- From ‘red herring’ to ‘white elephant’, these phrases will definitely bring some colour to any essay or story
- Learn what these terms mean and how to use them in a sentence
Need something vibrant to brighten up a dull essay or story that you’re working on? A striking idiom could be just what your writing needs. Not only are we offering you a list of 12 exciting phrases related to colours, but we will also show you how to use them correctly.
1. Red herring
Meaning: a clue or piece of information that is, or is intended to be, misleading or distracting
Example: In most mystery novels, the most obvious suspect is often a red herring meant to lead readers to a false conclusion – this makes the final reveal even more exciting.
2. Red-letter day
Meaning: a day that is pleasantly noteworthy or memorable
Example: Eileen Gu had a red-letter day when she clinched gold at the Olympics.
3. Green around the gills
Meaning: (of a person) looking or feeling unwell or nauseous
Example: When Timothy got off the roller-coaster ride, he was looking a bit green around the gills.
4. Green with envy
Meaning: to be very jealous
Example: Paul’s friends were green with envy after he got the chance to meet Adele backstage.
5. Blue bloods
Meaning: a person of noble birth
Example: The children of the city’s blue bloods typically attend private schools.
Meaning: relating to manual work or workers, particularly in industry
Example: He treats everyone, from blue-collar workers to heads of state, with the same respect.
7. Out of the blue
Meaning: without warning; unexpectedly
Example: I haven’t spoken to Stephen in almost three years, but yesterday, he sent me a message out of the blue.
Silver and gold
8. All that glitters is not gold
Meaning: refers to how the attractive external appearance of something is not a reliable indication of its true nature
Example: My grandmother warned me: all that glitters is not gold. Just because someone is well-dressed, that doesn’t mean they will be the best person to befriend.
9. Every cloud has a silver lining
Meaning: refers to how difficult or sad situations can still have a comforting or more hopeful aspect, even if this may not be immediately apparent
Example: Even though he lost the match, every cloud has a silver lining, and he has gained experience that will prepare him for future competitions.
10. Kill the goose that lays the golden egg
Meaning: to destroy a reliable and valuable source of income
Example: By laying off his best workers, Adrian has killed the goose that lays the golden egg.
Black and white
11. Black book
Meaning: a book containing a list of secret contacts, or of the names of people liable to be punished
Example: Bob has been in Ann’s black books ever since he wrongly accused her of cheating on an exam.
12. White elephant
Meaning: a possession that is useless or troublesome, especially one that is expensive to maintain or difficult to dispose of
Example: The dam has become something of a white elephant as it no longer generates very much energy.