Technicolor yawn is a mid-twentieth century idiom. An idiom is a commonly used word, group of words, or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery or metaphors, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase 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 like an often-used metaphor have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may use slang words or other parts of speech common in American slang or British slang, is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions and idiomatic language such as hit the sack, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, silver lining, back to the drawing board, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, because they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. English phrases that are idioms should not be taken literally. 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 helpful to maintain a list of phrases, common expressions, colloquial terms, and popular expressions to memorize that are used figuratively or idiomatically. We will examine the meaning of the common saying technicolor yawn, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.
Technicolor yawn is an idiom that means the act of vomiting. Technicolor is a type of color processing used in the film business; there are various iterations of the process. The first technicolor processes were experimented with in the infancy of film, but the technicolor process that we know today really came into its prime in the 1930s, especially in cartoons, costume films, and musicals. The expression technicolor yawn originated in Australia. A comedian, Barry Humphries, is credited with originating the term, or at least, popularizing the term, from the 1960s. Note that many sources capitalize technicolor because it is a trademarked name; however, it is also a process and in this sense, does not require capitalization. The Oxford English Dictionary does not capitalize the idiom, technicolor yawn.
On the troop ship across the Pacific he won his division’s technicolor yawn contest and got the news the war was over. (Madison Newspapers)
A quick glance at the mirror reveals pale faces and thin lips—telltale precursors to the dreaded Technicolor yawn. (Road & Track Magazine)
The myth of the vomitorium has therefore been shaped by our fascination with the antics of dissolute emperors and elites who loved a Technicolor yawn between meals. (The Conversation)