Have you ever been caught red handed doing something illegal?
When was the last time you told a white lie?
What makes you go as red as a beetroot?
Have you ever given anyone a black eye?
When did you last feel off colour?

Are you unsure what these idioms mean? Then scroll down and learn a phrase or two.

Everything looks so much better in colour, do you agree? Even the English language is better with some colour. That’s why I’ve scraped together my favourite idioms and expressions with colours.

Before we begin, you may have seen the word ‘colour’ spelt as ‘color’. This is completely correct, British English spells it with a ‘u’ and American English without. Click here to find out more differences.

black idioms

black idioms

black and blue

meaning – beaten and bruised
example – We spent a week hiking around Nepal. It was great, but we were black and blue after.

black idioms - black and blue

black and white

meaning –  something is clear, straightforward
example – The rules are black and white. If you cheat, you will be removed from the school.

black idioms - black and white

black cloud hanging over one

meaning – having a streak of bad luck, depressed
example – Invite Millie, she needs cheering up. She’s got a black cloud hanging over her head.

black idioms - black cloud hanging over one

black eye

meaning – a bruise around your eye
example – Terry has a black eye; he won’t tell me how he got it.

black idioms - black eye

black market

meaning – buying and selling illegal goods
example – A girl in my uni sold her kidney on the black market to pay for her course.

black idioms - black market

black out

meaning –  faint, pass out, become unconscious
example – I drank way too much last night. I blacked out and woke up in hospital.

black idioms - black out

black tie event

meaning – a formal event where you have to dress smartly
example – I need to hire a tuxedo; I’ve got a black-tie award’s ceremony next week.

black idioms - black tie


meaning – a list of bad, naughty, untrustworthy etc. people
example – I’m on the council’s blacklist, they won’t give me another flat.

black idioms - blacklist

blackmail someone

meaning – force someone to do something
example – My ex is blackmailing me. I have to give him £1000, or he’ll post my private pictures online.

black idioms - blackmail someone

in the black

meaning – have money, not be in debt
example – This time next year I will have paid off all my debts and be in the black

black idioms - in the black

pitch black

meaning – somewhere that is very dark
example – The teacher locked Damon in a pitch-black cupboard for over an hour.

black idioms - pitch black

pot calling the kettle black

meaning – a person criticizes someone for doing something they also do
example – Pot calling the kettle black Lisa. You can’t tell me to stop smoking, you smoke.

black idioms - pot calling the kettle black

the black sheep of the family

meaning – the naughty/odd/different one
example – All my family are doctors, but my brother is unemployed. He’s the black sheep.

black idioms - the black sheep of the family

blue idioms

blue idioms

black and blue

meaning – beaten and bruised
example – We spent a week hiking around Nepal. It was great, but we were black and blue after.

blue idioms - black and blue


meaning – a job which involves manual labour
example – I need a blue-collar job; I like being active.

blue idioms - blue-collar

blue-eyed boy

meaning – a young man who is favoured and treated well by others
example – Damian will get the promotion, he’s the manager’s blue-eyed boy.

blue idioms - blue-eyed boy

bolt from the blue

meaning – something totally unexpected/surprising
example – Tish has resigned, that’s a bolt from the blue. I thought she loved it here.

blue idioms - bolt from the blue

boys in blue

meaning – a slang term for the police
example – The party got a little out of hand. The boys in blue arrived and arrested 3 people.

blue idioms - boys in blue

feel blue

meaning – feel sad, depressed
example – Fred has been feeling blue lately. Do you know what’s wrong with him?

blue idioms - feel blue

once in a blue moon

meaning – very rarely
example – I only see my sister once in a blue moon, we aren’t that close.

blue idioms - once in a blue moon

out of the blue

meaning – unexpectedly, from nowhere
example – My ex texted me out of the blue and asked to get back together.

blue idioms - out of the blue

scream blue murder

meaning – shout and scream very loudly
example – A lady in the shop screamed blue murder when they wouldn’t give her a refund.

blue idioms - scream blue murder

sing the blues

meaning – complain/whine to get sympathy from others
example – Corey is singing the blues because his electricity has been cut off for a few hours.

blue idioms - sing the blues

until one’s blue in the face

meaning – angry, irritated, frustrated, exhausted
example – I complained to the council until I was blue in the face, but they still didn’t sort the problem.

blue idioms - until one’s blue in the face

brown idioms

brown idioms

as brown as a berry

meaning – very suntanned
example – I’m off to Greece for 3 weeks. I’ll be as brown as a berry by the end.

brown idioms - as brown as a berry

brown off

meaning –  keep food uncovered in the oven so it gets brown and crispy
example – I’ll leave the pie in for 5 more minutes, I want the top to brown off a bit.

brown idioms - brown off

gold idioms

gold idioms

as good as gold

meaning – well behaved/obedient
example – The twins were as good as gold, so I let them stay up for an extra half an hour.

gold idioms - as good as gold

golden boy/girl

meaning – a popular, skilful, successful person
example – Henry will get to go to America with the firm. He is the golden boy.

gold idioms - golden boy

golden handshake

meaning – a large sum of money given to someone retiring/being made redundant
example – My dad got a very generous golden handshake. He is going to buy a house in Spain.

gold idioms - golden handshake

golden opportunity

meaning –  a perfect chance, an ideal moment
example – House prices are really low. It’s a golden opportunity to get on the property ladder.

gold idioms - golden opportunity

heart of gold

meaning –  a kind/generous person with a big heart
example – She may look like a witch, but she’s got a heart of gold.

gold idioms - heart of gold

worth one’s weight in gold

meaning – useful, kind, helpful, important, valuable
example – These new machines are worth their weight in gold.

