in Western societies, especially at funerals and memorial services.

Black body: In physics, a black body is a perfect absorber of light, but by a rule derived by Einstein it is also, when heated, the best emitter.

Black belt: Thus the black belt is a mark of achievement and seniority in many martial arts. These ranks are called dan.
Black bloc: Wearing black clothing is also sometimes an anarchist tactic during demonstrations, with a practical benefit of not attracting attention and making later identification of a subject difficult. This strategy is referred to as a black bloc.
Black box: A black box is any device whose internal workings are unknown or inexplicable.
Black flag: The plain black flag is explained in various ways, sometimes as an anti-flag or a non-flag.

Black frequently: Black frequently symbolizes ambiguity, secrecy, and the unknown.
Black hole: The term “black hole” is applied to collapsed stars. This term is metaphorical however, because few properties of black objects or black voids apply to black holes. However, light emitted within a black hole’s event horizon cannot escape, hence a black hole cannot be directly observed.

Black light: Ultraviolet light is called “black light” because, unseen (per se), it causes many minerals and other substances to fluoresce.

Black magic: Black magic is a destructive or evil form of magic, often connected with death,
Black market: The black market is used to denote the trade of illegal goods, or alternatively the illegal trade.

Black project: A black project is a secretive project, like Enigma Decryption, other classified military programs or operations, Narcotics, or police sting operations.
Black robes: Lawyers and judges often wear black robes.

Black sheep: The black sheep of the family is the ne’er-do-well.

Black sky: Black sky refers to the appearance of space as one emerges from the Earth’s atmosphere.

Blackmail: Blackmail is the act of threatening to reveal information about a person unless the threatened party fulfills certain demands.


Blue: The blue is one of the most popular colors. It causes the opposite reaction as red. Peaceful, tranquil blue causes the body to produce calming chemicals, so it is often used in bedrooms. Blue can also be cold and depressing.
The English language commonly uses “blue” to refer to any colour from navy blue to cyan. The word itself is derived from the Old French word bleu. In the English language blue may refer to the feeling of sadness. Blue often represents the human emotion of sadness. e.g. “He was feeling blue”.

Blue movie: An adult movie or one with significant sexual content can be referred to as a “blue movie”

Blue ribbon: In symbolism blue ribbon is a term used to describe something of high quality.


Green: Currently the most popular decorating color, green symbolizes nature. It is the easiest color on the eye and can improve vision. It is a calming, refreshing color. People waiting to appear on TV sit in “green rooms” to relax. Hospitals often use green because it relaxes patients.

The word green is closely related to the Old English verb growan, "to grow". It is used to describe plants or the ocean.

Green (Emotion): Sometimes it can also describe someone who is inexperienced, jealous, or sick.

Green (Environment):Green is common in nature, especially in plants.
Green Movement: Recent political groups have taken on the color as symbol of environmental protection and social justice, and consider themselves part of the Green movement, some naming themselves Green parties. This has led to similar campaigns in advertising, as companies have sold green, or environmentally friendly, products.
Green (Religion): Green is considered the traditional color of Islam. For example, Islam venerates the color, as it expects paradise to be full of lush greenery.

Green Revolution: The Green Revolution of agriculture that led in some places to significant increases in agricultural production between the 1940s and 1960s. India began its own Green Revolution program of plant breeding, irrigation development, and financing of agrochemicals. M. S. Swaminathan, adviser to the Indian minister of agriculture played a key role in the revolution.

Green (Social): Green is also associated with regeneration, fertility and rebirth for its connections to nature.

Greenwashing: A company is greenwashing if they advertise positive environmental practices to cover up environmental destruction.


Grey: Grey symbolizes mediocrity, the background noise of society.

Grey Area: A concept that is in a Grey area is a concept about which one is unsure what category in which to place it.

Grey (Emotion): Grey is often synonymous with things that are dull and boring. Grey represents pessimism whereas its opposite, optimism, is represented by the color rose.

Grey goo: Grey goo is to a hypothetical end-of-the-world scenario involving molecular nanotechnology in which out-of-control self-replicating robots consume all living matter on Earth

Grey matter: The substance that composes the brain is referred to as “grey matter”, and so the color is associated with things intellectual.

Grey person: A “grey person” is someone who goes unnoticed (Parties).

Grey Hair: Aging hair is often perceived as being grey although it is actually white, because white hairs next to other colors look comparatively darker. Hence grey is associated with the elderly.

Orange and Red


Orange: Orange (deep saffron.)in general represents Hinduism in the flags of India.


Red: The most emotionally intense color, red stimulates a faster heartbeat and breathing. It is also the color of love. Red clothing gets noticed and makes the wearer appear heavier. Since it is an extreme color, red clothing might not help people in negotiations or confrontations.

The color red is associated with heat, energy and blood, and emotions that stir the blood, including anger, passion, and love. Fire is also strongly connected. associated with lust, passion, love, and beauty as well. Red is also used as a symbol of courage and sacrifice.

Red (Blood): Oxygenated blood is red due to the presence of oxygenated hemoglobin.

Red cross: International symbol for first aid, ambulance.
Red flag : “Socialist” red was used as a color of European Revolutionaries, often in the form of the red flag.. During the 1950s when red was so strongly associated with communism.

Red-handed: Phrase “caught red-handed”, meaning either caught in an act of crime or caught with the blood of murder still on one’s hands.

Red-light districts: At one point, red was associated with prostitutes, or now, with brothels (red-light districts).

Red (Mythology): Satan is usually depicted as colored red and/or wearing a red costume in both iconography and popular culture.

Red (Night vision): Red light is used to preserve night vision in low-light or night-time situations, as the rod cells in the human eye aren’t sensitive to red.

Red Planet: Mars is called the Red Planet.

Red (Signal): Red has seen widespread use as a danger signal, in stop signs, to warn people of extreme heat or flammability, and even to signal warnings in sports such as soccer.

Red (Symbol): The usage for animal color appears similar to that for red ochre, red hair and Red Indian.


White: Brides wear white to symbolize innocence and purity. White reflects light and is considered a summer color. White is popular in decorating and in fashion because it is light, neutral, and goes with everything. Examples include classic “white” substances such as sugar, foam, pure sand or snow, cotton, clouds, and milk. White is commonly the color of snow and ice.

White elephant: A white elephant is a gift or possession that creates a burden or difficulty for the recipient.

White (Clothe): White is the clothing color of the physicians, surgeons, as well as cricketers.

White (Economics): White is often associated with Capitalism (as opposed to Communism).

White feather: To “show the white feather” is to display cowardice.

White flag: A white flag is an international sign of either surrender, or truce, that is, it is a sign of peaceful intent, typically at time of war.

White House: The White House is the residence of the President of the United States.

White magic: Healing or “good” paranormal magic is called White magic.

White noise: White noise, in acoustics, is a sibilant sound that is often a nuisance, although it can also be deliberately created for test purposes.

Whiteout: Whiteout is a weather condition in which visibility is reduced and surface definition lost in snowy environments.

White paper: A white paper can be an authoritative report on a major issue, as by a team of experts; a government report outlining policy; or a short treatise whose purpose is to educate industry customers. It is called white paper because it was originally bound in white.

White Revolution: The White Revolution (Persian: Enghelab-e-Sephid) was a far-reaching series of reforms launched in 1963 by the last Shah of Iran. Verghese Kurien, chairman of the Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd.(GCMMF), set up the Anand model of cooperative dairy development, engineered the White Revolution in India, and made India the largest milk producer in the world.

White ribbon: The white ribbon is worn by movements denouncing violence against women.

White Rose: The White Rose was a non-violent resistance group in Nazi Germany, consisting of five students from the University of Munich and their philosophy professor.

White (Science): In the science of lighting, there is a continuum of colors of light that can be called “white”. Stars of stellar class A are white.

White (Social): White often represents purity or innocence in Western Civilization. In Chinese, Japanese and Korean tradition, white is the color of mourning and death. In Indian tradition, white is also the color of death and ghosts, and also stands for Peace and Purity.

White Stick: White Stick as a symbol of blindness.

White Terror: This originated from Royalist rebellions against the French Revolution (see Revolt in the Vend�e), known as the White terror.

Whitewash: Whitewash, figuratively, means an attempt to obscure the truth by issuing a blanket of lies.


Yellow: Cheerful sunny yellow is an attention getter. While it is considered an optimistic color, people lose their tempers more often in yellow rooms, and babies will cry more. It is the most difficult color for the eye to take in, so it can be overpowering if overused. Yellow enhances concentration, hence its use for legal pads. It also speeds metabolism. Yellow is associated with age and aging, both with people and objects (i.e. yellowed-paper).

Yellow cake: Yellowcake (also known as urania and uranic oxide) is concentrated uranium oxide, obtained through the milling of uranium ore.

Yellow Card: In Association football (soccer), the referee shows a yellow card to indicate that a player has been officially cautioned.

Yellow (Emotion): The term is associated at times with jealousy, as well as cowardliness.

Yellow emperor: The legendary first emperor of China was known as the Yellow Emperor.

Yellow-fever mosquito: A yellow-fever mosquito is a mosquito in the Aedes genus, so named because they transmit dengue fever and yellow fever, the mosquito-born viruses.

Yellow (Graphite): Pencils are often painted yellow, originally because of the association of this color with the orient, where the best graphite was found.
Yellow (Jaundice): Yellow is associated with jaundice, since someone who has that disease turns yellow. yellow has traditionally been associated with jaundice and cowardice.

Yellow journalism: “Yellow journalism” was sensationalist journalism that distorts, exaggerates, or exploits news to maximize profit. Lastly, it is associated with sensational journalistic practices, or yellow journalism, and resistance to militant trade unions.

Yellow Race: Asian people are sometimes referred to as the yellow race.



2. Color Psychology: Do different colors affect your mood?


Color Idioms, Colorful Expressions, English Language, Grammar Tips, Idioms, Languages

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author avatar muthusamy
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author avatar Rathnashikamani
1st Mar 2011 (#)

Oh my god, you made English so colorful!

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author avatar Jerry Walch
1st Mar 2011 (#)

I love this one. Nice work. I've bookmarked it for future reference.

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author avatar muthusamy
1st Mar 2011 (#)

Thank you Mr.Rathnashikamani and Mr.Jerry Walsh

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author avatar Jerry Walch
1st Mar 2011 (#)

Jerry will do just fine, the mister isn't necessary. We are all friends here.

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author avatar Rathnashikamani
2nd Mar 2011 (#)

I echo Jerry. No titles needed in friendship.

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author avatar muthusamy
2nd Mar 2011 (#)

Thank you I will follow this hereafter

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author avatar Denise O
3rd Mar 2011 (#)

Love this article. Well put together, well written, just all around good. As always, thank you for sharing.:)

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author avatar Banafsheh
16th May 2011 (#)

Thanks for your post on metaphorical use of colors in the construction of expressions.

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