Do you want to sound more like a native speaker? Using common Idioms will help you do that. I made this list of 30 color idioms just for you – lots of natural example sentences to help you use these expressions right away.
- Show (one’s) (true) colors
- (Do something) with flying colors
- In living color
- Black market
- Pot calling the kettle black
- Black and white
- Grey area
- White as a Ghost
- White lies
- White collar
- In the red
- To catch someone red-handed
- To see red
- Red herring
- A red flag
- Red hot
- Red in the face
- Roll out the red carpet
- To be tickled pink
- Pink Slip
- Black and Blue
- Out of the blue
- Once in a blue moon
- Feel blue
- Blue collar
- To get the green light
- Have a green thumb
- The grass is always greener on the other side
Idioms with color
Show (one’s) true colors – (often disapproving) your real character, rather than the one that you usually allow other people to see
- It was only after we move in together that he showed me his true colors. He was not the person I thought he was.
(Do something) with flying colors – very well; with a very high mark
- I passed my final exam with flying colors. Let’s celebrate!
In living color – In the bright, natural colors or a very detailed description of real-life
- The book portrays Mark Twain’s life in living color.
Off-color – Rude or vulgar; likely to offend others, especially due to being sexually explicit or suggestive.
- He told some off-color jokes at the party which didn’t win him any friends.
Idioms with BLACK/GREY
Black market – a place or system where things are sold illegally
- There is a large black market for exotic pets in big cities. You can buy spiders, snakes, and other exotic animals illegally to keep as pets.
Blackout – Blackouts can refer to a loss of power for electricity in an area or a loss of consciousness can a human being
- The huge thunderstorm caused a city-wide blackout last night. It took repair crews 6 hours to restore power.
- Leslie drank way too much and blacked out before midnight.
The pot calling the kettle black – This expression is used for someone who criticizes someone for something that they themselves are also doing
- Eric had the nerve to criticize my driving, he got into 3 driving accidents just last year. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.
In the black – To have money; To have made more money than you have spent
- The company is in the black for the third year in a row. Great work everyone!
Black and white – A choice between two things that are direct opposites; The difference should be easy to see and understand
Grey area – an area of a subject or situation that is not clear or does not fit into a particular group and is therefore difficult to define or deal with (LINK)
- Not all issues are black and white. There are often some grey areas that need to be explored. (Many issues do not have such an easy solution. There needs to be a more careful examination of the issue.)
Idioms with WHITE
White as a Ghost – Extremely and unnaturally pale, due to shock or illness
- When I visited you in the hospital you were white as a ghost. You look much better now, I’m glad to see you looking healthy again.
White lies – a small lie, especially one that you tell to avoid hurting somebody
- I told a little white lie so she wouldn’t worry about me unnecessarily.
White collar – working in an office, rather than in a factory, etc.; connected with work in offices
- After University, Jared got a white collar job with a big Insurance company.
Idioms with RED/PINK
In the red – to owe money because you have spent more than you have made
- The company is in the red this month. We need to turn things around we may have to lay off some staff.
To catch someone red-handed – to catch somebody in the act of doing something wrong or committing a crime
- The police caught him red-handed. They found the stolen property in his house after cameras showed him leaving the scene of the crime.
To see red – To be very angry
- After I read the newspaper article about the government mishandling public funds, I was seeing red.
Red herring – an unimportant fact, idea, event, etc. that takes people’s attention away from the main topic of a discussion
- The politician was losing the debate so he tried to throw a red herring into the conversation. It didn’t work.
A red flag – Red flags are used to indicate danger. We often callsigns of future trouble a red flag
- On our second date she tried to tell me what food I had to order at the restaurant. This was a red flag and I knew it was time to stop dating her.
Red hot – This expression comes from metal that has been heated to such a high degree that it turns red. Red hot is now used to describe a trend or tissue that is very popular at the moment and is being talked about by many people
- The president needs to do more to repair our economy. This is a red hot issue among voters now.
*NOTE “White Hot” can be used the same way.
- This is a white hot issue among voters now.
Red in the face – Showing signs of embarrassment, shame, or humiliation
- I made several mistakes during the speech contest, and by the time it was done I was quite red in the face.
Roll out the red carpet – Literally, to unroll a large red rug or carpet for a very distinguished or important guest to walk on. As an Idiom, it means to welcome someone with great or elaborate hospitality, ceremony, or fanfare
- I haven’t been back to Canada in five years so when I visit this summer I’m sure my family will roll out the red carpet. It will be nice to see everyone again.
To be tickled pink – to be very pleased
- I gave my girlfriend some roses and she was tickled pink.
Pink Slip – A letter or notice given to someone telling them that they are fired
- Randy is really sad today, you got the pink slip from work yesterday. Now he has to find a new job.
Idioms with BLUE
Black and Blue – Covered with bruises (= blue, brown or purple marks on the body)
- My friend took me rock climbing yesterday. It was fun but I’m black and blue today.
Out of the blue – Happening suddenly, with no warning
- I haven’t spoken with Michael in 3 years, and then out of the blue, he sends me an invitation to his wedding.
The Idiom Out of Nowhere has the same meaning – LINK
Once in a blue moon – Very rarely
- I don’t drink but once in a blue moon, I’ll have a beer with some friends at a social event.
Feel blue – To feel down or depressed
- It’s raining again today. This weather always makes me feel blue.
Blue collar – connected with people who do physical work in industry
- Blue collar workers keep this country running and deserve our appreciation.
Idioms with GREEN
To get the green light – To get permission to go ahead with something
- We will start a new division of the company as soon as we get the green light from the board of directors.
Have a green thumb – Be good at gardening
- My mother’s gardens are always beautiful. She has a real green thumb.
The grass is always greener on the other side – Someone else’s situation always seems better than yours from your perspective. This expression comes from people admiring their neighbor’s yard, across the fence, which always seems to look nice than their own.
- People who live near the beach must have great lives. I wish I lived somewhere tropical, but you know what they say, the grass is always greener on the other side.
*This expression can be used to remind us that our situation is not so bad and we should appreciate the good things on our side of the fence.
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Take a look at these other GREAT Idiom blog posts.