blue

Definitions

General Science

  • noun the colour which is that of a clear unclouded sky in the daytime

Food

  • When applied to meat means the surface just seared brown whilst the interior is still raw
  • When applied to cheese means inoculated with various species of Penicillium using needles, to encourage the growth of the blue-green fungus within the cheese

Politics

  • noun the colour traditionally used by the British Conservative Party and other parties of the right

Publishing

  • noun a proof taken from a film contacted on coated paper.

Slang

  • noun a violent row or fight
  • noun an amphetamine tablet. A term from the 1960s when these tablets were light blue in colour and also known as ‘French blues’ and ‘double-blues’. (Strictly speaking blues were tablets of drinamyl, a mixed amphetamine and barbiturate preparation, prescribed for slimmers.).
  • noun a police officer. A rare usage, but occasionally heard in all English-speaking countries; it is usually in the plural form.
  • noun a red-headed man. A nickname mentioned in Rolf Harris’s well-known song ‘Tie me kangaroo down, sport!’.

Theater

  • see border.

Origin & History of “blue”

Colour terms are notoriously slippery things, and blue is a prime example. Its ultimate ancestor, Indo-European *bhlēwos, seems originally to have meant ‘yellow’ (it is the source of Latin flāvus ‘yellow’, from which English gets flavine ‘yellow dye’ (19th c.)). But it later evolved via ‘white’ (Greek phalós ‘white’ is related) and ‘pale’ to ‘livid, the colour of bruised skin’ (Old Norse has blá ‘livid’). English had the related blāw, but it did not survive, and the modern English word was borrowed from Old French bleu. this was descended from a common romance *blāvus, which in turn was acquired from prehistoric Germanic *blǣwaz (source also of German blau ‘blue’).
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