Colour up


What's the meaning of the phrase 'Colour up'?

To colour up is to blush or turn red in the face.

What's the origin of the phrase 'Colour up'?

It’s not an especially old phrase and isn’t seen in print until 1836, in Frederick Marryat’s Japhet in Search of a Father:

“Her ladyship coloured up with rage.”

The verb colour, meaning to blush, was used earlier, as in this example from Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language, 1755:

“To colour, to blush. A low word, only used in conversation.”

Trend of colour up in printed material over time

Gary Martin is a writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.

Gary Martin

Writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.