phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Grey skies thinking

Posted by Smokey Stover on December 06, 2003

In Reply to: Blue sky posted by ESC on December 06, 2003

: : : : From the Independent: Eamonn O'Kane, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, said it [*it* being the concept of schools in the future possessing just one teacher -- the head teacher, what in the US we call a "principal" -- and a plethora of classroom assistants] was "grey skies thinking" and the idea schools could get by with fewer teachers was "idiotic". Where did this phrase come from?

: : : It's the logical inverse of "blue sky" thinking, where one envisions utopia. Distopia is the province of pessimists. I recall working for a company where there were two famous meeting attenders, known as the BOH and the VOD, initials that stood for the Bluebird of Happiness and the Voice of Doom. They could be counted on, double guaranteed, to take opposite sides of every plan. They were both certain they were being totally objective about the subject matter, but made projections based on their genetically driven personalities.

: : Ah, great! "Blue sky" can mean something a bit different (though with similar origins) in the US, where in the 1930s states enacted "Blue Sky Laws" intended to protect investors from unscrupulous sellers of securities -- so that buyers should have verifiable information to rely on rather than mere optimism and flim-flam assurances.

: From Merriam-Webster online:

: Main Entry: blue-sky
: Pronunciation: 'blü-'skI
: Function: adjective
: Date: 1906
: 1 : having little or no value
: 2 : not grounded in the realities of the present

: I have heard the second meaning used in the U.S. but with a slightly different twist. It is a type of "brainstorming." Freeing up one's thinking by considering all wild possibilities without limitations. The sky is the limit. If you had tons of money and unlimited possibilities, what would you do? "Let's 'blue sky' this idea."

SS: When I see a noun-phrase used as a modifier I find it easier to parse if the elements of the noun-phrase are connected by hyphens, i.e., Grey-skies thinking, or Blue-sky laws.