There are so many different idioms in English, and we think that learning idioms is a great way to learn a language! If you learn idioms, you can learn the way that people speak to each other on a daily basis (regularly, every day). In English, there are a number of color idioms that come up (are said) frequently. If you’re not a native speaker and you heard these idioms, you may not know exactly what the person means right away! But don’t worry, we’re here to help.

Color idioms are said all the time, so it’s important to know some of the most popular ones. If you’re curious to learn more about the English language and to speak like a native, here are some of the most-used color idioms in English.

Red tape (ˈrɛd ˈteɪp)

Have you ever had to deal with government departments? Maybe when you’re renewing your passport or getting a visa to visit a foreign country. If you have, then you have most likely had to deal with red tape. Red tape is one of the color idioms used to talk about dealing with (working with) government agencies and how they stick to (stay with) rules, laws, and formalities. Do you have to fill out a lot of forms? That’s red tape. Can you only turn in a certain form with two other specific forms? That’s red tape. Red tape can be really confusing and frustrating to deal with, especially if you’re in a foreign country!

For example:

  • When my cousin lived in Vietnam, he said that he actually missed the red tape in America, since government agencies are much more formal here.
  • Getting a visa would be so much easier if it wasn’t for all this red tape! I feel like they make it so difficult for no reason.

Green-eyed monster (ˈɡriːˌnaɪd ˈmɑːnstɚ)

Do you remember a time when you were really, really jealous of someone? If you have, then you might have become the green-eyed monster. The green-eyed monster is a way to describe jealousy, which was coined by (invented by) Shakespeare in his play Othello. If you become the green-eyed monster, it means that something makes you incredibly jealous…so jealous that you become like a monster. Although it’s very normal for people to get jealous, I hope you don’t become the green-eyed monster that often!

For example:

  • Her daughter is so sweet, but when she sees another kid playing with her toys, she turns into the green-eyed monster! She gets so jealous of other children.
  • These red carpet looks are so spectacular, they’re sure to bring out the green-eyed monster in all of us!

Black and blue (ˈblæk ənd ˈbluː)

If someone is black and blue, it means that they are very bruised. A bruise is what happens when you’ve been hit or run into something, and the skin changes color: usually red, then purple, blue, and yellow. If you’ve ever played a contact sport, chances are that you have come back from practice or a match black and blue from running into other players, falling down, or getting hit with the ball!

For example:

  • He comes back from training every week black and blue, but he loves the sport, so he keeps going back!
  • I don’t know how my shin (bottom part of the leg) ended up so black and blue! I must have run into something and not noticed it.

Golden opportunity (ˈɡoʊldən ˌɑːpɚˈtuːnəti)

It’s not very often that we have golden opportunities in life. A golden opportunity is something that you can’t pass up (let go, give up). It could be your dream job. Or it could be the chance to take the vacation that you’ve always dreamed of. If a golden opportunity presents itself in your life, you should do everything you can to take it. It may never come around again (come back)!

For example:

  • Getting a job in another country was a real golden opportunity for her. She had always wanted to move abroad, and wasn’t going to let this chance pass her by.
  • His grandmother told him to never pass up a golden opportunity. If something that he really wanted came around, he should grab onto it with both hands.

To have the blues/be blue (ˈtuː ˈhæv ðə ˈbluːz/ˈbiː ˈbluː)

Hopefully you don’t feel blue that often in your life! To have the blues, be blue, or be feeling blue is one of the most popular color idioms. If you’re feeling blue, or have the blues, you’re feeling very sad. When you’re feeling blue, you may not feel like doing anything at all. And that’s ok! Do whatever you need to to cheer yourself up (make yourself feel better), so that you can be back to your normal self soon. Being blue is just part of life sometimes, and it will pass.

For example:

  • I don’t feel like going out this weekend. I’m feeling pretty blue, so I’m just going to stay home and watch a movie.
  • He had the blues for a few weeks in January. We made sure that he was ok, and said that he could call us any time if he wanted to talk. He started feeling better a little while later!

Do you have any color idioms in your native language? Do you feel that these color idioms give you a better understanding of the English language? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

Did you like this blog? Share it with others! Let us know what YOU think!

Check out these other popular blogs: Banking English VocabularyMusic Idioms in EnglishHow to Use Quotation Marks, or these 10 Common Latin Words in English!

Erin Duffin lives in Hamburg, is an English teacher, blogger, yoga instructor, and hopes that you’re not feeling blue this holiday season!

Looking for more phrases, ways to use English every day, or get the conversation started? Sign up for our newsletter or check out the website!