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The theme of my work is “Colour idioms in the English language”.

The aims of my work were:

  • to improve my language;

  • to enrich my vocabulary;

  • to produce a pack of materials for English language classes.

The methods of my work were description and analysis.

What I did:

  • I studied a number of English sources devoted to the problem of colour idioms such as books and Internet information.

  • I systematized and analyzed the facts and materials.

  • I compiled the glossary of colour idioms.

  • I created some exercises which can check up the pupils’ knowledge of this topic.

Idioms are words and phrases that communicate a specific idea or meaning which might not be easy be guessed by looking at individual words in the phrase.

English can’t be considered full of value without idiomatic usage, as the use of idioms is the first sign of a certain language’s developing.

Idiomatic sentences enrich a language and the knowledge of idioms signal that the speaker knows the language on the level of a native speaker.

English is a language particularly rich in idioms. Without idioms English would lose much of its variety and humour both in speech and writing.

Some idioms of the English language have first been seen in the works of writers like Shakespeare, Sir Walter Scott, Lewis Carroll. But the background and etymological origins of most idioms is at best obscure.

Idioms can’t and mustn’t be translated directly as such a brunch of language as idioms is inseparably connected with nation’s mentality and mode of life. The contest usually helps to understand idioms. One way to learn idioms is to put them into different groups.

According to the words that are used in the idioms there are, for example, animal idioms ( to pig out – объедаться), body idioms ( sweet tooth –сладкоежка), clothing idioms ( to keep one’s short on – пытаться сохранятьспокойствие), food idioms ( not worth a bean – гроша ломаного не стоит), weather idioms ( a fair-weather friend – ненадёжный друг), geography idioms ( to make a mountain out of a molehill – делать из мухи слона), sports idioms ( to skate on thin ice – действовать рискованно),house idioms ( like a house on fire – быстро и легкоуспешнопрекрасно), time idioms ( to do time – сидеть в тюрьме), talking idioms ( to talk the hind leg off a donkey – заговоритьутомить многословием), love idioms ( to tie the knot – пожениться), money idioms (the other side of the coin – другая сторонамедали), colour idioms ( out of the blue – совершенно неожиданно). The last group – colour idioms – is very numerous and interesting. That’s why it is worth investigating.

Glossary “Colour idioms”.


to see red – обезуметь, прийти в ярость, в бешенство.

When I hear of cruelty to animals it makes me see red.

to have a red face – покраснеть от стыда или от смущения.

Talking about his love he had a red face.

to be in the red – быть должником

I am overdrawn again. I hate being in the red.

to catch someone red-handed – заставить кого-либо на месте преступления, поймать с поличным.

The manager caught the new employee red-handed taking money out of the box.

to be like a red rag to a bull – действовать на кого-либо, как красная тряпка на быка.

The mention of that man’s name to him is like a red rag to a bull.

to paint the town red – устроить попойкузагулять.

On boat-race night the College students paint the town red.

to go into the red – стать убыточным.

I can’t lend you money. My firm has gone into the red.

a red herring – отвлекающий маневр.

You are not answering my question. You are trying to draw a red herring across the track.

to see the red light – предчувствовать приближение опасности.

As soon as he led the conversation round to borrowing money I saw the red light.

red tape – бюрократизмволокита.

I want to start a new business but the red tape involved is very frustrating.

a redneck – несведущий человек.

Our new co-worker is a real redneck. He doesn’t seem to know anything about life.

to roll out the red carpet - приветствовать кого-либо торжественно, с большим почтением.

When Nelson Mandela visited Washington, they rolled out the red carpet and gave him a great welcome.

to be shown the red card - быть уволенным с работы.

The accountant was shown the red card for hiding company money.

a red-letter day - памятный день, день в календаре.

It’ll be a red- letter day tomorrow.

not a red cent – ни единого цента.

I did all that work for them and they didn’t pay me a red cent.

a red eye – полет на самолете, который взлетает поздно ночью, а приземляется рано утром.

We took the red eye from Seattle to New York.

to give a red face – смутить кого-либо.

