Blue Talk - Our language is nothing if not colorful

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Blue Talk

by Hugh Rawson

Our language is nothing if not colorful. A person can be said to be green with envy. Overly fancy writing is called purple prose. A coward is yellow or even yellow-bellied. A formal report may be described as a white paper. The demand for money in return for silence constitutes blackmail. Red-light districts are inhabited by prostitutes, who were known well into the twentieth century as scarlet women. The letter in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel, The Scarlet Letter, was an A for Adultery. To be in a brown study is to be deep in thought. And so it goes.

But nothing beats blue, which probably appears in more phrases than all other colors combined. Moreover, blue has widely diverse meanings, both positive and negative. ... Read more