Out Of The Blue – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Have you ever encountered a situation where everything seems to go wrong, and suddenly, something good happens out of the blue? It’s like the universe is conspiring to give you a much-needed break. This post unpacks the meaning and origin of this expression. Let’s get started!

Meaning

The phrase “out of the blue” describes something that happens unexpectedly, without warning. It can be used positively or negatively. For example, if you receive a job offer out of the blue, you were not expecting it, and it came as a surprise. The phrase is often used when talking about bad news, such as a death in the family. If someone dies out of the blue, their death is sudden and unexpected.

A complete surprise or a reaction that is unexpected is another way to explain out of the blue. More often than not, the phrase is used to describe positive events. However, it can easily be used to refer to negative events such as saying someone fell sick out of the blue or got fired out of the blue.

Example Usage

“I was walking to work when out of the blue, a bird hit me in the head.”

“I’m so happy! I got a promotion out of the blue.”

“I was really surprised when I got the job offer out of the blue.”

“It was great to see our old friend again, out of the blue.”

Origin

It is believed that “out of the blue” is derived from the phrase “a bolt out of the blue.” This phrase describes something that happens suddenly and without warning, like a thunderbolt from the sky. The phrase was first used in The French Revolution, a book by Thomas Carlyle. It was written in 1837 and is about the French Revolution that lasted from 1789 to 1799.

The Spectator, a magazine published in London, also used the phrase in 1879. The phrase was also used in the House of Commons in 1975. It has also been found in The Republican Compiler which was published in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania as early as 1836. The phrase was again found in print in 1909 in The Bedfordshire Advertiser and Luton Times.

Phrases Similar to Out Of The Blue

  • To come out of left field
  • To come out of nowhere
  • To drop out of the sky
  • To come out of the clear blue sky

Phrases Opposite to Out Of The Blue

  • On time
  • Right on cue
  • By the book
  • To have prior warning
  • As expected

What is The Correct Saying?

  • The correct saying is “out of the blue.”

Ways People May Incorrectly Say Out Of The Blue

“Out of a blue” and “Out the blue” are two mistakes people sometimes make when saying out of the blue. People tend to miss out on the “the” while speaking it quickly. Some examples of improper usage are:

  • She has been telling you she is unhappy, so her leaving is totally out of the blue.
  • Picking colors out of the blue is the best way to plan a party.
  • You can quit out of the blue after serving a 2 weeks’ notice.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Out Of The Blue

This phrase can be used in formal settings, such as business meetings or academic papers. It can also be used in informal settings, like everyday conversation and social media. Some examples of proper usage are:

  • We don’t really understand how she faded so quickly, her illness came out of the blue.
  • I was not expecting a promotion, it really is out of the blue, I have only been here a short time.
  • I have done everything in my power to make you happy so your reaction is out of the blue completely.
  • That parking ticket was completely out of the blue, I made sure to find a meter that was working correctly.

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