French idioms with colors
French Language

Top 12 French idioms with colors

French idioms with colors make our language very colorful 🙂 Find below the Top 12 expressions using colors that I use in my daily life. If you want to deepen your knowledge about those idioms, please check the Pourpre website (in French).

De but en blanc

De but en blanc” means “to go straight to the point“. Originally, this was a military expression when you needed to reach a target directly. “Dire quelque chose de but en blanc” means saying something directly and is usually not something good. Generally when you use is at the beginning of a speech, it implies that you are about to say something difficult to say.

Dire blanc et noir

We use this idiom when somebody is unsteady in what he says/thinks. It means that a day, this person can say a thing (blanc/white) ant the day after he can assert the exact opposite (noir/black).

Avoir un bleu

Did you guess what this means? It simply means to have a bruise. This expression is quite pragmatic : your skin is turning blue, so you have a blue (literal translation). Quite logical, isn’t it ?

Bière brune / Bière blonde

We give beers hair colors! A bière brune is a dark beer and a bière blonde is a lager. We call it after their color. So please don’t be mislead when you will hear do you want a brune or a blonde in France (“tu veux une brune ou une blonde?“) : They probably are talking about beers and not about girls! Or are they ?!


Les goûts et les couleurs

Les goûts et les couleurs, ça ne se discute pas” literally means that you can’t discuss tastes and colors. As a matter of fact, it means that when you disagree with somebody’s preferences, you can’t argue. Why does somebody prefer chocolate over vanilla? Impossible to discuss about that.

Grise mine

Faire grise mine” means that we are annoyed by something and that the face is turning grey. It is usually hard to hide it when we are upset and just looking at somebody’s face can sometimes be a feeling detector.

Rire jaune

Sometimes we laugh or smile at something that should makes us cry or at least be frustrated about. In fact, we do not really know how to react. In this kind of situation, we can say that somebody is laughing yellow (literal translation of “rire jaune“).

Bête noire

Being the black beast of someone means that we are someone’s scapegoat. Everything that will be happening will be this black beast’s fault for no specific reason but just because we don’t like this person, and it will be hard to see the good in this human being.

Passer à l’orange

In most countries, traffic lights are red, yellow and green. However in France, apparently, we do not perceive the same colors as the others : our traffic lights are red, orange and green. I would be curious to know in the comments what colors do you say they are in your language ?

La vie en rose

The most emblematic French idiom with colors of all French idioms with colors! “Voir la vie en rose” is probably an expression that you already heard thanks to Edith Piaf’s song. While most people think it is the way we feel when we are in love (everything feels good), it is actually broader than that : it is when you see life on the bright side in general.

Rouge de colère

As said earlier, feelings can be guessed on people’s face and when you are mad at somebody, guess what color you are turning ? Yes, you can turn red, and be “rouge de colère” !

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La main verte


Avoir la main verte” means that you are very good at gardening and that flowers and plants are in good hands with you (which is not my case… at all). I think that in many languages this expression exists with small variation (green thumb, green fingers,…).

We count many more idioms with colors in French. Are there any expression with colors in your language that you would like to share? Do not hesitate to comment below this article! 🙂

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  • Laure

    Un vrai arc en ciel ! 🌈 C’est vrai que c’est incroyable toutes ces couleurs et notamment les bières je ne pensais pas que c’était un truc français les blondes et les brunes 👱‍♀️🍺 super article !

  • Vero

    A very common one for French people : “je suis vert” ! when we feel so angry or disguted by something (it happens quite often 😂)

  • Miss Mini-fortune

    I find it funny that when you’re angry, you can “voir rouge”, “être vert” ou “entrer dans une colère noire”. One expression that I don’t know where it comes from is: “avoir un oeil au beurre noir”

    • Sabrina F.

      Totally true! When we are angry, we actually go through all of the colors!!! Regarding “avoir un oeil au beurre noir”, it is actually a very old expression (1585), when people used to cook an egg into butter : butter turned black when cooked, consequently the egg white turned black. So this expression compares our eye with the egg and the black butter would be our skin… Bon appétit!

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