In the pink

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In the pink is an idiom that dates back at least the 1600s, but has a very unexpected origin. An idiom is a figure of speech that is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. We will examine the definition of the idiomatic phrase in the pink, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

In the pink is an English idiom that means to be at the peak of health, to be in perfect condition. The expression in the pink to mean to be at the peak of health goes back to the 1500s when the word pink did not refer to a color. At that time, the word pink referred to a certain type of flower called dianthus, still referred to as pinks in the English vernacular, today. Pinks, the flowers, were considered the pinnacle of floral design and so the word pink came to mean anything that was the pinnacle of excellence. The word pink is derived from the Danish term pinck oogen, which translates as half-closed eyes or small eyes, a clear reference to the appearance of the dianthus flower. Unbelievably, the word pink to mean a color was not used until the end of the 1700s, and not in general use until the 1800s.


As a world famous media personality she has good reason to be in the pink. (The Daily Mail)

“He’s in the pink of health considering his age,” Abella said. (The Philippine Star)

He’s in the pink of health, barely sixty years old, and already his life reads like a good novel. (Garden and Gun Magazine)

Want more idioms in your arsenal? Check out some others we covered: