Green is Not Just for the Irish

Last Sunday (March 17th) was Saint Patrick’s Day, which millions of Irish and those of Irish descent (came originally from Ireland) celebrated. The color most often associated with (linked to; connected to) Ireland is green.

It is customary (common) for people to wear green on St. (Saint) Patrick’s Day.

But there are a lot of English expressions that mention the color green that have nothing to do with St. Patrick’s Day.

An example is the expressions “being green.” Being green means being inexperienced, new to doing something or performing a job.

It probably refers to vegetables and fruits that are the color green until they become “ripe” (when fruits and vegetables to be ready to eat or used).

We can use this expression this way:
– “The medical student is too green to perform this procedure without help.”
– “The new manager will seem a little green until she learns the job.”

Another common expression is “green with envy,” which means that someone feels a lot of jealousy toward another person, very much wanting what that other person has.

For example, if your neighbor buys a new car, the same car that you’d love to own and drive, you may feel green with envy.

If a co-worker gets extra days of vacation time over the Christmas season, the other employees may be green with envy.

We also use “green” now to refer to things that are not harmful to the environment. Companies or governments talk about being “green,” meaning they use products and procedures that don’t harm the environment.

Some examples:
– “We’re turning this into a green house by buying energy-efficient appliances (refrigerator, stove, etc.) and planting vegetables instead of grass.
– “By buying hybrid cars (cars that use gasoline and electricity) for our salespeople, our company is taking the first step toward going green.”


P.S. This post first appeared as a Culture Note in our Unlimited English program for improving your English (Daily English 24). If you’ve learned something today, why not try our special sample English course for only $1? Go here for more information:

P.P.S. Learn more about St. Patrick’s Day on our blog here.


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