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Why is water blue? --AxelBoldt

Because of the tail of an absorption at around 750 nm absorbs the red. The absorption is an overtone of the O-H stretching vibration.

Interestingly, heavy water (D2O) is colourless, because the absorption band is at a longer wavelength (~950 nm). -- DrBob

"In German, "blue" means "drunk"."

Is it possible that this is connected to the origin of the term "blue laws"? I read something on encyclopedia.com about "blue paper they were written on," but that assertion seems asinine at best. A linguistic connection to German immegrants just feels more probable.--BlackGriffen

What are "blue laws"? Maybe they should be mentioned on the main article as well. --AxelBoldt

Good point. "Morals laws" governing alcohol, gambling, sexually-related materials, etc.

"the term most likely derived from an eighteenth-century usage of the word "blue" as a disparaging reference to something perceived as "rigidly moral" (a "bluenose," for example, is one who advocates a rigorous moral code"


Food for thought, --Alan D

Another example of that would be blue blood. I have to wonder about the etymology of the phrases, though.--BlackGriffen

I have always heard that blue laws got their name because they were initially published on blue paper. I think the German derivation is out, unless you know of any Germans who use the literal translation!JHK

There are only "blaue Briefe" (blue letters) in German. Those are unpleasant letters parents get from school. --Vulture

In German, "blue" means "drunk".

Technical quibble: This is the English-language Wikipedia. German usage is not germane. (Is it really "blau" means drunk, or "blue" means drunk? If the latter, we have a case for including this in English-language Wikipedia.)

"blau" is drunk, not "blue"

I'm therefore removing the German-language info from Blue

-- Somebody earlier removed this from page (why?) -- the following may make more sense in response to this. --

A "Blue movie" is a slang term for a pornographic? film. The term derives from the poor colour balancing (due to cheap production techniques) used in films during the 1970s, resulting in a bluish tone to the skin of the performers.

I think this term goes back at least to the 1920's! OED?

Quoted directly from the OED blue adj:

" b. Intoxicated. slang (chiefly U.S.).

1818 M. L. WEEMS Drunkard's Looking Glass (ed. 6) 4 The patient goes by a variety of nicknames..such as boozy, groggy, blue, damp. 1860 [see sense 10]. 1945 BAKER Austral. Lang. ix. 166 A man who is drunk is said to be..blue."

" 9. colloq. a. Indecent, obscene. Cf. BLUE n. 14 and BLUENESS 4.

1864 HOTTEN Slang Dict. 78 Blue, said of talk that is smutty or indecent. 1935 Economist 16 Mar. 584/2 The songs sounded not vulgar exactly, but..`a bit on the blue side'. 1959 Spectator 14 Aug. 180/1 It meant that the theatre-going public were deprived of..outstanding contemporary plays, yet allowed to visit `blue' variety shows. 1965 Punch 2 June 799/1 He also wanted to see a blue movie."

From www.britannica.com blue law:

"The name may derive from Samuel A. Peters' General History of Connecticut (1781), which purported to list the stiff Sabbath regulations at New Haven, Conn.; the work was printed on blue paper. A more probable derivation is based on an 18th-century usage of the word blue meaning "rigidly moral" in a disparaging sense. S"

Now, considering that english is a Germanic language, and that the number of German immegrants was second only to the number of Irish, don't you find it more probable that the use came from the German term for drunk? There is, after all, a more than casual link between drunkenness and obscenity.--BlackGriffen

Proposal to end debate:

Put the usage section on another page. How about here. Each color can have its own subpage of [Color Talk]?. I bet you're green? with envy that you didn't think of this first. I hope it doesn't make you see red though.

Re English language wiki -- I'm sorry, this is one of the most asinine things I've read. I'm generally one of the people who screams for English-language as the focus, but there should be absolutely NO objection to valid questions on (and uses of) etymology. Edit sensibly, please. J Hofmann Kemp

I see that Red and Green also have colloquial usage sections. Perhaps that's why someone undid my move.

I'd rather see all the usage togther in one article; or, better links so someone could read each color-usage article. I'd hate to think I'm missing lavender or brown (gay and nazi?) connotations. Our language is so colorful, it deserves better than a piecemeal treatment. Ed Poor

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Last edited December 7, 2001 1:35 am by Ed Poor (diff)