Concepts that are blue
April 29, 2019 5:40 PM   Subscribe

Related to last week’s question, what are some concepts that are described as blue or associated with the color blue?

So far I have:
  • talking up a blue streak
  • feeling blue
  • singing the blues/12-bar blues/blues scale (etc)
  • blue note
I know I’m missing others. What am I missing?
posted by pxe2000 to Grab Bag (41 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Blue laws.
posted by bluefrog at 5:45 PM on April 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

In comedy, working blue is doing dirty or off-color comedy. It's the opposite of working clean.

What about blue collar? Blue states? (And in general, the tendency to equate Democrats with the color blue.) Blue balls?
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:46 PM on April 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

- blue balls
- "goodbye blue sky"
- "I'll have a blue Christmas without you"
- "It's all over now baby blue"
- big blue marble
- blue moon
posted by jessamyn at 5:46 PM on April 29, 2019

Baby blues
posted by bookmammal at 5:53 PM on April 29, 2019

Outside the US, conservative parties are often identified with blue (eg).
posted by pompomtom at 5:57 PM on April 29, 2019

Out of the blue.
posted by bz at 6:02 PM on April 29, 2019

"Blue bloods"
posted by bleep at 6:04 PM on April 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

"Blue sky thinking"
posted by floweredfish at 6:07 PM on April 29, 2019

Blue blood, blue-blooded
Blue sky thinker, blue sky thinking
out of the clear blue sky

You might like Blue: The History of a Color.
posted by Iris Gambol at 6:07 PM on April 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

Blue-haired old ladies
Talking until one is blue in the face
The Thin Blue Line, boys in blue, etc.
posted by dhalgren at 6:09 PM on April 29, 2019

The police as in "The Thin Blue Line" or "The Boys in Blue."

In video game visual language the color blue is shorthand for "mana" or magic. That's why mana potions are almost always blue, same for mana bars.

In Victoria floriography (i.e. sending messages with flowers) blue flowers were a symbol for secrecy, mystery, intrigue, etc.

Blue in films is often used to show that it is night time/dark without actually filming in darkness, but it is also used to communicate a mood or give a hint of a character's internal life. All kinds of writing about color in film online if you want more info.

Blue is also gendered. Someone might reveal that their child is male with a blue cake, for example.

Blue can indicate wealth or nobility as in "blue blooded." (on preview, bleep beat me to this one.)

Blue power lights have replaced a lot of green ones in my experience. Not sure if that is to the point of being part of blue's identity yet.

Blue is often used to indicate temperature on a gradient of blue to red, where the bluest blue is the coldest temperature.
posted by forbiddencabinet at 6:09 PM on April 29, 2019 [2 favorites]

In German, Blauer Montag (blue Monday) is when you call in sick Monday morning (because you're hung over, or something).

(Also a Fats Domino song he performed in The Girl Can't Help It, an essential 1957 film)

posted by Rash at 6:16 PM on April 29, 2019

The very short book On Being Blue by William H. Gass has lists like these. Here's a brief excerpt and ~1 paragraph more [PDF].
posted by Wobbuffet at 6:16 PM on April 29, 2019 [3 favorites]

Blue has long been associated with Mary, mother of Jesus:

Marian blue: The colour of angels, virgins, and other untouchable things (Paris Review)
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 6:18 PM on April 29, 2019 [3 favorites]

Although some people seem to see some of them as literally blue, I find all of the "blue" dog coats highly conceptual.
posted by teremala at 6:35 PM on April 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

bluebird of happiness
wild blue yonder
& see/hear gil scott heron's "A Talk: Bluesology/Black History/Jaws/The Revolution"
posted by 20 year lurk at 6:57 PM on April 29, 2019

Blue Dog (political)
Blue Dog (art)
Blue Sky Laws regulate the sales of securiites

Blue is often referred to as the color a person turns when they are cold or having difficulty breathing, especially the lips.

Blueing was once used when washing white clothing, and some women with white hair used it as a rinse.

Then of course there are blue jeans.

According to this article, Michelangelo is said to have abandoned a painting because he couldn't afford more ultramarine blue.

I won't start going through all the songs about things that are blue.
posted by bunderful at 6:58 PM on April 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

A blue book is an authoritative guide, register or digest (the Kelley Blue Book as an example - plenty more in the link).
posted by hellopanda at 7:06 PM on April 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

Blue is also the colour strongly associated with the United Nations (its peacekeepers are literally known as the Blue Helmets, for example).

Blue is the default html colour for unvisited clickable links. So it has connotations in UX.
posted by hellopanda at 7:14 PM on April 29, 2019

Here are some reading recs:

The Blue essay from Alexander Theroux’s Three Primary Colors
Bluets by Maggie Nelson
On Being Blue by William Gass

They all are good for this question.
posted by mermaidcafe at 7:28 PM on April 29, 2019 [2 favorites]

Blue movies (may have just been a Canadian term for soft core porn)
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:31 PM on April 29, 2019

Bluestocking - "an educated, intellectual woman, originally a member of the 18th-century Blue Stockings Society led by the hostess and critic Elizabeth Montagu (1720–1800), the "Queen of the Blues", including Elizabeth Vesey (1715–91), Hester Chapone (1727–1801) and the classicist Elizabeth Carter (1717–1806)."

