Green light

The idiom to green light something has been in use for about a century. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase, or phrasal verbs that have a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. These figures of speech often use descriptive imagery, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often colloquialisms or descriptors that are spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase or expression that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom or other parts of speech is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions that native speakers understand such as in a blue moon, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, chin up, eye to eye, barking up the wrong tree, bite the bullet, beat a dead horse, hit the nail on the head, kicked the bucket, blow off steam, jump on the bandwagon, piece of cake, hit the sack, and raining cats and dogs, as they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker. It is possible to memorize a list of idioms, but it may be easier to pay attention to the use of idioms in everyday speech, where peculiar imagery will tell you that the expressions should not be taken literally. We will examine the meaning of the idiomatic phrase green light, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

To green light something means to give permission to proceed with an idea or task, to begin a project, to start something new. Green light may be used as a verb phrase or a noun. One may green light a project or one may give someone the green light to start a project. Green light is sometimes seen with a hyphen, as in green-light. Related phrases are green lights, green lit, green lighting, though these forms are most often seen with a hyphen. The expression green light is a clear reference to traffic signals–green means go, and red means stop. However, this color scheme was first used for signals in the railroad industry in the 1800s. The idiom to green light came into popular use in the 1930s when the proliferation of automobiles made it necessary to establish universal driving rules.


Griezmann Reportedly Gives FC Barcelona Green Light For Neymar Swoop As PSG Chase Renovation (Forbes)

Kevin Hart’s Night School gets the green light from NBC on a pilot order for TV series adaptation (The Daily Mail)

I wrote about East Village Green in October 2016 and am pleased to see that the park now has a green light to break ground in the summer of 2020, with the first phase ready by summer of 2022. (San Diego Downtown News)

Parkland Library gets green light to go out to bid on addition that would double space (The Morning Call)

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