In Hebrew, we say "pink glasses" to mean optimistic observation, and "black glasses" for pessimism. I was trying to figure out how popular the literal translations are in English. I found "rose-tinted glasses" as a popular equivalent to express optimism. But is there an analogous expression for pessimism?

Googling "looking through black glasses" made it seem not to be a popular phrase. Is this in fact a recognized idiom? Is there a similar, more common one?

  • I suppose sunglasses would be the logical answer … doubt that would be understood, though. Jun 3 '14 at 10:51
  • I don't think there is a direct equivalent in English.
    – Urbycoz
    Jun 3 '14 at 11:49
  • The only direct equivalent I know in English is profane. It could be edited to something like "He sees through fecal lenses."
    – TecBrat
    Jun 3 '14 at 14:45
  • for maximum pessimism you still use rose-tinted glasses...whose lenses are broken and driven into your eyes.
    – Oldcat
    Jun 3 '14 at 22:59

You can look on the black side, take a grim (or black, or dim) view of things and consider that the outlook is bleak and that the {prospect is / prospects are} grim or things aren't looking good.

  • Is there any expression that involves wearing something?
    – Meni
    Jun 3 '14 at 10:22
  • @Meni - You can, of course, wear a grim expression. But I can't think of any garment or accessory that specifically connotes pessimism.
    – Erik Kowal
    Jun 3 '14 at 10:26
  • You can also be wearing your ‘No’ hat, but that’s a bit different. Jun 3 '14 at 10:52
  • Agreed. There is no direct glasses/wearable idiom in English. A popular idiom is "glass half-full", as in "He's a glass half-full sort of guy." Jun 3 '14 at 13:04

While it appears the idiom does not exist, you could make quite the play on words by describing someone "seeing through half-empty glasses."

On a more serious note, most English-speaking people would likely understand if you described someone who "sees the world as half-empty" or "sees (x) as a half-empty glass." I can't say I have ever heard it used before in this way, though.

Alternatively, describe someone who sees the world as bleak or grey when they are not wearing rose-tinted glasses. Unfortunately this will only work in the negative.


One alternative that I've heard is jade-colored glasses, playing on a combination of the original glasses and "jaded".

  • That this has no votes is surprising, this is a great answer and one that's now in my vocabulary. Jan 27 '16 at 17:41

Here are some suggestions:

A pessimistic person is always:

Expecting the worst.

Raining on your parade.

Bursting your bubble.

Finding the touch of grey in every silver lining. (Context: every cloud has a silver lining.)


Someone who sees the world pessimistically is a "glass half empty person".

(Conversely an optimist is a glass half full person.)

Bizarrely, Wikipedia doesn't have any citations before this century, whereas the idiom must be much older.

  • 2
    In the UK, most people would understand *Eeyorish", referring to Eeyore the gloomy donkey in the Pooh Bear stories. Jul 15 '15 at 15:26

Consider the rare see (or view) life/the world through gray/grey tinted glasses and see (or view) life/the world through gray/grey colored glasses.

I saw life through grey-tinted glasses; I was withdrawn, miserable, and grouchy.

For example, depressed people tend to look at the world through gray-colored glasses and have negative views of themselves.

Alternately, what comes to mind is the idiomatic doom and gloom (or gloom and doom).

doom and gloom: the feeling that a situation is bad and not likely to improve

  • Never heard this, but "grey-tinted glasses" works well for me. The similarity to "rose-tinted" makes it immediately obvious what is meant. More so than "grey-coloured" does, for me. And better than using black or dark because they could makes you think of sunglasses or blindfolds ("looking through black glasses" makes me think of not seeing anything at all rather than seeing things negatively).
    – Rupe
    Jun 3 '14 at 12:11

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