Thursday, January 3, 2013

Blue -- & my dad

Blue – & my dad

January 4th is a little-known holiday – my dad’s birthday. In honor of his propensity for turning the air blue, we’ll take a look at the word blue.

Scott C. Perry Jr. (known in the family as Puz) happened to have blue eyes, though I don’t know of anyone who would’ve called him a blue-eyed boy. He headed to work at MGM Studios straight out of high school as a blue-collar worker. He would not have been fond of blue laws, & did not frequent restaurants featuring cordon bleu chefs.

Etymologists are somewhat uncertain regarding the association of the word blue with profanity. The first instances of phrases like turn the air blue or cuss a blue streak occurred in the 1840s. This may be associated with the Scottish phrase thread o’ blue, which referred to music or literature that included a “smutty touch,” however some linguists see this as a shaky connection.

Blue collar is a reference to the traditionally blue work clothes of those engaged in manual labor. Cordon bleu translates to blue ribbon & refers to the highest level of chefs, those who might win a blue first place ribbon. The term blue-eyed-boy refers to the employee preferred by the boss; synonymous with the term fair-haired-boy, it appears to reflect a long-lived European prejudice. Once in a blue moon is a term first documented in 1821 that reflects that rare occasion when we see two full moons in one month.

Into the wild blue yonder is a term referring to the excitement or isolation of traveling to the unknown. It’s not quite synonymous with Jackie Gleason’s classic line, “To the moon, Alice, to the moon,” but I’m forced to mention this line due to Puz’s affinity for Jackie Gleason & Puz’s own unplanned travel to the unknown some five years ago.

Blogophiles, please leave a comment suggesting a person in your life & what one word you might propose as a tribute to him/her.

My thanks go out to this week’s sources The OED, The Free Dictionary & Etymonline.


  1. My word is for my husband…large. His physicality is large, his brain holds a large amount of information, his heart a large capacity for caring. Don’t tell him I told you but he cries when he hears songs from his past and Hallmark type sentiments easily bring him to tears. He lives, works and loves large. Thanks for the sweet reflections about your dad. Very nice and hey…you look like him!

  2. Hi Christine,
    Large is a great word. Its shades of meaning include bounteous, liberal, generous, abundant, bountiful & inclined to give or spend freely. It sounds like a word-collection written specifically for Steve.

  3. How about this from the all-time major league baseball roster?:
    Bert Blue
    Lu Blue
    Vida Blue
    Ossie Bluege
    Otto Bluege
    Jim Bluejacket
    Not what you asked for, but...

  4. Oh Charlie, you've got me singing the blues remembering lost loved ones. Your dad sounds like an amazing character.

  5. Hi Anne,
    Puz certainly was a character. Bits of him appear here & there in my stories, as bits of other folks do. Given that, it's clear you've known some truly intriguing characters, if your Camilla Randall books reflect the folks you've met.

  6. Hi: I like your blog and your definition of "wordmonger." Write on!