What Does Black and Blue Mean?

Black and Blue Meaning

Definition: Bruised, beaten up.

The term black and blue refers to the colors of a bruise. Something that is black and blue has been hurt either physically or emotionally.
When used literally, the phrase describes a physical injury. When used figuratively, as in the phrase, “I was left black and blue after my girlfriend left me,” it means someone is in so much emotional pain that he feels as if he has been bruised by his emotional suffering.

If the phrase is used in front of a noun, it should be hyphenated like this: black-and-blue bruises. If used after, it should not be hyphenated, as in this sentence: “my bruises were black and blue.”

Origin of Black and Blue

Black and blue idiom meaning This phrase has been traced back to around the 1300s. It directly references the appearance of an agonizing, multicolored bruise. Although bruises do not usually turn totally black or blue, this phrase indicates feeling extreme pain.

Examples from writing throughout history include the following,

  • These would explode, and I was twice hit by the bullets, which left a black-and-blue mark. –Edison, His Life and Inventions.
  • I suppose if the truth was known, Jamie beats yir ma every night of her life to a black-and-blue jelly! –The Rosie World.

Examples of Black and Blue

Meaning of beaten black and blue Anything bruised is black and blue. For example, a gymnast who fell down during a routine may have a black-and-blue leg.

The phrase can also end with the words “all over” to describe somebody who is extremely hurt. A biker who was just in a crash and has sustained broken bones would be black and blue all over.

Black and blue can also describe emotional pain. Someone may say, “I was black and blue after being laid off from my job. I was hopeless.” In this way, the phrase describes hurting on the inside.

More Examples

  • “I think he threw 80 miles an hour. I was the catcher. He made my hand black and blue.” – Orlando Sentinel
  • Then let the large fellows on the other side of the ball start hitting people, start turning them black and blue, send them limping and gimping around the field.New York Post


Black-and-blue things are bruised and hurting.