"Color" = "information"?!

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Mon May 28 13:08:18 UTC 2007

Wilson Gray wrote:
> From Slashdot:
> "[Mossberg] declined to give any _color_ about the questions he and
> Swisher are preparing [for the conference]."

sagehen wrote:
> We talk sometimes of a "colorable hypothesis," for instance, which suggests
> a somewhat similar way of using "color;" i.e., providing detail, example,
> &c.

James Harbeck wrote:
> I assumed, on reading it, that it was borrowing the term from sports,
> where "color commentary" is background information et cetera.

OED defines the relevant sense as "words, descriptions, or attendant
features of an evocative nature."  See this post for early cites in
sporting contexts:


--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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