I could talk a blue streak...

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Roi Marphille, Sep 23, 2005.

  1. Roi Marphille

    Roi Marphille Senior Member

    Catalonia, Catalan.
    here we go: "I could talk a blue streak about how idiotic school is"

    what is that? blue what?
    I guess it means something like "I could talk extensively about how.."

    what do you guys think?
    do you say that?..


  2. GenJen54

    GenJen54 Senior Member

    Downright Pleasant, USA
    USA - English
    Hi Roi,

    You're right! :thumbsup: "talk a blue streak" means to talk extensively about something, although it should not intimate that one necessarily has a great deal of knowledge about that subject.

    It's real meaning is to "talk quickly and at an interminable length" about something.

    Another expression is to "curse a blue streak," which means to swear, or use an endless streak of profane words.

    I'm not certain of its exact etymology, but believe it somehow was related to a blue "streak of lightning" in the sense that someone who "talks a blue streak" is usually speaking on and on at a very fast rate.

    Edit: My source for definition and possible etymology is Am. Heritage Dictionary of English Language, 4th ed.
  3. fenixpollo

    fenixpollo Mod, I say, Moderator

    American English
    :warn: To talk a blue streak = to use foul language (edit: probably not a correct definition)

    "Blue" in this sense refers to something taboo. (source)

    edit: I've never understood this term to mean "talking quickly." After being corrected by other foreros and subsequently consulting my sources, I believe I misunderstood the term (the one or two times it was used around me during my lifetime) -- possibly because the quick-talkers that talked a blue streak were also foul-mouthed?

    Anyway, I stand corrected.
  4. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I'll tell you this if you promise not to talk too much about the British Space Effort.:D
    Blue Streak is the name of a British designed and built ballistic missile. Although it never went wrong, the Blue Streak programme fizzled out some time in the late 1950s.

    Click here for more.
  5. foxfirebrand

    foxfirebrand Senior Member

    The Northern Rockies
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    I disagree on all counts! Calling a movie "a little blue" does mean it's somewhat pornographic, and the entry about "blue laws" was correct. But you'll notice your source didn't mention the idiomatic "talk a blue streak," and I wouldn't recommend conflating "blue laws" and "blue streak" simply because they contain the same word.

    Yes, talking a blue streak means "fast and furious," and implies a certain rabid enthusiasm, or perhaps a manic personality. It's true you can "curse a blue streak," but that doesn't give the more general expression "dirty" implications.

    Maybe you're thinking of "purple prose?"
  6. Kelly B

    Kelly B Senior Member

    USA English
    I agree that a blue streak isn't necessarily vulgar, just fast, prolonged, and maybe a little loud.

    Purple prose isn't necessarily vulgar, either, but absurdly flowery. It's used in romance novels, yes, but is more likely to use euphemisms for body parts rather than coarse language. (Heaving bronzed décolletage comes to mind after a recent discussion over in Fr-Eng.)

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