Until one is blue in the face

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The phrase until one is blue in the face is an idiom that some find confusing. 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 until one is blue in the face, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

Until one is blue in the face means until one is totally exasperated; to argue, shout or talk to someone, especially trying to persuade them to do something, until one is totally spent. The idea is of someone who is expending extreme effort in talking until he is so out of breath he turns blue from lack of oxygen. Interestingly, the phrase as rendered in the 1820s was originally until one is black and blue in the face. The color black was dropped from the idiom by the 1860s, when the idiom became until one is blue in the face.


She stood up and emphasized the importance of talking to children “till you’re blue in the face.” (The Peoria Journal Star)

Turnbull may talk about jobs and growth until he is blue in the face, but the slogan left over from the 2016 election is clearly not cutting through. (The Western Australian)

They can talk about minor strategic alterations until they’re blue in the face but if they don’t simply play harder, things are going to get more difficult. (The Toronto Star)

“The Republicans can spin this until they’re blue in the face but ultimately the voters rejected their tax scam because they understand it prioritizes the wealthiest corporations and the wealthiest few,” Law said. (USA Today)