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once in a blue moon

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To do something “once in a blue moon” is to do it very rarely: “That company puts on a good performance only once in a blue moon.” The phrase refers to the appearance of a second full moon within a calendar month, which actually happens about every thirty-two months.

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“Was” is used for the indicative past tense of “to be,” and “were” is only used for the subjunctive past tense.

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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

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Idioms and Phrases with once in a blue moon

once in a blue moon

Rarely, once in a very long time, as in We only see our daughter once in a blue moon. This term is something of a misnomer, because an actual blue moon—that is, the appearance of a second full moon in the same calendar month—occurs every 32 months or so. Further, the moon can appear blue in color at any time, depending on weather conditions. [Early 1800s]

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.
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