blue

This is the full read-only archive of the "Ask the Wordwizard" section of the original Wordwizard site. The responses to the questions originate from Jonathon Green, the compiler of the Cassell Dictionary of Slang and numerous other dictionaries.
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blue

Post by Archived Topic » Tue Feb 09, 1999 12:00 am

I would like to know the origin of the word blue. Did it ever mean anything other than the color it describes.
Submitted by Peggy Gramarossa (West Allis - U.S.A.)
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blue

Post by Jonathon Green » Fri Feb 12, 1999 8:00 am

Middle English (mid-11C-mid-15C) has 'blew', and Old French 'bleu', and blue's origins and parallels can be found there and in a number of Romance languages (e.g. early forms of Portuguese/Spanish/Italian/Medieval Latin). There was an Anglo-Saxon 'bláw' but this apparently faded prior to Middle English, which drew more on Old Norse 'blá', in sense of ‘lividus’, leaden-coloured, and French 'bleu' in sense of ‘cæruleus’, sky-blue.
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