black and white, black out, black sheep, in the black
appear/happen out of the blue, blue pencil something, blue-eyed boy, bolt from the blue, look / feel blue, blue in the face, once in a blue moon, men/boys in blue
be browned off
be colourless, be off colour, give/lend colour to, highly coloured report, in his true colours, in one’s true colours, with flying colours, paint in bright/dark colours
be green, green with envy, give someone the green, get the green light, grass is always greener on the other side, green belt, light green thumb
golden opportunity, golden handshake, golden boy
be shown the red card, be in the red, catch someone red-handed, look through rose-coloured/tinted spectacles, see red, red tape, see the red light, paint the town red light, roll out the red carpet, redneck Silver
as white as a sheet, white elephant, white as a ghost, white lie, white-collar worker
yellow-bellied, yellow streak
black and white
MEANING: think of everything or judge everything as either good or bad
” He tries to see everything in black and white although he knows
this is impossible.”
MEANING: 1. to darken by putting out or dimming electric lights 2. to lose consciousness
1. During the war people in the cities were forced to black out their windows so that the enemy aircraft could not see them. 2. Suddenly the man blacked out during the parade and had to be helped to a quiet place.
black sheep (of the family)
MEANING: a person who is a disgrace or embarrassment to a family or group
The man is the black sheep in his family and is the only member who has not had a successful career and life.
in the black
MEANING: successful or profitable
The company has been in the black since they began to adopt many new ideas to cut costs.
to appear/happen out of the blue
1. to arrive unexpectedly, usually after a long absence. 2. to happen very suddenly and unexpectedly
1. “My brother suddenly appeared out of the blue yesterday. We hadn’t seen him for years.”
2. “I was driving home when out of the blue a deer jumped out in
front of my car. I braked just in time to avoid it. We were both very
lucky not to be hurt.”
to blue pencil something
MEANING: to censor something.
”Reports on the mistreatment of the political prisoners were blue pencilled by the authorities”
a blue-eyed boy
MEANING: critical description of a boy/young man who has been singled
out for special favours by someone in authority. EXAMPLE:
”John is a real blue-eyed boy. The team manager always gives him special treatment. It isn’t fair to the rest of us.”
a bolt from the blue
MEANING: some unexpected bad news.
“It came like a bolt from the blue that they are getting divorced.”
to look / feel blue
MEANING: – to look / feel depressed or discontented.
“Things are looking blue for Tom these days. His wife has left him.”
blue in the face
MEANING: to make a huge but vain effort to win a person’s agreement.
“I told him he was making a mistake until I was blue in the face but he wouldn’t listen.”
once in a blue moon
MEANING: to occur extremely rarely or only once in a life-time. EXAMPLE:
”My brother only rings home once in a blue moon. I wish he would ring our parents more often”
men/boys in blue
MEANING: the police because of the colour of their uniforms. EXAMPLE:
“Let’s get out of here! The boys in blue are coming.”
to be browned off
MEANING: to be bored, annoyed at something
I’m browned off with this place. There is nothing to do here.
to be colourless
MEANING: to lack personality, to be boring.
“Nothing he said stands out in my memory. I’m afraid he’s a dull, colourless man.’
to be off colour
MEANING: to be not quite at one’s best, to feel queasy or slightly ill.
“She’s a little off colour today because she was up very late last
night and had too much to drink!.”
to give/lend colour to
MEANING: to make (an account, story, explanation, etc.) more credible or more believable.
” The broken window on the ground floor lent colour to her story that
her house had been burgled”
a highly coloured report
MEANING: a report that is exaggerated or biased.
“I read the government’s highly coloured report on the great state of the health services.”
to see someone in his true colours
MEANING: to understand someone’s true character, often for the first time.
”’As soon as he made a fuss about returning her money, I saw him in his true colours.”
to show oneself in one’s true colours
MEANING: to reveal one’s true nature.
“‘When he lost his temper at the party, he showed himself in his true colours”
with flying colours
MEANING: with great success, with distinction.
“We were all expecting him to fail, but he passed with flying colours.”
to paint in bright/dark colours
MEANING: to describe something in a flattering or unflattering way. EXAMPLE:
“My brother pretended he was doing well financially and painted his life there in the brightest colours.”
to be green
MEANING: inexperienced, immature
He is rather green and doesn’t have enough experience to drive the large piece of machinery yet.
green with envy
MEANING: full of envy, very jealous
I was green with envy when I heard that she would be going to London for a month while I had to stay and work.
give someone the green light
MEANING: give permission to go ahead with a project EXAMPLE:
We were finally given the green light to begin setting up the new project.
get the green light
MEANING: receive permission to go ahead with a project EXAMPLE:
We got the green light to go ahead with the new advertising campaign. grass is always greener on the other side
MEANING: a place that is far away or different seems better than where we are now
He realized 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.
MEANING: an area of fields and trees around a town
The city has a policy of increasing the green belt around the city. green thumb
MEANING: a talent for gardening, ability to make things grow EXAMPLE:
She has a green thumb and is able to grow one of the best gardens in our neighbourhood.
a golden opportunity
MEANING: a great opportunity that might never come again EXAMPLE:
This is a golden opportunity to make a business deal with that big company.
a golden handshake
MEANING: a large sum of money paid to a retiring manager or director, or to a redundant worker.
The company chairman received a huge golden handshake on retiring. a golden boy
MEANING: a young man idolized for a great skill, usually in sport.
“David Beckham is the golden boy of English soccer”
MEANING: be very pleased, thrilled, delighted EXAMPLE:
She was tickled pink that you made the effort to go and visit her
when you were in town.
to be shown the red card
MEANING: to be dismissed from your job. EXAMPLE:
“The accountant was shown the red card for hiding company money.”
to be in the red
MEANING: to have an overdraft, to be in debt. EXAMPLE:
”I am overdrawn again. I hate being in the red.”
to catch someone red-handed
MEANING: to catch someone in the act of committing a crime, usually a
” The manager caught the new employee red-handed taking money out of the box.”
to look through rose-coloured/tinted spectacles
MEANING: to see things in a flattering or over-optimistic light. EXAMPLE:
“It annoys me that she sees everything through rose-coloured
she would feel differently if she had to live there.”
to see red
MEANING: to react with uncontrollable rage against someone or something.
“John saw red when he saw his girlfriend laughing with another guy.”
MEANING: bureaucratic delay, excessive attention to rules and regulations, often resulting in injustice to the ordinary citizen. EXAMPLE:
“I want to start a new business but the red tape involved is very frustrating.”
to see the red light
MEANING: to recognize approaching danger, the red light being a danger signal.
“When the doctor warned his patient that further drinking would
damage his liver, the man saw the red light and quit.”