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Purple patch

Posted by James Briggs on June 20, 2005

In Reply to: Purple patch posted by john leske on June 20, 2005

: Where does the expression purple patch come from as in the footballer struck a purple patch by kicking 3 goals in a half?

To have a purple patch means to have an exceptionally good period in, say, that game of football. The origin here is a little obscure but could be based on the fact that Roman noblemen wore purple togas. They were clearly exceptional people, hence the analogy. Alternatively the emphasis may be on the patch since purple and other multicoloured areas were sometimes set into ancient illuminated texts and other ventures in order to make them look more distinguished than they truly were. In Horace's De Arte Poetica he says "Often to weighty enterprises and such as profess great objects, one or two purple patches are sewn on to make a fine display in the distance".

See also: the meaning and origin of the phrase 'Purple patch'.

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