Colour! Colour! which colour do you choose?’ is a favourite game of most children because every child likes colour. Everyone has a favourite colour and it is said that our liking for a particular colour reveals our personality. ‘Colour’ has been one of the most frequently used words for decades. The word ‘colour’ has many different meanings and is used figuratively. A report is said to be ‘coloured’ if it is biased and does not contain facts. A person is said to be colour-prejudiced if he/she dislikes people with a different skin colour and treats them unfairly. The term ‘coloured people’, which was used to refer to people who have black or brown skin is not regarded as a politically correct (PC) term. The PC term for a black person in the US is ‘African American’.
There are over a hundred colour-related idioms and expressions in the English language. Here are some idiomatic expressions with no specific reference to any particular colour: with flying colours, to call to the colours, to change colour, to show one’s true colours, to be colourless, to be off colour and to give colour to. The meanings of the idioms with example sentences are given below:
The idiom ‘with flying colours’ means ‘with great success’.
• John prepared for the Indian Administrative Service examinations for two years and as expected, he came off with flying colours.
• We didn’t expect our cricket team to win the match but it has entered the final with flying colours.
The expression ‘to call to the colours’ means ‘to ask someone to join the armed forces’.
• Will you respond positively if you are called to the colours?
• Every year thousands of young graduates are called to the colours.
The idiomatic expression ‘to change colour’ means ‘to turn pale because of fear’.
• The child labourer changed colour when he saw the owner of the industry.
• Some employees change colour when they are called by their employers.
The meaning of the expression ‘to show one’s true colours’ is ‘to reveal one’s true character’.
• The managing director trusted the sales manager and assigned him the work but the manager showed his true colour and disappointed the MD.
• Cricketers belonging to Pune Warriors were considered underdogs before the match started but they showed their true colours and thrilled the opponents. What a victory for Pune Warriors!
We use the expression ‘to be colourless’ to refer to a person who lacks personality or is boring. It can also refer to someone who acts without prejudice.
• No one understands how he was allowed to be a hero in the movie. He is dull and colourless.
• He is the right person to be the judge for the competition. He is clean and colourless.
The idiom ‘to be off colour’ means ‘to be not completely at one’s best’.
• He scored centum in all the tests but he scored only 50 marks in the today’s test. He was definitely off colour today.
The expression ‘to give colour to’ means ‘to make a story, report, etc, very credible’.
• Our English language teacher has the gift of giving colour to any report. No one can doubt if it is exaggerated.