Rose-colored glasses

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The idiom rose-colored glasses has been in use since at least the 1840s, though its exact origin is in dispute. We will examine the definition of the expression rose-colored glasses, where it most probably came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

Rose-colored glasses describes an optimistic, cheerful way of looking at life. One is said to see life through rose-colored glasses, look at life through rose-colored glasses, to be wearing rose-colored glasses, etc. Rose-colored glasses does not describe physical eyeglasses with lenses made of colored glass. Rather, it describes a disposition that is upbeat, hopeful, brimming with optimism and positive thinking. Someone who looks at things through rose-colored glasses looks on the bright side, sees the glass half full and looks for a silver lining in all things. He will see the world as a good place. Positive psychology is a new field of study dedicated to studying the optimist and optimism, and how that type of personality and philosophy can lead a person to live longer, have more confidence,  improve one’s mood and attitude and achieve happiness. The psychologist Martin Seligman began the positive psychology movement in 1998, when he was installed as the president of the American Psychological Association. Researchers have discovered that those who think positively and have the ability to believe in the possibility of a good outcome from a bad situation, rather than dwell on negativity and pessimism, tend to succeed. A cynic may reject this idea, believing that to look at life through rose-colored glasses creates unrealistic expectation. One particular instance where this may be true is the phenomenon of nostalgia. Looking back at the past through rose-colored glasses often means forgetting the bad things that happened in the past. Some people may reminisce about the “good old days”, not remembering that every place and time has its positive attributes as well as its drawbacks.  Interestingly, scientists have discovered that eyewear with lenses with a pink tint can be helpful for someone suffering from a migraine. There are several theories as to the origin of the term rose-colored glasses, including the idea that map-makers once used rose petals to clean the lenses of their glasses. The idiom is most probably derived from the word rosy, which came into use during the latter half of the 1700s to mean cheerful or to be optimistic. Other related idioms are rose-colored spectacles, rose-tinted glasses, rose-tinted spectacles. Note that in all of these idioms, the word rose-colored is hyphenated.


He may need to get us to take off our rose-colored glasses and see the blemishes that are present. (The Rockdale Newton Citizen)

We needed to see businessmen in clear daylight, not through the rose-colored spectacles of some “invisible hand.” (Forbes Magazine)

The rose-tinted spectacles are just as common among the older Labour voters in the North (who remember those glorious days when the TUC mattered) as they are among older Tories in the shires (who miss doorstep milk and deferential tradesmen). (The Evening Standard)

“Sometimes you have rose-tinted glasses and people seem nicer than they really were, but in Dod’s case it was true, he really was just a wonderful man, and really good with people.” (The Press and Journal)