We really gave him a red face when we caught him eavesdropping.

to go beet red – покраснеть как рак.

I only had to smile at him and he went beet red.

red ink – долги.

Too much red ink and the company will collapse.

red-blooded – имеющий горячую кровь, темпераментный, любвеобильный.

He is a normal, red-blooded male – of course he wants to sleep with you!

red-hot – свежий, новый, горячий.

Their divorce is the red-hot story in this morning’s press.

red hair – рыжие волосы.

He likes girls with red hair.


once in a blue moon – очень редко.

A thing like that only happens once in a blue moon.

a blue-eyed boy – любимчик

John is a real blue- eyed boy. The team manager always gives him special treatment. It isn’t fair to the rest of us.

out of the blue – совершенно неожиданно, как гром среди ясного неба.

I haven’t seen them for years and then they call me out of the blue.

blue collar – рабочий.

They bought a house in a nice, settled, blue-collar neighborhood.

to burn with a low blue flame – сильно напиться.

He’s not just drunk, he’s burning with a low blue flame.

to cuss a blue streak – грубо ругаться.

When he dropped the brick on his toe, he cussed a blue streak.

to talk a blue streak – говорить без умолку.

Billy didn’t talk until he was two and then started talking a blue streak.

the boys in blue – полицейские.

The boys in blue were round again last night, asking questions.

true-blue – очень верный, преданный.

Tom’s true-blue – he won’t let us down.

to cry blue murder – кричать или жаловаться очень громко.

Readers screamed blue murder when the price of their daily paper went up.

to go into the wide blue yonder – пойти куда глаза глядят.

I have a sudden desire to escape, to go into the wide blue yonder and never return.

Damn it to blue blazes! – Черт возьми!

Damn it to blue blazes, I told you I can’t lend you any more money!

to make the air blue – сквернословить.

Don’t make the air blue in my presence!

blue study – мрачные раздумья, тяжелые мысли.

Blue study again? Don’t be so boring.

to blue-pencil something – редактировать, сокращать, вычеркивать.

Reports on the mistreatment of the political prisoners were blue-penciled by the authorities.

a bolt from the blue – полная неожиданность.

It came like a bolt from the blue that they are getting divorced.

blue in the face – возбужденный, раздухарившийся.

I told him he was making a mistake until I was blue in the face but he wouldn’t listen.

to be in the blues (to feel blue) – быть в плохом настроениихандрить.

The bad weather is making me feel blue.

Things look blue – Дела плохи.

Things are looking blue for Tom these days. His wife has left him.

till all is blue – до бесконечности, сколько угодно.

You can talk till all is blue but I shan’t believe you.

blue book – сборник официальных документов.

He spends all his time reading blue books.

to drink till all’s blue – допиться до белой горячки.

Let him drink till all’s blue. Maybe he’ll understand something.

to blue one’s money – транжирить деньги.

Don’t marry this girl. She’ll blue all your money.

to cry the blues – прибедняться.

I hate people crying the blues.

to give somebody the blues – наводить тоску на кого-либо.

He always gives me the blue, I won’t invite him on my party.

to look through blue glasses – смотреть мрачнопессимистически.

Life’s wonderful. Don’t look at it through blue glasses.

blue water – открытое море.

I see a small boat in blue water Maybe there are people there.

to cry oneself blue in the face – кричать до посинения.

You may cry yourself blue in the face but I won’t buy you this toy.

to look blue – иметь унылый вид.

Let’s go out and have some fun, you look so blue.

blue fear – паниказамешательство.

I feel blue fear when I heard her scream.

blue devils – уныние.

Don’t give way to blue devils, it’s a sin.


grey cells – серые клеточки, мозг.

Use your grey cells to understand it.

grey Cardinal – серый кардинал.

This terrible man is a Grey Cardinal in our country.

grey area – спорный вопрос.

Writing personal e-mail in the office is a grey area that needs to be discussed at the next meeting.

grey pound – экономическая власть пенсионеров.

The only thing keeping this economy alive is the grey pound.


to brown somebody off – надоедатьнаскучить.

