Special Sub-Topic: Green Thumbs and Red Carpets
|If someone says to me that I have been talking a blue streak what have I been doing?|
Talking incessantly. To talk a blue streak is to talk rapidly and incessantly. The phrase possibly arose as a reference to the speed of a bolt of lightning, which is often seen as a blue streak. Another school of thought is that it refers to turning blue through lack of oxygen when you talk so much you fail to pause for breath.
|My neighbour says I have a green thumb. What is she saying about me?|
I am a good gardener. If you have a green thumb, or green fingers, then you are good at getting plants to grow. According to "Old Farmers Almanac" the origin lies with King Edward I of England. He was so fond of fresh green peas that several people were employed just to shell them for him. A prize went to the person who had the greenest thumb as that showed they had shelled the most.
|Things you see that aren't really there, especially if you happen to have had a few drinks, are referred to as what colour elephants?|
Pink. To see pink elephants is to have a drunken hallucination, although not necessarily about elephants. The first recorded use of the phrase comes in the Jack London book "John Barleycorn" published in 1913.
|A friend and I have decided to go out and paint the town red. What are we going to do?|
Go out and have a good time. To paint the town red is to go out on a larger than normal spree. The origins appear to lie in a fox hunt back in 1837. The successful hunters found some tins of red paint laying around and used these to daub paint over several buildings in Melton Mowbray as they celebrated their good day out.
|To avoid hurting someone's feelings we sometimes tell what colour lie?|
White. We tell white lies with good intentions. Usually to avoid upsetting or hurting someone. Black lies on the other hand are told with bad intentions, usually to deceive or defraud. According to the "Oxford English Dictionary" the phrase white lie has been in use since at least 1741.
|Jealousy is often referred to as what colour eyed monster?|
Green. Green has been associated with jealousy since Shakespeare's time. He referred to it in both "The Merchant of Venice" and "Othello". There is no written record of green being associated with jealousy prior to Shakespeare, so it is possible that he actually invented the association.
|If someone says you are yellow bellied or have a yellow streak what do they mean?|
You are a coward. At one time yellow bellied, or a yellow streak, referred to people who lived in the Fens areas of England. They often had yellow tinged skin due to illness brought on by living in marshy areas. There was no association with cowardice. This seems to have come from America, especially from Western movies, which frequently used the phrase.
|Your boss gives you an instruction, and you ask for it in black and white. What do you want?|
Written instructions. If you ask for something in black and white you want it in writing. The origins of the phrase obviously refer to black writing on white paper.
|If you are being treated as though you were a very important person you could be said to be having what sort of treatment?|
Red carpet. This term has come into every day life as a direct reference to the red carpet laid down for important people to walk on. The red carpet always appears at awards ceremonies, movie premieres, and for royalty when they are alighting from transport to enter a public building.
|I am an eternal optimist. I am often accused of looking at the world through what colour glasses?|
Rose tinted. The origin of this idiom is unknown, but it dates back quite a long way. The concept of a rosy picture or a rosy glow was known as far back as the 17th century. Red roses are the colour of romance so to see the world through glasses the colour of romance is about as optimistic as you can get.
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