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Yellow not only designates a kind of color, but also describes cowardice. But why? Where does the reference come from?

closed as off-topic by curiousdannii, jimm101, MetaEd Dec 7 '16 at 14:08

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    You'll find lots of speculation/ history about its origins at phrases.org.uk/meanings/yellow-belly.html – Ronald Sole Dec 7 '16 at 1:36
  • I am vaguely recalling once reading an account of some military situation where soldiers who were somehow stained yellow would be presumed to have been avoiding the front lines. But I can't recall what the supposed mechanism was that accomplished this staining. – Hot Licks Dec 7 '16 at 1:43
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    @HotLicks, well, one could pee oneself in fear. – HemiPoweredDrone Dec 7 '16 at 3:21
  • @HemiPoweredDrone - That's what I thought of, as well. It works better as a metaphor rather than literal description, though, I expect it would be easier to smell the difference rather than see the color (as opposed to just looking wet). – Megha Dec 7 '16 at 5:30

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