You really brown me off!

to brown out – уменьшать освещение.

The lights started to brown out, and I thought maybe there was a power shortage.

to be as brown as a berry – сильно загореть.

She’s as brown as a berry after a month in Greece.

to brown-nose – грубо льстить.

The rest of the class were sick of watching him brown-nose.

to do something up brown – делать что-либо с большим размахом.

Whenever they put on a party, they do it up brown.


to turn purple with rage - побагроветь от ярости.

He turns purple with rage every time when he sees bad marks in my mark book.

to be born in the purple – быть королевским отпрыском, быть знатного рода.

To be born in the purple is not my dream at all.

purple prose – витиеватая, высокопарная проза.

Despite occasional passages of purple prose, her latest novel is still very readable.


the pink of perfection – верх совершенства.

His behaviour was the pink of perfection.

to see the world though rose-coloured spectacles – видеть все в розовомсвете.

He looks at life through rose-coloured spectacles.

in the pink – в прекрасном состоянии(о здоровье).

He recovered completely from his surgery and has been in the pink ever since.

to be tickled pink – быть в восторге.

She was tickled pink that you made the effort to go and visit her when you were in town.

a pink-collar job – низкооплачиваемая работа для женщин.

Most women returning to work after raising children, head for ink-collar jobs in sales and service.

a pink slip – уведомление об увольнении.

It was Christmas time when Miller got his pink slip from the company.

to see pink elephants – допиться до чертиков.

When I got to the point of seeing pink elephants, I knew that something had to be done.


to be yellow  быть трусом, струсить.

Tina was too yellow to go on the roller-coaster!

yellow-bellied – трусливый.

He is a yellow-bellied coward and never is willing to fight for what is right.

a yellow streak – трусость.

Get rid of that yellow streak. Show some courage.

the yellow press – желтая пресса.

I never read the yellow press.

a yellow dog – подлый человек, трус, презренная личность.

Don’t speak to this yellow dog! He betrayed us.


to be green with envy – позеленеет от зависти.

I was green envy. When I heard that she would be going to London for a month while I had to stay and work.

the green light – «зеленый свет», разрешение.

We got the green light to go ahead with the new advertising campaign.

to be green – не иметь опыта быть наивным, доверчивым.

You can tell that he’s never worked as a waiter before. He seems green. He doesn’t know what he is doing.

as green as grass – зеленый как трава.

His face turned as green as grass just before he vomited.

to have green fingers / to have a green thumb - быть хорошимсадоводом.

I’m afraid I don’t have green fingers. I’ve killed every plant I’ve ever owned.

the green-eyed monster – ревностьзависть.

Do you think his criticisms of Jack are valid or is it just a case of the green-eyed monster?

the rub of the green – удача.

This player hasn’t had the rub of the green in the last few tournaments.

to look green around the gills – выглядеть больным.

He was out drinking last night was he? I thought he looked a bit green around the gills this morning.

green stuff – деньги.

I’ve run out of green stuff. Can you loan me a few bucks?

the green belt – зеленая зона.

The city has a policy of increasing the green belt around the city.

Grass is always greener on the other side – Там хорошогде нас нет.

He realized that the grass is always greener on the other side when he saw that his new job wasn’t perfect and had its own problems too.

A green hand / a greenhorn – новичокнеопытный человек.

He is a greenhorn and doesn’t have enough experience to drive the large piece of machinery yet.

to green – обманыватьмистифицировать.

You won’t green me. I know all your tricks.

green wound - свежая, незажившая рана.

I don’t want to talk about it. It’s a green wound for me.

sure as God made little green apples – вернокак дважды два четыре.

I’m as sure as God made little green apples that he’s single.

A hedge between keeps friendship green – Дружба будет процветать, если друзья уважают личное пространство друг друга.

Lynne and I are the best friends, but we often like to spend time apart. A hedge between keeps friendship green.

in the green – в расцвете сил.

He is a man in the green.

to go to the greenwood - стать разбойником, быть объявленным вне закона.

