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Monday, May 21, 2012

Considering The Color Blue

I've noticed, for many folks, blue is their favorite color just as it is mine. A google of the word turned up some interesting facts.

Did you know blue is traditionally associated with royalty? It was the Spaniards who gave the world the notion that an aristocrat's blood is not red but blue. In ancient and medieval societies of Europe, the veins of the upper class appeared blue through their untanned skins. An obvious contrast to the working class who were mainly agricultural peasants. A nobleman would hold up his sword arm to display the filigree of blue-blooded veins beneath pale skin to prove his aristocratic birth.

Northern Kentucky, regarded as bluegrass country, is famous for its horse-raising  farms, thoroughbred horse racing being considered the "sport of kings." This region of the US is characterized by fossiliferous limestone, making its rolling hills highly fertile for growing pasture.

It's fascinating when you become aware of how the word "blue" has woven itself into our language. "Once in a blue moon" refers to something absurd, unlikely or near impossible. Or how about "a bolt from the blue" - another phrase that alludes to surprise or unexpectedness.

Bet you're familiar with "blue chips"? The term got its start when Oliver Gingold of Dow Jones noticed several trades at $200 or $250 a share. He commented about "these blue chip stocks" perhaps remembering that in the game of poker, the blue chips have the highest value. The term stuck.

So when did the word "blue" come to be a pejorative word? The term "blues" or "blue funk" became associated with a depressed state as early as 1228. Ah! And you thought it was a modern connotation of the word "blue." 150 years later it was commonly being used to describe someone who was down and inconsolable. Then in the late 1960s and 1970s, a version of this expression, "funky," came to mean something enjoyable and cool. "Funky" described a type of popular music that combined jazz, blues and soul that produced feel-good and groovy feelings.

So...a "blue funk" can mean both a state of paralyzing sadness and a style of music. Something to remember when you feel yourself wallowing under a "blue" cloud. That's when you need to put on James Brown's "I Feel Good."

2 comments:

  1. I love learning things like this. :-)

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  2. Some very interesting facts, Gay. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete