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See also: Blue


English Wikipedia has an article on:
Various shades of blue
A Jämthund, which is a dog with blue (grey) fur
A bluefish

Alternative forms[edit]


Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English blewe, from Anglo-Norman blew (blue),[1] from Middle French bleu, from Old French blöe, bleve, blef (blue), from Frankish *blāu (blue) (perhaps through a Medieval Latin blāvus, blāvius (blue)), from Proto-Germanic *blēwaz (blue, dark blue), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰlēw- (yellow, blond, grey). Cognate with dialectal English blow (blue), Scots blue, blew (blue), North Frisian bla, blö (blue), Saterland Frisian blau (blue), Dutch blauw (blue), German blau (blue), Danish, Norwegian and Swedish blå (blue), Icelandic blár (blue), Latin flāvus (yellow), Middle Irish blá (yellow). Doublet of blow.

Possibly related also to English blee (colour), from Old English blēo (colour); but direct derivatives of Proto-Germanic *blēwaz (blue, dark blue) in Old English include: Old English blāw and blēo (blue), Old English blǣwen (bluish, light-blue), blǣhǣwen (blue-coloured, bluish, violet or purple colour, literally blue-hued). There seems to be a parallel connection in Germanic between words for blue and colour, dually exemplified by Proto-West Germanic *blīu (colour, blee) and *blāu (blue); and Proto-Germanic *hiwją (colour, hue) and *hēwijaz (blue, purple).

The sense "obscene, pornographic" is apparently from the colour; various theories exist as to how it arose, including that it is from the colour of the envelopes used to contain missives of the censors and managers to vaudevillian performers on objectionable material from their acts that needed to be excised. (Can this(+) etymology be sourced?)


blue (comparative bluer or more blue, superlative bluest or most blue)

  1. Of a blue hue.
    the deep blue sea
  2. (informal) Depressed, melancholic, sad.
    • 1907 August, Robert W[illiam] Chambers, chapter IX, in The Younger Set, New York, N.Y.: D. Appleton & Company, →OCLC:
      “Heavens!” exclaimed Nina, “the blue-stocking and the fogy!—and yours are pale blue, Eileen!—you’re about as self-conscious as Drina—slumping there with your hair tumbling à la Mérode! Oh, it's very picturesque, of course, but a straight spine and good grooming is better. []
    • 1904, Guy Wetmore Carryl, The Transgression of Andrew Vane, Henry Holt and Company, page 140:
      "Will you play some of the 'Garden' now?" she asked. "I think I should like it. I'm just the least bit blue."
    • 1978, Michael Johnson, Bluer Than Blue:
      But I'm bluer than blue / Sadder than sad.
  3. Having a bluish or purplish shade of the skin due to a lack of oxygen to the normally deep red blood cells.
    My hands were blue with cold.
    The divers got them out of the car just in time – they were starting to turn blue.
  4. Pale, without redness or glare; said of a flame.
    The candle burns blue.
  5. (politics) Supportive of, run by (a member of), pertaining to, or dominated by a political party represented by the colour blue.
    1. (US politics) Supportive of, run by (a member of), pertaining to, or dominated by the Democratic Party. [late 20th c.]
      I live in a blue constituency.  Congress turned blue in the mid-term elections.
    2. (Australian politics) Supportive of or related to the Liberal Party.
      Illawarra turns blue in Liberal washout
    3. (UK politics) Supportive of or related to the Conservative Party.
  6. (astronomy) Of the higher-frequency region of the part of the electromagnetic spectrum which is relevant in the specific observation.
  7. (of steak) Extra rare; left very raw and cold.
  8. (of a dog or cat) Having a coat of fur of a slaty gray shade.
  9. (archaic) Severe or overly strict in morals; gloomy.
    blue and sour religionists;  blue laws
  10. (archaic, of women) literary; bluestockinged.
  11. (particle physics) Having a color charge of blue.
  12. (informal) Risqué; obscene; profane; pornographic.
    His material is too blue for prime-time
    The air was blue with oaths.
    a blue movie
  13. (slang, dated) Drunk.
    • 1847, Jacob Carter, My Drunken Life, in Fifteen Chapters, from 1825 to 1847, page 76:
      My wine I drank and oft got blue / On brandy, gin and whisky too— / Until my reputation gay, / Along with care, was cast away —
  • (antonym(s) of of a blue hue): nonblue, unblue
  • (antonym(s) of having blue as its colour charge): antiblue
  • Tok Pisin: blu
  • Fiji Hindi: bulu
  • Shona: bhuluu
  • Somali: buluug
  • Swahili: bluu, buluu
  • Tooro: bururu


blue (countable and uncountable, plural blues)

  1. (countable and uncountable) The colour of the clear sky or the deep sea which is midway between green and cyan in the visible spectrum and one of the primary additive colours.
    other blue:  
    • 1838 (date written), L[etitia] E[lizabeth] L[andon], chapter XVI, in Lady Anne Granard; or, Keeping up Appearances. [], volume I, London: Henry Colburn, [], published 1842, →OCLC, page 204:
      Lady Penrhyn was quite handsome enough to have spared one ingredient in her cup of fascination, but, unfortunately, having been married in her teens, she expected to live in them, and, never being reminded by the trials to which her sex is subject, of the flight of years, and the inroads of suffering, expected time to stand still, and the first bloom of existence (the blue on the plum) to remain as stationary as her own taste, for the pleasures of flirtation.
    • 2004, David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas, London: Hodder and Stoughton, →ISBN:
      She watches the yachts in the creamy evening blues.
  2. Anything coloured blue, especially to distinguish it from similar objects differing only in color.
    I don't like red Smarties. Have you got a blue?
  3. A blue dye or pigment.
  4. (uncountable) Blue clothing.
    The boys in blue marched to the pipers.
    1. (in the plural) A blue uniform. See blues.
    2. A member of a sports team that wears blue colours; (in the plural) a nickname for the team as a whole. See also blues.
      Come on, you blues!
    3. (baseball, slang) An umpire, in reference to the typical dark blue color of the umpire's uniform. Sometimes perceived by umpires as derogatory when used by players or coaches while disputing a call.
      He was safe! Terrible call, blue!
    4. Sporting colours awarded by a university or other institution for sporting achievement, such as representing one's university, especially and originally at Oxford and Cambridge Universities in England. See also full blue, half blue.
      He excelled at rowing and received a blue in the sport at Oxford.
    5. A person who has received such sporting colours.
      He was a blue in rugby at Cambridge.
    6. (slang) A member of law enforcement.
      • 2022, Jim Malloy, Die, Mother Goose, Die:
        He dialed Kathy to be sure she was okay and see if the blues arrived. She was crying when she picked up the phone.
        “Kathy, honey, I'm here. It'll be okay. Are the police there?”
    7. (now historical) A bluestocking.
  5. The sky, literally or figuratively.
    The balloon floated up into the blue.
    His request for leave came out of the blue.
  6. The ocean; deep waters.
  7. The far distance; a remote or distant place.
    • 1978, Peter Hathaway Capstick, Death in the Long Grass, →ISBN:
      The problem with buffalo as well as most African antelopes as a steady diet is that they have very little marbling or body fat and, after six months out in the blue, one dreams at night of a T-bone steak sizzling in great globules of yellow fat.
    • 2000, Thomas C. Barger, Timothy J. Barger, Out in the Blue: Letters from Arabia, 1937 to 1940 : a Young American Geologist Explores the Deserts of Early Saudi Arabia, →ISBN:
  8. A dog or cat with a slaty gray coat.
    • 2000, Joe Stahlkuppe, American Pit Bull Terrier Handbook, page 131:
      On average, blues and other dilutes have weaker coats and skin problems seem more prevalent in the dilutes.
  9. (snooker) One of the colour balls used in snooker, with a value of five points.
  10. (entomology) Any of the butterflies of the subfamily Polyommatinae in the family Lycaenidae, most of which have blue on their wings.
  11. A bluefish.
    • 2012, Lenny Rudow, Rudow's Guide to Fishing the Mid Atlantic, page 102:
      Blues are about as vicious a fish as you'll find on the Atlantic seaboard — they will continue to slash through schools of bait even after they have eaten so much that they're constantly regurgitating shredded baitfish.
  12. (Australia, colloquial) An argument or brawl.
    • 2004, Tim Winton, The Turning (short stories), Picador UK Paperback edition 2006. Short story, 'Small Mercies' (at p.91):
      "I had a blue with Dad," said Fay. "He wanted to drive us, I wanted to walk."
    • 2008, Cheryl Jorgensen, The Taint, page 135:
      If they had a blue between themselves, they kept it there, it never flowed out onto the streets to innocent people — like a lot of things that have been happenin′ on the streets today.
    • 2009, John Gilfoyle, Remember Cannon Hill, page 102:
      On another occasion, there was a blue between Henry Daniels and Merv Wilson down at the pig sale. I don′t know what it was about, it only lasted a minute or so, but they shook hands when it was over and that was the end of it.
    • 2011, Julietta Jameson, Me, Myself and Lord Byron, unnumbered page:
      I was a bit disappointed. Was that it? No abuse like Lord Byron had endured? Not that I was wishing that upon myself. It was just that a blue between my parents, albeit a raging, foul, bile-spitting hate fest, was not exactly Charles Dickens.
  13. A liquid with an intense blue colour, added to a laundry wash to prevent yellowing of white clothes.
    Synonyms: blueing, bluer
    • 1948, Alec H. Chisholm, Bird Wonders of Australia, page 13:
      It was applied methodically, carefully, resolutely, as in the fashion of a Satin-bird with charcoal, desiccated wood or blue from laundry-bags.
  14. Any of several processes to protect metal against rust.
  15. (British) A type of firecracker.
    • 1781, Frances Burney, Journals & Letters, Penguin, published 2001, page 172:
      Lord Lyttelton's Life by Dr Johnson [] which a whole tribe of Blues, with Mrs Montagu at their Head, have Vowed to execrate and revenge []
  16. (particle physics) One of the three color charges for quarks.
  17. (UK politics) A member or supporter of the Conservative Party.
    He is a true blue.
  18. A blue cheese.
    • 2012, Culture Magazine, ‎Laurel Miller, ‎Thalassa Skinner, Cheese For Dummies (page 55)
      Blues are made via the introduction of molds from the genus Penicillum roqueforti, which are normally added to the milk toward the beginning of the cheesemaking process.
  19. (slang, uncountable) Risqué or pornographic material.
    • 2009 February 25, S. Purcell, Popular Shakespeare: Simulation and Subversion on the Modern Stage, Springer, →ISBN, page 51:
      Improvising freely, he entered the stage with a karaoke set and introduced himself as a 'Bohemian street performer', before launching into a series of clubstyle gags and one-liners, promising 'a bit of blue for the Dads' []
    • 2014 February 5, Charlie Flowers, Kill Order,, →ISBN, page 176:
      Fuzz grinned and nodded at the stage. 'Bit of blue for the lads.' [] The stage was dimly lit, and populated by Nubian slaves and harem girls in artfully draped deshabille.
Further reading[edit]


