I was interested in the usage of ‘blue’ as a verb in the headline of New Yorker’s article, “Bibi Netanyahu’s election blues,” followed by the following lead copy:

“The center-left, which had seemed so deflated in spirit and imperiled in the polls, benefitted from the biggest voter turnout in Israel in more than a decade.”

I’m not familiar with the casual usage of “blue” as a verb, but by combining the definitions of ‘blue’ in OALED as the verb, (1) make or become blue and the adjective, (2)informal (of a person or mood) melancholy, sad, or depressed, I can surmise that ‘blues’ in the quoted headline means the prospect of Netanyahu’s winning the Election is being deflated or becoming uncertain.

Is ‘blue’ normally used as an intransitive verb in such a way ? Can I say “the chance of me being promoted as CEO blues” / “The prospect of Japan and China agreeing on the territory issues blues” ?

  • There are all kinds of blues. Seriously, all kinds. No reason you couldn't refer to "territory-issues blues."
    – Robusto
    Jan 27, 2013 at 1:47
  • @Yoichi: There are a few contexts where to blue can be used to mean make [sth] become blue-coloured, but the most common meaning is actually a derivative of blow meaning To spend money extravagantly (sometimes spelled blew, even though it's present tense). There is no verb usage of blue relating to the "sad" sense of that headline. Jan 27, 2013 at 1:56
  • 2
    Netanyahu’s election blues means that even though his party, Likud, won the election, its majority shrank and now Netanyahu has to form another coalition government that gives the right-wing religious parties even more power than they had before this election. As others have pointed out, "blues" is a noun: Netanyahu has the blues: he expected to win handily and big, but didn't; the election didn't turn blue.
    – user21497
    Jan 27, 2013 at 2:18

2 Answers 2


It's not a verb in that use, it's a noun sense which is always plural. "The blues" is a state of melancholy related to the adjective sense you mentioned, and also to "blues" music.

It is often used with a noun adjunct to refer to difficulties with or melancholy about something. Hence "holiday blues" in the well-known song (according to which, there is no cure) and here "election blues" meaning difficulties with an election.

(Edit: incidentally, in the contexts of an election there's yet another sense of blue that's worth pointing out just to avoid confusion - you might say a given constituency "went blue" or "blued" to mean they moved toward a party associated with that colour - generally a centre-right party in Europe, but the in the US it means the Democrats who have been the more left-wing of the two largest parties for quite some time).


That is not actually a verb, but a noun; normally referred to as the blues, it means a feeling of depression or deep unhappiness.

So, it's not that his election "blued", but rather that he had "the (election) blues", but was apparently able to overcome them.

  • Why did the writer drop ‘had’ or ‘was? Is this the usual way of headline writing to keep it short, though I don’t think the writer earn so much by omitting a verb? Jan 27, 2013 at 8:52
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    He didn't drop anything, "Bibi Netanyahu’s election blues" means "the election blues of Bibi Netanyahu", which is the topic of the piece.
    – Jon Hanna
    Jan 27, 2013 at 12:10

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