Colourful idioms
Colourful idioms

MANY sayings like ʻ大白象工程ʼ (whiteelephant work), ʻ灰色地帶ʼ (a grey area), ʻ白字黑字ʼ (in black and white) and ʻ扯白旗ʼ (raise a white flag) actually come from English idioms. Have you noticed another thing these idioms have in common? They all are related to colours! Many English idioms use colours, so it should be fun to learn!


1. Out of the blue: When something happens unexpectedly, we use ʻout of the blueʼ.

Example: Out of the blue, Michelle decided to get married.


2. Get the green light / give (someone) the green light : A ʻGREEN lightʼ is like ‘permission’ in these two idioms.

a) We just got the green light to begin the new project.
b) My boss has given me the green light to begin the new project.

3. The grass is always greener on the other side: WE say this when think things are better with other people, though this is not always true.

Example: I used to envy Richard’s class grades until I realised how hard he had to work to maintain them. Well, the grass is always greener on the other side.


4. White as a ghost: THIS describes someone’s pale face because he or she is ill or afraid.
Example: The mother was as white as a ghost when she saw her son nearly got hit by a car!

5. Raise a white flag / wave a white flag: BOTH indicate that you have been defeated and you want to give up.

Example: The soldiers raised / waved a white flag and surrendered to the enemy.

6. White elephant: THIS means something troublesome to own or maintain.
Example: The new airport is such a white elephant; it costs lots of money but nobody even wants to use it.

7. White lie: THIS is a harmless lie told to be polite or to avoid hurting

Example: When I told her that her red dress suits her it was a white lie since I do not want to upset her.someoneʼs feelings.


8. Black and white: IT means‘officially’ butit also means ‘either good or bad’, implying something has been oversimplified.

a) Let us make our agreement in black and white.
b) Kids tend


9. A grey area: WE say this when something is not clearly defined.

Example: Whether or not we should pay the housing tax is a grey area.


10. Roll out the red carpet: WHEN greeting a person with great respect; when giving a big welcome to someone, we can use this idiom.

Example: The government rolled out the red carpet when the politician came to visit.


11. Yellow-bellied: YOU use this phrase to describe someone who is cowardly and timid.

Example: The man is yellow-bellied and is never willing tofight for what is right.