English Color Expressions – Green

Besides being my favorite color, green also features prominently in the English language.  And while I sure that you will be familiar with some of these, I hope that you will also find a couple of new ones.

To be green – This doesn’t mean that the person looks like an alien or has a green color to their skin.  Instead this refers to an individual who is inexperienced or immature.  For example, if you have never written a book before, then you could refer to yourself as green in that area.

Green with envy – This means that the individual is very jealous.  A good example of this can occur in the workplace.  Both you and your coworker applied for a promotion.  You got the promotion but your coworker didn’t and now they are upset with you and jealous.  You could say that your coworker is green with envy.

Green thumb – Once again this doesn’t mean that the person’s thumb is green and about to fall off.  Rather it refers to an individual who is talented at gardening and able to make plants grow.  In order to use it properly you wouldn’t say, “She is a green thumb” but rather “She has a green thumb.”

Give someone (or something) the green light – While this doesn’t directly refer to a traffic light, the concept behind a traffic light helps to explain the meaning of this phrase.  When the traffic light changes to green, it is an indication that you are allowed to proceed through the intersection.  Similarly, if you give someone the green light you are indicating that they are allowed to proceed with something.  In the workplace, it is common to hear, “the new project has been given the green light.”  This means that the company is proceeding forward with the new project.

Grass is always greener on the other side – Most people know someone who tends to think that everyone else always has a better life than they do.  They may express this feeling by complaining about their life and how unfair it is compared to others.  You can describe these individuals as believing in the grass always being greener on the other side.  They always think that other people have it better than they do.

Green belt – A green belt can be something that you wear around your waist to help hold up your pants.  Another and sometimes more confusing meaning is to refer to an area of land that surrounds a city or town.  This area is usually not as developed as the city and therefore has more trees and greenery.  If you were to look at the area from above in an airplane, it would appear as though there is a green belt that is surrounding the city.

See if there are any new vocabulary words in the descriptions above and make sure to bring your questions to class, so that we can discuss them further.