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Red: Stop. Green: Go. These two colors have universally accepted meanings, but only when it comes to traffic. Meanings of colors change across cultures, and even within a culture. If your business is in the black, that's a good thing, but if you are blackballed, well, that's a problem. Red ink is bad news but a red-letter day is a happy occasion. A blue moon is a very long period of time but a blue law has nothing to do with length.
This week we'll meet five terms related to colors -- blue, red, white, purple, and blue again -- and how they affect words' shades of meaning.
cordon bleu (kawr don BLOO) adjective
Of the highest class.
A person of great distinction in a field, especially applied to a chef.
[From French, literally, blue ribbon. Under the Bourbon kings in France, a blue ribbon was worn by knights of the highest order.]
-Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
"On the one table was the university lecturer, applying critical faculties with academic rigour; on the next was the basic skills lecturer, on auto-pilot to praise every effort, even if the results were not quite cordon bleu." Gill Moore; If You Want Respect Then Wear a Suit; The Times Educational Supplement (London, UK); Sep 22, 2006.
I have never gone to sleep with a grievance against anyone. And, as far as I could, I have never let anyone go to sleep with a grievance against me. -Abba Agathon, monk (4th/5th century)
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