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The meaning and origin of the expression: Colour up

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Colour up

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To blush or turn red in the face.


It's not an especially old phrase and isn't seen in print until 1836, in Frederick Marryat's Japhet in Search of a Father:

"Her ladyship coloured up with rage."

The verb colour was used earlier, as in this example from Samuel Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language, 1755:

"To colour, to blush. A low word, only used in conversation."