Colour Idioms

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Idioms are an everyday occurrence in English conversation. They add colour, description and often humour to our language. As we have seen from previous blog posts there are idioms of all kinds; from business idioms to music idioms, house and home idioms to water idioms, and many more. The list goes on. In today’s blogpost we are looking at idioms that use colours.

Check out these five colourful idioms and see if you can use them to brighten up your English conversations this week.

1.Out of the blue

If something happens out of the blue, it happens randomly and without warning.

“That storm came out of the blue and I didn’t have an umbrella.”

“I wasn’t expecting a pay rise. It was completely out of the blue! I’m delighted!”

2. Green with envy

If someone is extremely envious, we can say that they are green with envy.

“Emma was green with envy when she saw you got a new car for your birthday.”

“I was green with envy when I looked through all your holiday photos on Facebook. It looks like you had a wonderful time.”

3. Caught red-handed

To catch someone red-handed is to catch them in the act of doing something bad or illegal.

“He was caught red-handed while trying to break into the office safe.”

“The policemen caught the thieves red-handed and took them straight to the station.”

4. Once in a blue moon

Something that happens extremely rarely happens once in a blue moon.

“He doesn’t really like clubbing. He only goes out once in a blue moon.”

“I go to the theatre once in a blue moon. I’m not a big fan but I’ve been a couple of times with my wife.”

5. Paint the town red

When you go on a big night out and have a great time, this is called painting the town red.

“It’s Ellie’s birthday tonight. We are going to paint the town red!”

“When I was younger my friends and I used to paint the town red every weekend.”


Now test your understanding! Fill in the sentences below with the correct colour idiom.

1. “I ________ Mathew _______________ last night taking the last biscuit from the tin.”

2. “My grandchildren came to visit us ______________ last weekend. It was a lovely surprise!”

3. “We’ve worked hard all week. How about we go out and _______________ tonight?”

4. “Charlotte was ____________ when she found out that we’re going to Italy next month. She’s always wanted to go.”

5. “I eat ice cream _______________. I just don’t tend to buy it much.”

Discussion Question: (free answer)

  1. Were you ever green with envy over a present one of your siblings received as a child? What was it?
  2. What is something that you only eat once in a blue moon and why? Perhaps it’s something you hate and you only eat it to be polite. Or perhaps it’s something very rare and expensive.

There are so many colour-based idioms! Can you think of any more? Post your answers in the comments below.

You can study lots more lovely idioms in the Intrepid English Academy with our extensive Essential English Idioms course.

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This blog was written by Intrepid English Teacher, Kate.

You can visit my Intrepid English Teacher profile page to find out more about me and add me as a friend!

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