Colour Idioms

Here's the next in our Language Snippets series of brief activities that you can use as fillers at the beginning or end of the lesson, or just if something "comes up" in the course of other work.

This activity could be done in various ways. If students have met colour idioms before, it could be used as a quick revision test. However, if they haven't, how can it be used to help them discover the idioms?
Firstly, you could ask them to read the sentences and discuss with their partner what colour they would expect to fill the blank, by comparison with their own language and the colours it associates with emotions, or by the logical meaning of the idiom (for instance, if someone is pale, then it is logical that the colour might be white), and then elicit their ideas and confirm the answers. However, with some, for example no.8, they may have no reason to prefer one colour over another. Alternatively, therefore, you could ask them initially to try and guess, but then to check the colours in a dictionary which includes idiomatic expressions. They can look first at the colour which they imagine to be the answer, but if they don't find the expression there, look at others. Again, at the end you would elicit and confirm the answers.

Colour Idioms

Colours are often used in idiomatic expressions in English. Here are some common expressions and their meanings - but the colours are missing. Can you guess what they are? You sometimes need to use the same colour more than once.

Example : I saw red = I got very angry

1. I was ......................... with envy = I was very envious
2. What's the matter? You look ................... as a sheet = You look very pale
3. I was tickled ....................... when I heard the news = I was really happy
4. It came out of the ........................... = It was a surprise
5. I’m really ..............ed-off about it = I’m really fed up, annoyed about it.
6. Suddenly she ..........................ed out = Suddenly, she fainted
7. He has ............................ fingers = He can grow plants successfully
8. It only happens once in a .............. moon = It only happens very occasionally
9. This is a .................. opportunity which we mustn't miss = a very good opportunity
10. I was in a ........................ funk = I was very scared


Answers : 1. green 2. white 3. pink 4. blue 5. brown 6. black 7. green 8. blue 9. golden 10. blue


Postscript

I noticed that this article had been mentioned on the forum of thorntree.lonelyplanet and several people hadn't heard of browned-off or blue funk. So I decided to check and googled them both to check that they were current. I was looking for uses from the year 2000 onwards.
Browned off came up a lot in British journalistic contexts. It was often used in headlines as a play on words in articles about Gordon Brown : Blair browned off with Gordon - that sort of thing. But it did occur in other contexts too. And then I did a blog search, and it comes up a lot in blog writing too.
A lot of blog writers also find themselves in a blue funk. But looking at the entries, something that was suggested on the forum but which I hadn't known before was obvious : it has different meanings in US and UK English. The British blog writers were using it as I suggested to mean scared, but in American English it means to be depressed.

Notes

Photo provided under Creative Commons Licence by fooosco via flickr

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