Posted by Smokey Stover on March 23, 2007
In Reply to: Blue in the face posted by Steve on March 23, 2007
: What is the meaning of "blue in the face?" How would one use the expression?
It means for a long time, often to the point of complete exasperation, or. as the Oxford English Dictionary has it:
"b. Phr. blue (in the face): livid with effort, excitement, etc. Used hyperbolically.
1864 TROLLOPE Small House at Allington II. xvii. 175 You may talk to her till you're both blue in the face, if you please. 1917 'H. H. RICHARDSON' Fortunes R. Mahoney II. viii. 175 He alone must argue himself blue in the face over it. 1928 N. COWARD C. B. Cochran's 1928 Revue I. v. 10 Beckon and coo Till you are blue, Mermaids have got no dam chance at all. 1934 F. BALDWIN Innoc. Byst. xi. 212 I've talked myself blue in the face to him. 1959 'P. QUENTIN' Shadow of Guilt x. 89 Swear till you're blue in the face that Chuck was with you all day. 1968 Observer 3 Nov. 3/3 I've been looking into..cases of dealers' rings..until I'm blue in the face."
It's mostly used with some form of talking, especially trying to persuade someone who will not listen. "I talked myself blue in the face trying to get her to go with me." "Listen, you can argue till you're blue in the face, I'll never agree with you."