look a bit blue around the gills

thuhoai

Senior Member
Vietnam
Hi,everyone.


You look a bit blue around the gills
. My understanding is you look unwell.

So my question is the phrase
" look a bit blue around the gills" usually is used in daily conversation ?

Thanks,
 
  • PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    look a bit blue around the gills" =lacking oxygen (such cases have a bluish tinge to their skin colour and similarly, blue gums.)
    "green around the gills." = nauseous, often sea-sick
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    The saying is a bit old-fashioned, in my experience. And I've always heard it as "green around the gills."
    I agree.
    Google Books has instances of "blue around the gills"; one with the same intended meaning as the green version, the other meaning cold.
    It would be helpful if you would provide the source - which website?
    We need to know where this example came from.

    EDIT: I see that it came from a definitions website where the expression is defined as:
    If a person looks blue around the gills, they look unwell or sick.
    "You should sit down. You look a bit blue around the gills."
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    Thank you. I am surprised. I would expect the principal entry to be green around the gills and the variants to be blue and pale.

    I've never actually heard anybody say "blue about the gills" to mean to look unwell or to mean to lack oxygen - and I spent over 2 years in command of a training centre which made aircrew hypoxic (and noticeably blue) on a daily basis.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    I see that it came from a definitions website where the expression is defined as:
    The website says "also green or pale around the gills" but they have listed it under "blue" with an example using probably for the sole reason that "blue" is alphabetically first. I think that's quite misleading as "green" seems to be much more commonly used while "blue" is the least used of the three. It's nice to know that you might see "blue" or "pale", but you would be better off using "green".
    See: Comparison of the three on Ngram Viewer
     
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