gold idioms - worth one’s weight in gold

green idioms

green idioms

give the green light

meaning – permit/allow
example – The council have given the green light for a new school to be built.

green espressions - give the green light

grass is always greener on the other side

meaning – other people’s lives seem more desirable than your own
example – I’m in a relationship, but I wish I was single. The grass is always greener.

green phrases - grass is always greener on the other side


meaning –  immature, inexperienced
example – The new apprentice is a little green. He needs more practice, but I think he’ll be great.

green phrases - green

green around the gills

meaning – look ill/pale
example – The children looked green around the gills as they stepped off the rollercoaster.

green sayings - green around the gills

green with envy

meaning – very jealous
example – My pals will be green with envy when they find out I have Katy Perry tickets.

green expressions - green with envy

greener pastures

meaning – an improvement on one’s current situation
example – Everyone is leaving for greener pastures; the pay is rubbish here.

green idioms - greener pastures

have green fingers/green fingered

meaning – good at gardening
example – My nan was green fingered. I must get it from her.

green sayings - have green fingers

pink idioms

pink idioms

see pink elephants

meaning – hallucinations caused by drink or drugs
example – Those pills we took were crazy. I saw pink elephants for days afterwards.

pink idioms - see pink elephants

tickled pink

meaning – very pleased/amused
example – Gary is going to be tickled pink when I tell him the good news about his house.

pink idioms - tickled pink

red idioms

red idioms

as red as a beetroot

meaning – really red in the face usually caused by embarrassment
example – I go as red as a beetroot when I have to talk in front of a group of people.

red idioms - as red as a beetroot

catch red handed

meaning – someone sees you doing something bad
example – The diamond thieves got 10 years in prison after they were caught red handed.

red idioms - catch red handed

go red

meaning – your face turns red with embarrassment
example – Paul went red when he forgot his lines in front of the whole school.

red idioms - go red

in the red

meaning – in debt
example – My business is in the red. If I don’t start making money, it will go under.

red idioms - in the red

paint the town red

meaning – go out drinking, dancing, and have a good time
example – I have a major headache! We painted the town red for Johnno’s birthday.

red idioms - paint the town red

red herring

meaning –  a misleading clue
example – There are so many red herrings in the film. You will never guess who the murderer is.

red idioms - red herring

red hot

meaning – something is very hot
example – Don’t go near the iron, it’s red hot.

red idioms - red hot

red tape

meaning – official rules and proceedings that take time
example – I was going to buy an old church to renovate, but there was too much red tape.

red idioms - red tape

red-letter day

meaning – a memorable day as something good happens
example – It’s a red-letter day for Rangers. This time 6 years ago they won the league.

red idioms - red-letter day

roll out the red carpet

meaning –  treat someone like royalty
example – Wales rolled out the red carpet when their rugby team arrived back with the trophy.

red idioms - roll out the red carpet

see red

meaning – become very angry
example – Brett saw red when he caught some thugs robbing an old man.

red idioms - see red

silver idioms

silver idioms

born with a silver spoon in one’s mouth

meaning – born into a rich family
example – I would hate to have been born with a silver spoon in my mouth. I like working for my things.

silver idioms - born with a silver spoon

silver fox

meaning – a handsome grey-haired man
example – Rufus was a geek at school, now he’s a silver fox.

silver idioms - silver fox

silver screen

meaning – the film industry
example – Jane is off to America; she wants to be on the silver screen.

silver idioms - silver screen

silver surfer

meaning – an elderly person who uses the internet
example – I’m teaching my grandad how to use eBay; he wants to be a silver surfer.

silver idioms - silver surfer

other colour idioms

colour idioms

colourful life

meaning – have an interesting and exciting life
example – Poor Ronnie passed away yesterday. At least he had a colourful life.

colour idioms - colourful life

grey area

meaning – not clearly defined, unclear
example – We’re not sure who is meant to be doing the ordering, it’s a grey area.

grey idioms - grey area

off colour

meaning – feel slightly unwell
example – The dog has been a bit off colour for a few days. I might need to take him to the vets.

colour idioms - off colour

pass with flying colours

meaning –  pass easily, with a very good mark
example – If I train hard for the next 3 weeks, I should pass my army exam with flying colours.

colour idioms - pass with flying colours

show one’s true colours

meaning – reveal your real thoughts, behaviour, feelings, intentions etc.
example – The new girl soon showed her true colours by breaking into the company safe.

colour idioms - show one's true colours

shrinking violet

meaning – a shy/modest person
example – She’s not a shrinking violet, she works in a strip club.

colour idioms - shrinking violet


meaning – a cowardly person
example – Some yellow-bellied idiot keeps stealing the flowers from my mum’s grave.

yellow idioms - yellow-bellied

Have a little listen to this song which is about ‘true colours’.

white idioms

as white as a sheet

meaning – become pale because of shock, fear, sickness
example – Kayleigh went as white as a sheet when she was getting her tattoo done.

white idioms - as white as a sheet

black and white

meaning – something is clear, straightforward
example – The rules are black and white. If you cheat, you will be removed from the school.

white idioms - black and white

wave the white flag

meaning –  indicate to the other team you surrender
example – We had to wave the white flag. We ran out of paintballs and were 4 team members down.

white idioms - wave the white flag

white elephant

meaning – a useless possession or investment
example – My caravan is a white elephant. The weather is always bad, so no one wants to rent it.

white idioms - white elephant

white lie

meaning – a small innocent lie with good intentions
example – We told grandma a white lie. We said we loved her cabbage soup.

white idioms - white lie


meaning – professionals or office workers
example – All my family are white-collar workers.

white idioms - white-collar

white-knuckle ride

meaning – a scary experience/situation
example – I went on a white-knuckle speedboat ride, I was so scared.

white idioms - white-knuckle ride