If you do it, you’ll have to go to the greenwood.

green winter – бесснежнаямягкая зима.

It was green winter last year.


whiter than white – белее белого.

I never was convinced by the whiter than white image of her portrayed in the press.

a white lie – безвредная ложь.

Told my boss a white lie and said that I was sick yesterday when actually I wasn’t.

a white elephant – дорогой, но бесполезный подарок.

The new stereo that he bought is a white elephant and he doesn’t need it at all.

to be as white as a sheet / as a ghost, as snow – быть белым как снег.

Marilyn turned as white as a sheet when the policeman told her that her son had been in a car wreck.

a white collar – служащий.

Cities may become one day a kind of reservation for less educated work force while white collars will be enjoying life in smart homes in the countryside.

a white night – ночь без сна.

You look pale. Did you spend a white night?

to bleed someone white – обобрать кого-либо до нитки.

The creeps tried to bleed me white.

to white knuckle something – пережить что-то трудное, угрожающее жизни.

The flight from New York was terrible. We had to white knuckle the entire flight.

a white knight – тот, кто дает деньги компании, чтобы избежать покупки другой компании.

Hope is fading that a white knight will appear to stop the takeover bid.

a white man – порядочный человек.

Tom seems to be a white man.

white fury – неистовство, бешенство, ярость.

I have never seen you in such white fury. I’m even afraid of you.

to stand in a white sheet – публично каяться.

You must tell all the truth when you stand in a white sheet.

white-handed – честный.

We can trust these white-handed people.

to show the white feather – струсить.

He boasted a lot about his courage but when danger came, he showed the white feather.

to whitewash – 1) обелить, скрыть недостатки; 2) выиграть «всухую».

Many attempts have been made to whitewash the man’s reputation. Our team has never whitewashed.

a white crow – белая ворона, редкость.

This new girl is like a white crow in our class.

the men in white coats – доктора психиатрической больницы.

The men in white coats will be coming to take me away if I stay in this job much longer.

lily-white – 1) белоснежный; 2) предельно честный;

3) предпочитающий окружение людей белой расы.

He marveled at her lily-white hands. He’s not exactly lily-white himself, so he has some nerve calling her a cheat! The black family found it difficult to feel comfortable in this lily-white, prosperous suburb.

white-bread – простой, ординарный, скучный.

It’s a movie about middle America – white-bread characters living white-bread lives.

white coffee - кофе с молоком.

What do you prefer – white or black coffee?


to give a black look – гневно взглянуть.

When she saw the broken cup, she didn’t say a word, only gave me a black look.

to pretend / say that black is white – заведомо говорить неправду.

She’ll say that black is white if she thinks it’s to her advantage.

the black sheep – паршивая овца.

The man is the black sheep in his family and is the only member who has not had a successful career and life.

to put down in black and white – написать черным по белому.

I think I understand what you are talking about, but we need to put down the details in black and white.

black and white – четкий ясный.

The rules we gave the kids were black and white. No answering the phone or the door.

in the black – без убытков, с прибылью.

The company has been in the black since they began to adopt many new ideas to cut costs.

to see everything in black and white – судить обо всем однобоко, без нюансов и полутонов.

He tries to see everything in black and white although he knows this is impossible.

to black out – 1) маскировать, затемнять, выключать свет; 2) замазывать текст черной краской, не пропускать, запрещать; 3) засекречивать; 4) на мгновение терять сознание; 5) заглушать ( теле- или радио- передачу).

During the war people in the cities were forced to black out their windows so that the enemy aircraft could not see them. The local papers blacked out news of the disaster. This agent is blacked out. Nobody knows his real name. I blacked out right after the accident. They blacked out the basketball game in this area.

not to be as black as one is painted – не быть таким плохимговорят.

The landlord is not as black as he is painted. He seems quite generous to me.

black and blue – в синяках.

We found the poor guy black and blue near the train tracks.

As black as pitch (as a skillet, as a stack of black cats, as a sweep, as coal as night, as the ace of spades) – черный как солькак сажакак ночь.

After playing in the mud all morning the children were as black as night.

