colour

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Related to colours: Primary colours

give color to (something)

1. To add flourish or provide an interesting accompaniment to something. Idioms and metaphors are just some of the things that give color to language.
2. To embellish or exaggerate something so as to give it the appearance of truth, credibility, or plausibility. The defendant even bought used tickets to give color to his story of being at the opera when the murder took place.
See also: color, give

pass (something) with flying colours

To win, achieve, or accomplish something exceptionally well or very successfully. Said especially of a test, examination, or training of some kind. Primarily heard in UK. Samantha was rather nervous taking her final exam, but she passed with flying colours! Your brother passed his apprenticeship with flying colours. He'll be a master builder in no time!
See also: colour, flying, pass

(one's) true colours

One's true or honest beliefs, thoughts, convictions, biases, desires, etc.; one's real personality, character, or disposition. Primarily heard in UK. Dave said all along that he only wanted this deal because it was in the company's best interest, but he showed his true colours once he realised that he wouldn't get any special commission for his efforts. You will really see your friends' true colours when you call upon them in a time of crisis.
See also: colour, true

reveal (one's) (true) colors

To reveal what one really believes, thinks, or wants; to act in accordance with one's real personality, character, or disposition. Primarily heard in US. Dave said all along that he only wanted this deal because it was in the company's best interest, but he revealed his true colors once he realized that he wouldn't get any special commission for his efforts. It's only in times of crisis that your friends will really reveal their colors.
See also: color, reveal

show (one's) (true) colours

To reveal what one really believes, thinks, or wants; to act in accordance with one's real personality, character, or disposition. Primarily heard in UK. Dave said all along that he only wanted this deal because it was in the company's best interest, but he showed his true colours once he realised that he wouldn't get any special commission for his efforts. It's only in times of crisis that your friends will really show their colours.
See also: colour, show

under false colors

Using or under the guise of false pretenses, so as to deceive someone or to hide one's true nature or intentions. (An allusion to the identifying flags of a ship, and so usually used in the phrase "sail under false colors.") Primarily heard in US. Tim thought he could just put on fancy clothes and rub elbows with the upper crust that Janet's family socialized with, but everyone at the party knew he was sailing under false colors. I don't want to be accused of flying under false colors, so let me say straight away that I'm being paid to give a review of this product today.
See also: color, false

be off-color

To be rude or vulgar; to be likely to offend others, especially due to being sexually explicit or suggestive. Primarily heard in US. A: "What did you think of the awards ceremony last night?" B: "The presenter's jokes were a bit too off-color for my taste."

see the colour of somebody's money

  (British & Australian) also see the color of somebody's money (American & Australian)
to make sure that someone can pay for something before you let them have it I want to see the colour of his money before I say the car's his.
See also: colour, money, of, see

nail your colours to the mast

  (British & Australian) also nail your colors to the mast (American & Australian)
to publicly state your opinions about a subject Nobody knows which way he's going to vote because he has so far refused to nail his colours to the mast.
See nail colours to the mast, show in true colours
See also: colour, mast, nail

come through/pass with flying colours

  (British & Australian) also come through/pass with flying colors (American & Australian)
to pass an examination with a very high score or to complete a difficult activity very successfully She took her university entrance exam in December and passed with flying colours. The officer training was gruelling, but he came through with flying colours.
See also: colour, come, flying

be off-colour

  (British & Australian) also be off-color (American & Australian)
to not be feeling as well as usual He had flu a couple of months ago and he's been a bit off-colour ever since.

off-colour

  (British & Australian) also off-color (American & Australian)
off-colour jokes or remarks are about sex in a way that some people find offensive Some of his jokes were a little off-colour and I don't think my grandparents particularly appreciated them.

sail under false colours

  (British & Australian) also sail under false colors (American & Australian)
to pretend to be something that you are not in order to deceive people
Usage notes: If a ship sails under false colours, it uses the flag of another country in order to deceive people.
Lewis was sailing under false colours - he never told her he was a journalist.
See also: colour, false, sail

show somebody in their true colours

  (British & Australian) also show somebody in their true colors (American & Australian)
to show what someone's real character is, especially when it is unpleasant By showing the terrorists in their true colours, the government hopes to undermine public support for them.
See also: colour, show, true
References in classic literature ?
And so he praised the cloth which he did not see, and expressed to them his delight at the beautiful colours and the splendid texture.
The commonest utterances of the commonest citizens in the time of the Colour Revolt seem to have been suffused with a richer tinge of word or thought; and to that era we are even now indebted for our finest poetry and for whatever rhythm still remains in the more scientific utterance of these modern days.
The solar rays shone through the watery mass easily, and dissipated all colour, and I clearly distinguished objects at a distance of a hundred and fifty yards.
Carpets are better understood of late than of ancient days, but we still very frequently err in their patterns and colours.
Think of the sunsets and the moonrises-- I believe the colours are unimaginable.
He beheld him sifting his seeds, and soaking them in liquids which were destined to modify or to deepen their colours.
Why, I always supposed everyone thought in colours.
See here," said the friar, taking the frame from her hand, "an intricate winding of gaudy colours, without purpose or object, unless it be that one day it is destined for some vain ornament, to minister to the pride of your frail and giddy sex.
on colours of shells; on abrupt range of shells in depth; on poorness of palaeontological collections; on continuous succession of genera; on continental extensions; on distribution during glacial period; on parallelism in time and space
The poet is like a painter who, as we have already observed, will make a likeness of a cobbler though he understands nothing of cobbling; and his picture is good enough for those who know no more than he does, and judge only by colours and figures.
And now Partridge, who kept even pace with Jones, discovered something painted flying in the air, a very few yards before him, which fancying to be the colours of the enemy, he fell a bellowing, "Oh Lord, sir, here they are; there is the crown and coffin.
But I will show them unto you in other colours besides.
He pointed out to me the shifting colours of the landscape and the appearances of the sky.
I feel how vivid an impression I must have produced to have been painted in such strong, such rich, such massive colours as these.
They thronged the narrow length of our schooner's decks with their ornamented and barbarous crowd, with the variegated colours of checkered sarongs, red turbans, white jackets, embroideries; with the gleam of scabbards, gold rings, charms, armlets, lance blades, and jewelled handles of their weapons.