blue (third-person singular simple present blues, present participle blueing or bluing, simple past and past participle blued)

  1. (ergative) To make or become blue; to turn blue.
    Synonym: bluen
    • 1900 July 8, The Truth, Sydney, page 1, column 6:
      It blows, it snows,
      And blues your nose,
      My toes are all frost bitten
      The weather would
      Quite starve the crows,
      Or freeze the part you sit on.
    • 1921, D[avid] H[erbert] Lawrence, “The Sea”, in Sea and Sardinia, New York, N.Y.: Thomas Seltzer, →OCLC, page 48:
      The dawn is wanly blueing.
    • 2004 November 7, Mitchell Hurwitz and Richard Rosenstock, “The One Where Michael Leaves”, in Arrested Development, season 2, episode 1, spoken by Tobias Fünke (David Cross):
      Michael: As a member of the Blue Man Group? []
      Tobias: Oh, no, no, I’m not in the group yet. No, I’m afraid I just blue myself.
  2. (transitive, metallurgy) To treat the surface of steel so that it is passivated chemically and becomes more resistant to rust.
  3. (transitive, laundry) To brighten by treating with blue (laundry aid).
  4. (intransitive, Australia, slang) To fight, brawl, or argue.

Derived terms[edit]

See also[edit]

Colors/Colours in English (layout · text)
             red          orange              yellow              green              blue (incl.      indigo;
             cyan, teal, turquoise)
             purple / violet
         pink (including
         brown      white              grey/gray      black

Etymology 2[edit]

Uncertain; possibly from blew (past tense of blow).


blue (third-person singular simple present blues, present participle blueing or bluing, simple past and past participle blued)

  1. (transitive, slang, dated) To spend (money) extravagantly; to blow.
    • 1974, GB Edwards, The Book of Ebenezer Le Page, New York, published 2007, page 311:
      They was willing to blue the lot and have nothing left when they got home except debts on the never-never.







  1. bluely

Related terms[edit]