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This month we will look at some common English idioms that use color to express an idea or feeling.
Some people say that lying is always wrong. However, there are “white lies,” which may be harmless or intended to protect someone’s feelings. The phrase is thought to come from Christian culture, which links white to purity. Imagine your grandmother serves you dinner but it tastes awful. Instead of telling the truth, you tell a white lie: “It tastes delicious.”
Most sheep are white, so a black sheep tends to stand out from the others. A “black sheep” is also a person who is considered to be different from the rest of their family or group. We often think black sheep are embarrassing or disreputable. “All the children in my family went to university, but my brother dropped out and now he works in a convenience store. He’s the black sheep of the family.”
In the 17th and 18th centuries, red tape was used to bind important official documents. If you wanted to read the documents, you needed to get permission to cut the tape. Some people didn’t like this; they said the red tape hindered decision-making. “Red tape” is a common idiom used today to describe official rules that may be more complicated than necessary. “My building application with the local government is still not authorized. My lawyer said there was nothing I can do and it’s just the usual red tape.” (Rob Horn)
To be continued…
This article was provided by The Japan Times Alpha.