The pot calls the kettle black. – Не смейся горох, не лучше бобов; уж кто бы говорил.

My sister says I dress funny, but if you’ve seen some of the clothes she wears you know it’s a case of the pot calling the kettle black.

a black mark – темное пятно (на репутации человека).

This administrative error will be a black mark on his record.

a black day – несчастливый день.

A bomb went off early this morning. This is a black day for the peace process.

a black eye – синяк под глазом.

I have a black eye where John hit me.

the new black – последний писк моды.

Designers say that brown is the new black.

to swear black and blue – поклясться всем святым.

He swore black and blue he had nothing to do with the missing money.

black diamonds – уголь.

England’s wealth was built up on diamonds-black diamonds.

to get in black books – попасть в черный список.

If Hob doesn’t work harder he will get in Mr. Green’s black books.

to blackmail – шантажировать.

They tried to force the men to give money by blackmail.

a blackleg – 1) штрейкбрехер; 2) шулер.

The men tried to persuade the blacklegs not to work while they were on strike. Don’t play cards with him, he is a famous blackleg.

black art – черная магия.

This film is about magicians and black art.

black as hell – тьма кромешная.

It’s black as hell here. Do you have a lantern?

to look black (black as sin) – выглядеть мрачным (мрачнее тучи).

Mary looks black as sin. Do you know what is wrong with her?

to known black from white – понимать, что к чему; быть себе на уме.

This man deserves respect, he knows black from white.

black hole – карцер.

For such things you can get in the black hole.

black dog – тоска зеленая, дурное настроение, уныние.

I don’t want to go to the country as usual black dog and nobody to play with.

things look black – положение кажется безнадежным.

I don’t know how to solve this problem. Things look black.

black hand – шайка бандитов.

Oh my God! This black had has stolen all my money!

black in the face – багровый (от раздражения или напряжения).

Our father got to know that you missed lessons. Now he is black in the face and waits for you in the kitchen.

a black day – будний день.

Why are you in such a beautiful dress on black day? Do you have a birthday today?

a blackguard – ругатьсясквернословить.

Keep yourself in hand and don’t blackguard! It’s disgusting.

a black spot – опасное место на дороге.

Be careful driving a car, there are many black spots there.

a blackshirt – фашистчернорубашечник.

This blackshirt has beaten my from black and blue.

Black Maria – тюремная карета, «черный ворон».

In 1930-s one could often see a Black Maria near the houses in the USSR.

Analysis of Colour Idioms.

I found about 150 colour idioms and made a glossary.

The black and the blue colours are especially rich in idioms. Some idioms contain one word (to green – обманывать), but most idioms are word-combinations (to be tickled pink – быть в восторге) and even sentences (The pot calls the kettle black. – Не смейся горохне лучше бобов.).

According to the parts of speech there are four groups of colour idioms:

  • nominal phrases ( a blue-eyed boy – любимчик);

  • adjective phraseological units ( yellow-bellied – трусливый);

  • verbal idioms ( to bleed somebody white – обобрать кого-либо донитки);

  • adverbial idioms ( out of the blue – совершенно неожиданно).

The most numerous groups are nominal and verbal idioms (~44% and ~42%).

There are also what we may call partial idioms, where one of the words has its usual meaning, the other has a meaning that is peculiar to the particular sequence. Thus red hair refers to hair, but not hair that is red in strict colour terms.

An interesting set involves the word “white”, for white coffee is brown in colour, white wine is usually yellow, and white people are pink. Yet, white is, perhaps, idiomatic only to some degree – it could be interpreted “the lightest in colour of that usually to be found”. Not surprisingly “black” is used as its antonym for coffee and people (Though again neither of them are black in colour terms), yet it is not used for wine.


To broaden the pupils’ language awareness of idioms one can suggest the following exercises.

