- a song, originating with American blacks, that is marked by the frequent occurrence of blue notes, and that takes the basic form, customarily improvised upon in performance, of a 12-bar chorus consisting of a 3-line stanza with the second line repeating the first.
- the genre constituting such songs.
Origin of blues1
Definition for blues (2 of 3)
noun (used with a plural verb)
Definition for blues (3 of 3)
- the sky.
- the sea.
- the remote distance: They've vanished into the blue somewhere.
adjective, blu·er, blu·est.
verb (used with object), blued, blu·ing or blue·ing.
verb (used without object), blued, blu·ing or blue·ing.
Origin of blue
Examples from the Web for blues
You spice it with blues and skiffle music, and pickle it in alcohol and tobacco smoke.The Greatest Rock Voice of All Time Belonged to Joe Cocker|Ted Gioia|December 23, 2014|DAILY BEAST
"Goin' Down Slow" Cocker and Elton John duetted on this blues cover on French music show Trafic Musique in 2005.
English blues and rock singer Joe Cocker has died at age 70.
This performance of Bob Dylan's 1971 blues tune features Clapton on guitar.
Blues music is often treated like a museum piece, a relic from a bygone day, but this band will make you want to get up and dance.
Nor are blues always attainable by throwing vapor over shade.Modern Painters, Volume V (of 5)|John Ruskin
Depression is often the only symptom; to some girls the premonitory "blues" signify the approach of the period.The Social Emergency|Various
What he said was, "Do you wish me also to lose my career and leave the Blues?"The Rhodesian|Gertrude Page
"Nothing like good salt air and a long swim to get the best of the blues, Captain," he announced, cheerfully.The Boy Chums Cruising in Florida Waters|Wilmer M. Ely
Floundering and slipping in the mud, the Blues steadily pounded their way down to the "Maroon's" goal.Bert Wilson on the Gridiron|J. W. Duffield
British Dictionary definitions for blues (1 of 4)
pl n the blues (sometimes functioning as singular)
British Dictionary definitions for blues (2 of 4)
British Dictionary definitions for blues (3 of 4)
- a sportsperson who represents or has represented Oxford or Cambridge University and has the right to wear the university colour (dark blue for Oxford, light blue for Cambridge)an Oxford blue
- the honour of so representing one's university
adjective bluer or bluest
verb blues, blueing, bluing or blued
Word Origin for blue
British Dictionary definitions for blues (4 of 4)
Word Origin and History for blues (1 of 4)
as a music form featuring flatted thirds and sevenths, possibly c.1895 (though officially 1912, in W.C. Handy's "Memphis Blues"); meaning "depression, low spirits" goes back to 1741, from adjectival blue "low-spirited," late 14c.
Word Origin and History for blues (1 of 4)
c.1300, bleu, blwe, etc., from Old French blo "pale, pallid, wan, light-colored; blond; discolored; blue, blue-gray," from Frankish *blao or some other Germanic source, from Proto-Germanic *blæwaz (cf. Old English blaw, Old Saxon and Old High German blao, Danish blaa, Swedish blå, Old Frisian blau, Middle Dutch bla, Dutch blauw, German blau "blue"), from PIE *bhle-was "light-colored, blue, blond, yellow," from PIE root bhel- (1) "to shine, flash" (see bleach (v.)).
The same PIE root yielded Latin flavus "yellow," Old Spanish blavo "yellowish-gray," Greek phalos "white," Welsh blawr "gray," Old Norse bla "livid" (the meaning in black and blue), showing the usual slippery definition of color words in Indo-European The present spelling is since 16c., from French influence (Modern French bleu).
The exact color to which the Gmc. term applies varies in the older dialects; M.H.G. bla is also 'yellow,' whereas the Scandinavian words may refer esp. to a deep, swarthy black, e.g. O.N. blamaðr, N.Icel. blamaður 'Negro' [Buck]
Few words enter more largely into the composition of slang, and colloquialisms bordering on slang, than does the word BLUE. Expressive alike of the utmost contempt, as of all that men hold dearest and love best, its manifold combinations, in ever varying shades of meaning, greet the philologist at every turn. [John S. Farmer, "Slang and Its Analogues Past and Present," 1890, p.252]
The color of constancy since Chaucer at least, but apparently for no deeper reason than the rhyme in true blue (c.1500). From early times blue was the distinctive color of the dress of servants, which may be the reason police uniforms are blue, a tradition Farmer dates to Elizabethan times. For blue ribbon see cordon bleu under cordon. Blue whale attested from 1851, so called for its color. The flower name blue bell is recorded by 1570s. Blue streak, of something resembling a blt of lightning (for quickness, intensity, etc.) is from 1830, U.S. Western slang.
Many Indo-European languages seem to have had a word to describe the color of the sea, encompasing blue and green and gray; e.g. Irish glass (see Chloe); Old English hæwen "blue, gray," related to har (see hoar); Serbo-Croatian sinji "gray-blue, sea-green;" Lithuanian šyvas, Russian sivyj "gray."
Word Origin and History for blues (2 of 4)
"lewd, indecent" recorded from 1840 (in form blueness, in an essay of Carlyle's); the sense connection is unclear, and is opposite to that in blue laws (q.v.). John Mactaggart's "Scottish Gallovidian Encyclopedia" (1824) containing odd words he had learned while growing up in Galloway and elsewhere in Scotland, has an entry for Thread o'Blue, "any little smutty touch in song-singing, chatting, or piece of writing." Farmer ["Slang and Its Analogues Past and Present," 1890] offers the theory that this meaning derives from the blue dress uniforms issued to harlots in houses of correction, but he writes that the earlier slang authority John Camden Hotten "suggests it as coming from the French Bibliothèque Bleu, a series of books of very questionable character," and adds, from Hotten, that, "Books or conversation of an entirely opposite nature are said to be Brown or Quakerish, i.e., serious, grave, decent."
Word Origin and History for blues (3 of 4)
"to make blue," c.1600, from blue (1).
Culture definitions for blues
A kind of jazz that evolved from the music of African-Americans, especially work songs and spirituals (see also spirituals), in the early twentieth century. Blues pieces often express worry or depression.
Idioms and Phrases with blues (1 of 2)
see have the blues.
Idioms and Phrases with blues (2 of 2)
In addition to the idioms beginning with blue
- blue funk, in a
- blue in the face
- between a rock and a hard place (devil and deep blue sea)
- black and blue
- bolt from the blue
- have the blues
- into thin air (the blue)
- like greased lightning (a blue streak)
- once in a blue moon
- out of a clear blue sky
- talk one's arm off (a blue streak
- until blue in the face)