Purples - in Culture and Society - Idioms and Expressions

Idioms and Expressions

  • Purple prose refers to pretentious or overly embellished writing. For example, a paragraph containing an excessive number of long and unusual words is called a purple passage.
  • Born to the purple means someone who is born into a life of wealth and privilege. It originally was used to describe the rulers of the Byzantine Empire. The Empresses gave birth in a purple chamber in the palace in Constantinople.
  • A purple patch is a period of exceptional success or good luck. The origins are obscure, but it probably refers to the symbol of success of the Byzantine Court. Bishops in Byzantium wore a purple patch on their costume as a symbol of rank.
  • Purple haze refers to a state of mind induced by psychedelic drugs, particularly LSD. It is said to have originated because the first LSD manufactured by the pharmaceutical company Sandoz was contained in purple capsules. Owsley Stanley also produced a batch of LSD in 1966 that was contained in purple pills. In addition, there is a strain of cannabis called Purple Haze that has purple buds. The expression purple haze gave its name to a 1967 song by Jimi Hendrix. Hendrix denied that his song was about drugs, saying that he took the expression from a science fiction novel that he had read.
  • Wearing purple is a military slang expression in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. for an officer who is serving in a joint assignment with another service; an Army officer on assignment to the Navy, an Air Force officer in the Marines, etc. The officer is symbolically putting aside his or her traditional uniform color and exclusive loyalty to their service during the joint assignment, though in fact they continue to wear their own service's uniform.

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