What does the idiom "out of the blue" mean?

You are wondering about the meaning of the phrase out of the blue, maybe you heard it in a TV show, movie or theater play. Although this idiom is not used very often, it enriches your capacity of expression and strengthens communication. In which case is the expression out of the blue used and what is its meaning?

Meaning of "out of the blue"


The phrase "out of the blue" is used to describe something that happens unexpectedly or without warning. It implies that the event in question happened suddenly, without any sort of logical explanation or anticipation. It is typically used to describe events that are either positive or negative, but mostly it is used to describe potential surprises that have a positive connotation.


The phrase "out of the blue" has origins that can be traced back to the mid-1800s. It most likely comes from the phrase "out of a clear blue sky," which was used to describe something that happened unexpectedly or without warning. This phrase was commonly used to describe events in the military, such as an enemy attack or the arrival of supplies. Later, the phrase evolved to become "out of the blue," which is the more common version used today.


The phrase "out of the blue" is often used to describe unexpected good news or events. For example, if someone is suddenly given an unexpected job promotion, it can be said that the promotion came "out of the blue." Similarly, if a person receives an unexpected gift for no apparent reason, it can be described as coming "out of the blue."

The phrase can also be used to describe unexpected bad news or events. For instance, if a person receives a phone call from an unknown number and the caller is delivering bad news, it can be said that the news came "out of the blue."

Example Sentences

  • I was surprised when my friend showed up out of the blue with a birthday present for me.
  • He sent me an email out of the blue with an offer to buy my business.
  • I was devastated when the news came out of the blue that my grandmother had passed away.
  • Out of the blue, I received an invitation to attend a prestigious award ceremony.

The meanings of the words in the "out of the blue" idiom

The Surprising Origins of Everyday English Idioms

Many English idioms have surprisingly dark origins, often rooted in violence, death, and superstition. For instance, the phrase "raining cats and dogs" is said to have originated in the 17th century, when heavy rain would often cause dead animals to wash up on the streets. Meanwhile, the idiom "rule of thumb" is believed to have originated from a law that allowed men to beat their wives with a stick no thicker than their thumb.


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