French Language Blog

I’m blue da ba dee da ba die… Shades of Blue in French! Posted by on Jul 9, 2015 in Vocabulary

Yo listen up here’s a story
About a little guy that lives in a blue world
And all day and all night and everything he sees
Is just blue like him inside and outside
Blue his house with a blue little window
And a blue corvette
And everything is blue for him and himself
And everybody around
‘Cause he ain’t got nobody to listen to


Now that I’ve got that song stuck into your head, I think it’s safe to say you know today’s topic… Continuing with the color series (miss the previous posts? le vert et le rose), we’re going to look at les nuances (shades) and les expressions of blue.

Le bleu is the coolest color – we see it all around us in nature – from le ciel (sky) to l’océan (ocean), and even at la crépuscule (dusk). That being said, blue foods are a pretty rare occurrence in la nature. Can you think of any natural blue foods besides des myrtilles (blueberries) or des Adirondack Blue (blue potatoes)? Because of its rareness in nature, blue is a great appetite suppressant. Tu veux maigrir (want to lose weight) ? Try eating your food from a blue plate. You could go a little further and dye your foods blue. The color isn’t something we associate with food, so when we see it, we’re not going to be as hungry…

Revenons à nos moutons (let’s get back to the subject at hand)… Blue is also considered to be the color of la confiance (trust) and la responsabilité (responsibility). It’s said to help release le stress because of its calming powers. Keep that in mind next time you’re painting a room – surtout (especially) a baby’s room. Blue is also considered to be la couleur of religion – it’s said to help enhance prayer.

Blue has also found a way into our language, and it really makes our communication more colorful (Ok, that was a terrible pun. Just go along with it.). Why is someone you support and trust true-blue? Why is something that happens at an unexpected time said to come out of the blue? Why is a sad person said to be blue?


Blue has also found its way into French, too. Want to add some color (sorry, I’ll quit) to your vocabulary? Look no further!



avoir du bleu à l’âme – to be sad
avoir du sang bleu – to be part of the noblesse
avoir les bleus – to be sad
avoir une peur bleue – to be very scared
détenir le ruban bleu – to come in first place
donner son bleu à quelqu’un – to dismiss/fire someone
en rester bleu – to be stunned/flabbergasted
être bleu de froid – to turn blue from being cold
être bleu de quelqu’un/quelque chose (expression belge) – to be in love with
être chocolat bleu [pâle] (expression belge) – to be heartbroken
être fleur bleue – to be naive
faire le bleu – to skip class
n’y voir que du bleu – to understand nothing
passer au bleu – to forget
rouler du bleu (also said with du gris) – to manually roll a cigarette
se faire avoir comme un bleu – to be hoodwinked
virer au bleu – to turn green



la bleusaille – a rookie
un cordon bleu – good cook
l’heure bleue – dawn
le sang bleu – a nobleman
le grand bleu – ocean
un col bleu – blue collar worker
la colère bleue – a violently-mad anger
la planète bleue – earth
un steak bleu – very rare steak
du gros bleu – poor quality red wine
un bleu – bruise ; new recruit in the army ; a rookie


Des Jurons (cuss words)

A lot of these are pretty dated, but there certainly are a lot of them… These are ways to curse without actually saying anything bad. You’ve probably heard that it’s wrong to take the Lord’s name in vain. The French seem to take that idea literally – “the lord’s name” (nom de Dieu) is a curse word in French. To get around that, you could say “nom de bleu!” It’s ok, because it’s sans blaspheme, right? The idea is implied, but you’re not saying it. Rabelais, author of the very famous French pentalogy Gargantua and Pantagruel, even wrote in one of his texts “Vert et bleu!” – a way of saying nom de Dieu without actually writing it. The phrases rhyme and it fits in the context. No sinning? No problem! Well, that doesn’t fix everything: his texts were certainly considered vulgar at the time, but I digress. Anyway, here are some more:

sacré bleu !
foutre bleu


Now that you’ve got all that down, let’s look at 22 different shades of blue. Enjoy!

bleu acier – steel blue
bleu électrique – electric blue
bleu givré – frosted blue
bleu charrette – country blue
blue turquoise – turquoise
bleu (de) cobalt – cobalt blue (note: sometimes “de” is used between bleu and cobalt!)
bleu barbeau – cornflower blue
bleu céruléum – cerulean
bleu glacier – ice blue
bleu azur – azure
bleu nuit – midnight blue
bleu égyptien – Egyptian blue
bleu cyan – cyan
bleu denim (also: jean) – denim
bleu glauque – glaucous (from the latin for bluish-gray or green)
bleu indigo – indigo
bleu guède –woad (another name for the plant Isatis tinctoria) blue
bleu ciel – sky blue
bleu dragée – pastel blue
bleu paon (also: canard) – peacock blue
bleu saphir – sapphire blue
blue fumée – powder blue

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About the Author: Josh Dougherty

Just your typical francophile. If you have any topics you'd like me to discuss, feel free to let me know!