  1. Insert the missing element; use each idiom in the sentence.

to cry … murder to see pink …

a … dog to brown …

to paint … red

II. Supply the necessary words.

to swear … (поклясться всем святым)

to do something … (делать что-либо с большим размахом)

to catch … (застать с поличным)

to give … (смутить)

to turn (побагроветь от ярости)

III. Give Russian equivalents for:

a white night

to brown-nose

a redneck

to blackmail

green winter

IV. Recall some adjective phraseological units with colours.

V. Find the right variant.

1) She's the ___ sheep in her family.

a) green, b) white, c) red, d) black

2) They were ___ with envy when they heard about my great new job.

a) pink, b) blue, c) green, d) yellow

3) Susie’s dress looked awful but I told her a ____lie and said it looked great.

a) blue, b) white, c) green, d) grey

4) He sees ___ every time his team loses.

a) black, b) white, c) red, d) yellow

5) She was feeling ___ after she failed her exam.

a) pink, b) green, c) red, d)blue

6) I had no idea you were coming. You came right out of the ___.

a), green b), black c) blue, d) red

7) Do not call me ___! I was not scared at all!

a) green, b) yellow, c) brown, d)blue

8) He’s a really ___-eyed boy in this office. The boss loves him.

a) black, b) brown, c) green, d)blue

9) How can you argue about your salary now? It’s there on your contract in _____.

a) black and white, b) blue and white, c) red and white, d) black

10) I’ve been in the ___since I started going to the gym.

a) yellow, b) pink, c) black, d) red

VI. Give an idiom for each number.

1. successful, profitable,

2. to go out and have a great time,

3. to react with uncontrollable rage against smb. or smth.,

4. extremely timid, cowardly,

5. an area of fields and trees around a town.

VII. Reproduce an episode from the book you are reading, employ colour idioms.

VIII. Using the list of idiomatic expressions given below make up a story (a dialogue).

green stuff

to bleed someone white

a black spot

the boys in blue

black and blue

a blackguard

IX. Think of ten idioms that initiate with verbs.

VIII. Going to the country Tim got into a black spot. Two terrible men appeared on the road and demanded all green stuff he had. The blackguards bled Tim white. The boys in blue found the poor guy black and blue near the forest.

IX. to go into the red

to rollout the red carpet

to burn with a low blue flame

to make the air blue

to brown out

to go to the greenwood

to show the white feather

to give a black look

to know black from white

to look green around the gills

X. 1. a white lie

2. once in a blue moon

3. to feel blue

4. to be green with envy

5. Grass is always greener on the other side.


Idioms are integral part of language which make our speech more colourful and expressive, help us to use English more creatively, encourage us to improve our knowledge.The aims of the work are achieved. I enriched my vocabulary by means of colour idioms and can use them in my speech.The practical value of the work consists in the fact that it can be used at the English language lessons as a means of raising pupils’ interest and developing language guessing skills. One can use the glossary I compiled and check up one’s knowledge doing different exercises.Summing up, we must admit that English idioms are so numerous and rich that we have a large sphere of activity to study them.


  1. Новый англо-русский словарь / Издательство «Русский язык»б В.К. Мюллер, В.Л. Дашевская, В.А. Каплан и др. – 7-е изд., стереотип. – М.: Рус. яз., 2000. – 880 с.

  2. Эккерсли К.Е. Учебник английского языка. В 4 т. Т. 4. – М.:АО «Буклет», 1995. – 320 с.: илл.

West Kazakhstan State University after M .Utemisov.

The report on the theme:

Colour Idioms in English Language”.

Teacher: Kuspanova Bakytgul Maratovna

  • Иностранные языки

The theme of my work is “Colour idioms in the English language”.

The aims of my work were:

  • to improve my language;
  • to enrich my vocabulary;
  • to produce a pack of materials for English language classes.

The methods of my work were description and analysis.

What I did:

  • I studied a number of English sources devoted to the problem of colour idioms such as books and Internet information.
  • I systematized and analyzed the facts and materials.
  • I compiled the glossary of colour idioms.
  • I created some exercises which can check up the pupils’ knowledge of this topic.
Автор Куспанова Бактыгуль Маратовна
Дата добавления 13.12.2015
Раздел Иностранные языки
Подраздел Другое
Просмотров 1096
Номер материала MA-063186
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