English Idioms - Color

black and white

- thinking of everything or judging everything as either good or bad

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

black out

- darken by putting out or dimming electric lights

During the war people in the cities were forced to black out their windows so that the enemy aircraft could not see them.

black out

- prevent or silence information or communication

The government decided to black out all of the information related to the political prisoner.

black out

- lose consciousness

Suddenly the man blacked out during the parade and had to be helped to a quiet place.

black sheep (of the family)

- a person who is a disgrace to a family or group

The man is the black sheep in his family and is the only member who has not made a success of his life.

blue in the face

- very angry or upset, excited and very emotional

He argued with her until he was blue in the face.

brown bag it

- take a lunch to work

I have had to brown bag it every day this week as the company cafeteria is closed for repair work.

catch (someone) red-handed

- catch someone in the middle of doing something wrong

The woman was caught red-handed at the store trying to steal some cosmetics.

give someone the green light

- give permission to go ahead with a project

We were finally given the green light to begin setting up the new project.

grass is always greener on the other side

- a place that is far away or different seems better than where we are now

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.


- inexperienced, immature

He is rather green and doesn`t have enough experience to drive the large piece of machinery yet.

green belt

- an area of fields and trees around a town

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

green thumb

- a talent for gardening, ability to make things grow

She has a green thumb and is able to grow one of the best gardens in our neighborhood.

green with envy

- very jealous, full of envy

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

horse of a different color

- something totally separate and different

I know that he would like to discuss that issue now but it is a horse of a different color and we should discuss it at another time.

in the black

- successful or profitable

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

in the red

- lose money, unprofitable

The company has been in the red for three years now - ever since their exports to Asia decreased by 35 per cent.

look at (see) the world through rose-colored glasses

- see only the good things about something, be too optimistic

He always looks at the world through rose-colored glasses and is never able to understand that some people are dishonest.


- in bad taste, rude, dirty

He told an off-color joke at the party that made his wife very angry.

once in a blue moon

- rarely

We go out for Italian food once in a blue moon although we enjoy it very much.

out of the blue

- without any warning, by surprise

I don`t understand what is the matter. Right out of the blue he decided to quit his job and go and live in Europe.

paint the town red

- go out and party and have a good time

When my cousin came to visit us we decided to go out and paint the town red.

pink slip

- termination notice from a job

I received my pink slip last week and am now looking for a new job.

pot calling the kettle black

- the person who is criticizing someone else is as guilty as the person he accuses

She was criticizing me for not looking for a new job but that is like the pot calling the kettle black. She isn`t looking for a new job either.

red herring

- an unimportant matter that draws attention away from the main subject

Suddenly talking about the strike was a red herring and didn't do anything to deal with today's problems.

red-letter day

- a day that is memorable because of some important event

It was a red-letter day when she finally received her graduation diploma.

red tape

- excessive formalities in official business

Many businesses have been complaining about the amount of red tape that they must deal with in order to get anything done with the government.

roll out the red carpet

- greet a person with great respect, give a big welcome

When the King of Jordon visited Washington, they rolled out the red carpet and gave him a great welcome.

see red

- become very angry

He really saw red last night when I told him that I wouldn`t be coming to work today.

show one`s true colors

- show what one is really like

I know that she doesn`t like me but she was showing her true colors when she began yelling at me on the telephone.

tickled pink

- be very pleased, thrill, delight

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

white elephant

- a useless possession

The new stereo that he bought is a white elephant and he doesn`t need it at all.

white as a ghost

- very pale because of fear, shock, illness etc.

My sister became white as a ghost when she saw the man at the window.

white lie

- a harmless lie (told to be polite or to do something not seriously wrong)

I told my boss a white lie and said that I was sick yesterday when actually I wasn`t.

white sale

- the selling at a reduced price of towels or sheets etc.

We went to the white sale at the department store in order to buy some new sheets before my parents come to visit.

with flying colors

- with great or total success

She passed her course with flying colors and now wants to go out and celebrate.


- extremely timid, cowardly

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

yellow streak

- cowardice in one`s character

He has a yellow streak running down his back and is not a good person to expect to support you when things become difficult. .gif">

Idiom Quizzes - Colors

    Choose an idiom at the bottom to replace the expression in the brackets below:

  1. She was (very pleased) that she was chosen to represent her class at the convention..

    (a) blacked out (b) tickled pink (c) green with envy (d) out of the blue

  2. He is not very flexible and always sees everything (as either good or bad).

    (a) in the red (b) off-color (c) with flying colors (d) in black and white

  3. The federal government finally gave the city (permission) to go ahead and build the new airport.

    (a) the green light (b) a horse of a different color (c) once in a blue moon (d) red tape

  4. Our company has been (losing money) for over three years now.

    (a) rolling out the red carpet (b) yellow-bellied (c) in the red (d) green

  5. It was a (memorable) day when the first person was sent to space in a rocket.

    (a) yellow-streak (b) white-elephant (c) red-herring (d) red-letter

  6. My brother passed the test to become a police officer (easily and with great success) so we were all very happy.

    (a) green (b) with flying colors (c) out of the blue (d) tickled pink

  7. They came and told us (suddenly and without any warning) that our factory would be closing next month.

    (a) out of the blue (b) once in a blue moon (c) with flying colors (d) painting the town red

  8. Her mother (was very angry) when she came home last night at 3 o`clock in the morning.

    (a) rolled out the red carpet (b) saw red (c) showed her true colors (d) looked at the world through rose-colored glasses

  9. He argued with his wife until he was (very angry) but still she wouldn`t agree with him.

    (a) brown bagging it (b) in the black (c) blue in the face (d) a pot calling the kettle black

  10. I go to the swimming pool only (rarely) although I love to swim.

    (a) catching someone red-handed (b) with flying colors (c) in the red (d) once in a blue moon