Posted by ESC on February 05, 2000
In Reply to: "Color me blue" posted by Geri on February 05, 2000
: where did this expression come from, and what does it mean?
BLUES -- Regarding "the blues" as in depression or the music, the "Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins" by William and Mary Morris says it's believed this expression came from "...an abbreviation of 'blue devils' -- hallucinations, like pink elephants, popularly believe to accompany delirium tremens...the term blue in the sense of melancholy, depressed or despondent has been an element of slang, especially black slang, since midway through the past century..."
This is from an online dictionary: Blue Devils or A fit of the blues. A fit of spleen, low spirits. Roach and Esquirol affirm, from observation, that indigo dyers are especially subject to melancholy; and that those who dye scarlet are choleric. Paracelsus also asserts that blue is injurious to the health and spirits. There may, therefore be more science in calling melancholy blue than is generally allowed. The German blei (lead) which gives rise to our slang word blue or blucy (lead) seems to bear upon the "leaden down-cast eyes" of melancholy. From the First Hypertext Edition of The Dictionary of Phrase and Fable at http://www.bibliomania.com/Reference/PhraseAndFable/index.html THE DICTIONARY OF PHRASE AND FABLE BY E. COBHAM BREWER, FROM THE NEW AND ENLARGED EDITION OF 1894