I could talk a blue streak...

Roi Marphille

Senior Member
Catalonia, Catalan.
Hello,
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?..


thanks!

Roi
 
  • GenJen54

    Senior Member
    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.
     

    fenixpollo

    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.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Umm.
    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.
     

    foxfirebrand

    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    fenixpollo said:
    To talk a blue streak = to use foul language. "Blue" in this sense refers to something taboo. (source) P.S. I've never heard this term to mean "talking quickly."
    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?"
     

    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.)
     

    alveifbklsiu249

    Member
    mandarin
    Hello everyone, I want to know if you still use talk a blue streak, curse a blue streak, swear a blue streak in modern English(Both spoken and written).

    If I use these phrases in the conversation with a native English speaker, especially young people (Maybe 20s or 30s ), can I expect them to understand?
    Because to me, those phrases seem so uncommon.
     
    Last edited:

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    OED:
    blue streak n. colloquial (orig. U.S.) †(a) something resembling a flash of lightning in speed, vividness, etc. (obsolete); (b) a constant stream of words; esp. in to talk (also lie, swear, etc.) a blue streak: to talk, lie, swear, etc., quickly or vigorously.

    1830 Kentuckian 14 May 2/5 To pass..with such rapidity as not even to leave a ‘blue streak’ behind him.
    1847 Knickerbocker 30 178 Interspersing his vehement comments with a ‘blue streak’ of oaths.
    1895 Century Sept. 676/1 He calmly lied to me a blue streak, and he knew that I knew he was lying.
    1895 S. Hale Lett. (1919) 289 I..drove in her sort of..carryall..talking a blue streak two miles to her house.
    1913 G. Stratton-Porter Laddie ix. 288 He talked a blue streak about the money.
    If I use these phrases in the conversation with a native English speaker, especially young people (Maybe 20s or 30s ), can I expect them to understand?
    I can't speak for AE speakers, but in BE, you would not be understood, or you would be misunderstood - which is probably worse.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    It's still used occasionally but not commonly is what I would guess. It doesn't sound like something young people would say but I'm not an expert on that.

    One variation I didn't see mentioned above is "talk 'til you're blue in the face." That means talk endlessly (presumably without taking a breath so you start to turn blue). I'm not sure I'd consider "a blue streak" to simply mean quickly. Blue referred to a lot of forbidden things in the past but a lot of things that were forbidden in the past are hardly forbidden anymore, making the usage of that sense of blue less meaningful.
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    Hello everyone, I want to know if you still use talk a blue streak, curse a blue streak, swear a blue streak in modern English(Both spoken and written).

    If I use these phrases in the conversation with a native English speaker, especially young people (Maybe 20s or 30s ), can I expect them to understand?
    Because to me, those phrases seem so uncommon.
    I can't say I've ever come across them anywhere.

    It's possible that a native BE speaker would be able to able to work out from the context what you meant, but there's also a better-than-average chance that you'd be misunderstood, in my opinion. :(
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    In the old days if you said a comedian worked "blue" that meant he told dirty jokes and jokes using profanity that would not be considered socially acceptable to mainstream audiences.
     
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