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20 Idioms based on Colours

These are English idioms based on colour and colours. You can also try this Colour Idioms Quiz

Click on any idiom for more information, including example sentences, notes and quizzes.


a red-letter day

A red-letter day is a day that is very important for some reason.

a white lie

If you tell a white lie, you say something that isn't true in order to be polite or so as not to hurt someone's feelings.

a yellow streak

If someone has a yellow streak, they can sometimes act in a cowardly way and not be very brave.

caught red-handed

If someone is caught red-handed, they are caught in the act of doing something wrong such as cheating or stealing.

give the green light

If you give something the green light, you give permission for it to be done, or allow it to happen.

in the black

If a person or a company is in the black, their assets are greater than their debts.

in the dark

If you're in the dark about something, you don't know about it.

in the red

If a person or a company is in the red, their debts are greater than their assets.

kill the goose that lays the golden egg

If you kill the goose that lays the golden egg, you destroy something that has made you a lot of money.

once in a blue moon

If something happens once in a blue moon, it happens very rarely.

out of the blue

If something happens out of the blue, you're not expecting it to happen and you're surprised when it does.

paint the town red

If you paint the town red, you visit bars, nightclubs and other nightspots to have a good time.

red light district

A red light district is the area of a town or city in which prostitutes work.

red tape

Strict adherence to rules and regulations so that a procedure seems to take longer than necessary.

see red

If you see red, you become extremely angry.

see through rose-coloured glasses | rose-colored glasses

If someone sees things through rose-coloured glasses, they see things as being better than they really are.

show your true colours | show your true colors

You show your true colours if you show what you're really like, or you reveal your true character.

with flying colours | colors

If you pass a test with flying colours, you pass it easily and get high marks.

yellow journalism American English

Journalism in which sensational stories are used to boost sales, or biased reporting is used to change the reader's views on an issue. Both of these are unethical.


If someone is yellow-bellied, they are not brave, or they are cowardly.

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