The yellowing of the year

We were discussing Irish idioms involving colours today and one of the ones I really liked was buíú na bliana*, which literally means “the yellowing of the year” and refers to the time when spring is becoming summer and the light becomes yellower and warmer.

Red or dearg is used in expressions such as: deargbhréag, a barefaced or blatant lie; deargamadán, an utter fool; dearg-ghráin, intense hatred; and deargiomaíocht, cutthroat competition.

Black or dubh is used in such expressions as: dubh le daoine, swarming with people; and ó dhubh go dubh (from black to black), round the clock or from dawn to dusk.

I’ll put together a page of these idioms for the colours section on Omniglot.

* As I didn’t see it written down, I’m not totally sure that it’s written like this.

This entry was posted in Idioms, Irish, Language, Words and phrases.

9 Responses to The yellowing of the year

  1. prase says:

    “As I didn’t see it written down, I’m not totally sure that it’s written like this.”

    What are the other possibilities? Buidhiú?

  2. Sandra says:

    “dubh le daoine, swarming with people” There is an equivalent phrase in French “être noir de monde”.

  3. Simon says:

    prase – I think it is buíú, but couldn’t find that word in any of the Irish dictionaries I checked.

  4. Dennis King says:

    “buíochan” an leagan caighdeánach den ainm briathartha seo, cé nach bhfuil aon locht ar “buíú”. Níor chuala mé féin “buíú na bliana” riamh. Feicim go bhfuil cúpla cor cainte eile san fhoclóir atá cosúil leis sin:

    le buíochan na gréine = with the mellowing of the sunlight, in late afternoon

    buíochan an fhómhair = the ripening of the harvest, the mellowing change of autumn

    Tá súil agam go bhfuil tú ag baint taitnimh as GCC!

  5. Yenlit says:

    Some Welsh colours have a verb form which would seem more unusual in English:
    red – coch – verb: cochi
    blue – glas – glasu
    yellow – melyn – melynu
    black – du – duo etc.
    Some have plurals as well as feminine forms (melyn – melen) although plurals of colours seems to be old and confined more to set phrases now eg. mwyar duon – blackberries – (du plural duon)
    I don’t know if this is just a feature of Celtic languages?

  6. Andrew says:

    “Yellowing of the year”? That’s very clever and perfectly descriptive, I like it.

  7. Yenlit says:

    Andrew – Hmm, I’m not sure whether I like the connotations ‘yellowing of the year’ has? I like its poetry and idiomaticalness but the first thing I think of when hearing ‘yellowing’ are senses that denote aging, fading, declining and tarnish, nicotine-stained etc. More autumnal and opposite to the sense of nascent summertime.

  8. Tommy says:

    I like “red lie”, but I didn’t know it was an English idiom until I searched and found it in the Urban Dictionary.

  9. D.Jay says:

    Yellowing with age – as in paper? Just thinking of verb forms of colours in English. And in the other constructions, there are blue funk and purple prose, of course.

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