The Russian language has two basic terms for shades of blue: синий/sinii (dark blue) and голубой/goluboi (light blue). When used as a noun, goluboi is a slang term for a gay man.
posted by a certain Sysoi Pafnut'evich at 7:33 PM on April 29, 2019 [4 favorites]

Beaten black and blue
blue plate special
Blue-tail fly
Talk a blue streak
Blue collar
Between the devil and the deep blue sea
Once in a blue moon
posted by Ideefixe at 7:55 PM on April 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

Pepsi Blue!!!!!!!!
posted by calgirl at 8:22 PM on April 29, 2019 [5 favorites]

The Hooloovoo resemble a super-intelligent shade of the colour blue
posted by zengargoyle at 8:34 PM on April 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

Among 20th century French artists, if it's blue that you want, Yves Klein is your man.
posted by Rash at 8:35 PM on April 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

Bolt out of the blue; an unknown unknown.
posted by unearthed at 8:48 PM on April 29, 2019

A blue book exam is (was?) a written exam in college.

Blue ribbon: I associate this with recipes and food stuff, not sure why, maybe it’s a state fair thing?
posted by vunder at 9:02 PM on April 29, 2019

Hottest part of the flame is the blue tip
Blue chips in gambling
Blue chip artists

My pet peeve is when artists describe blue as a cool color. Blue waves are short and reflect at a more energetic wave frequency than long wave red colors. Most artists, even those who teach color theory don't understand this concept, which is a real drawback for their students who must frequently work in electronic media. Arrrrgh.
posted by effluvia at 10:11 PM on April 29, 2019

Dabadee dabada
posted by jozxyqk at 2:17 AM on April 30, 2019

Bluegrass music.
Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.
Blue chip stocks.
True blue.
Blue screen of death.
posted by BusyBusyBusy at 2:37 AM on April 30, 2019

Pale Blue Dot (scroll down to the "Reflections" section for an idea of the concept that embodies beyond the literal subject of the photograph).

Blue light special

Blue flu (although that's really just another use of blue=police as forbiddencabinet describes)
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 3:26 AM on April 30, 2019

Sacrebleu - does this count?
posted by Pig Tail Orchestra at 4:19 AM on April 30, 2019

In crochet and quilting my default background color is shades of blue (light blue, sky blue, denim, navy) with brighter and hotter colors as accents.
In nature the corollary is the blue sky, or the midnight blue of evening, or the reflected blue of oceans and lakes. So there is this perception of large expanses of "blue," and within that space the occasional eye-catching flash of a bird, or a flower, or a fish. If it works in nature, it works in a painting or sculpture or fiber art.
Shades of grey and black, shades of brown, and shades of neutral green (sage and thyme, olive and avocado) are also good "neutrals," but I think accent colors look pretty paired with blue.

Blue seems to be the favorite color, with a lot of cultural baggage thrown in. My own unscientific opinion is that fewer people have some negative connotation with it, so blue became the least-objectionable choice.

Here's an article about the Forbes Collection, including the ultimate hue of blue.
Here's an article on blue dye and its rise from (supposedly) common clothing to Virgin Mary blue and the French fleurs-de-lis in an azure field.
Is it blue? Is it green? There's a color theory for it (of course there is).
posted by TrishaU at 6:52 AM on April 30, 2019

Fun fact - the association of colors is language and culture specific. Several people in this thread have mentioned blue films and swearing up a blue streak, using blue to indicate vulgar or sexual content. But in Spanish these sorts of words are described as green, and a dirty old man is known as a green old man. In Chinese, on the other hand, pornography and related materials are described as yellow.
posted by chainsofreedom at 7:08 AM on April 30, 2019 [3 favorites]

Blueprints? The actual "blue print" (cyanotype) process isn't really used anymore in favor of more modern printing methods, but architectural or engineering plans are still referred to as blueprints.

"Bluing" is also used to refer to a way of marking up parts during machining. This can be used either to flatten rough sides (the side is pressed against a reference surface that's been treated with the marking material such that the high points are covered with dye) or as a layout chemical (it's painted on a part and then cut locations are etched in to the dye). It's also known as engineer's blue, machinist's blue, or the trade name Dykem.

Passivating steel against rust is also known as "bluing" as the final product takes on a blue-black color. This is a very common process in gunsmithing.
posted by backseatpilot at 9:56 AM on April 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

bluenose: (n) a priggish or puritaical person

May or may not be related to the aforementioned "blue laws".
posted by mhum at 10:59 AM on April 30, 2019

In Spanish the term for "Prince Charming" translates to "blue prince" (príncipe azul) . (Granted, this is something I learned in college Spanish as a second-language speaker so more fluent speakers should feel free to correct me.)
posted by capricorn at 11:54 AM on April 30, 2019

Blue-water vessels can sail the open ocean, as opposed to green- and brown-water which must stick closer to shore. A blue-water navy is one that can project naval force throughout the world.

Blue whales are the largest animal known to exist.

Paul Bunyan and Babe the Big Blue Ox

Children's TV shows Blue's Clues (US) and Blue Peter (UK)

Picasso's Blue Period and Rhapsody in Blue

Code blue is a hospital emergency code for a patient needing immediate resuscitation (and the stinger to one of my favorite Simpsons gags).

To scream blue murder

Blue slips in the U.S. Senate judicial confirmation process.

Blue pencils for correcting documents.

Blue boxes, which were used in phone phreaking.

90s one-hit wonder "I'm Blue (Da Ba Dee)" by Eiffel 65
posted by Rhaomi at 9:24 PM on April 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

Related to rhaomi's blue pencil: the blue pencil test is a legal concept in common law jurisdictions.
posted by hellopanda at 11:55 PM on April 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

Maggie Nelson wrote an entire book about blue!
posted by newrambler at 12:45 PM on May 8, 2019

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