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Blue devils, red spiders

Posted by ESC on February 09, 2004

In Reply to: Pink Elephants posted by ESC on February 09, 2004

: : Where did the saying "to see Pink Elephants" come from.

: BLUE DEVILS AND PINK ELEPHANTS -- 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 " 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..."

Also, red spiders and red monkeys. From "Slang and Euphemism: A Dictionary of Oaths, Curses, Insults, Ethnic Slurs, Sexual Slang and Metaphor, Drug Talk, College Lingo and Related Matters" by Richard A. Spears (New American Library, Penguin Putnam, New York, Third Edition, 2001).

Neither source has a date of first use of pink elephants.