I know what "Black Friday" is and how the phrase first came about. What I would like to know is how the phrase evolved into "Black & blue Friday" which seems to have come about in very recent years.

Although I can make a guess, I have not found any clear cut explanation. My guess is that the phrase slipped from black that depicts the crowds of people in the shops and streets on that particular Friday to black & blue to depict the bruises shoppers get from jostling in the heavy crowds.

First question: is my guess good? If not why do people say Black & blue Friday?
Second question: when (and how/where, if anyone knows) did the phrase first appear?

1 Answer 1


"Black Friday" originated because for some retailers it is the day that their accounts for the year become "in the black", that is, positive. There's a convention that positive numbers on accounting statements are written in black ink and negative numbers in red ink. (It's not the only convention. Another is to put negative numbers in parentheses. Accountants don't seem to believe in minus signs like most of the rest of us use.)

"Black and blue" is a commmon English phrase referring to bruises. Like, "The muggers beat him black and blue." While I haven't seen any etymological history, I think it's a safe bet that "Black and blue Friday" is, as you indicate, a joke phrase combining "Black Friday" with "black and blue" bruises. I think that's how almost all English speakers would take it.

  • That particular claim about the origin of the phrase "Black Friday" is at best controversial (see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…)
    – Henry
    Dec 5, 2012 at 18:42
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    Based on a quick Google search, it appears the term "Black and Blue Friday" has only popped up in the past couple of years, and is used predominantly in stories about the violence surrounding the Black Friday sales. In fact, the earliest occurrence I could find was with a radio interview in 1998 (on Facebook, no less): www.facebook.com/NewsTalkKZRG/questionsCachedShare Jun 16, 1998 - Is today "Black" Friday or "Black and Blue" Friday? Dr. Eric Harris of Pittsburg State University's Department of Management and Marketing tells News Talk KZRG ... Dec 5, 2012 at 22:03
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    @TechWriterJames: What about turning your comment into an answer? Your comment is exactly the kind of answer I was looking for: I was not asking about Black Friday since the answer is easily available and I was giving the link to the wikipedia page; and it was also obvious from my question that I knew what black and blue means when used about a person.
    – None
    Dec 6, 2012 at 7:56
  • @Henry Okay, I'll buy that. The explanation I gave is the one I've always heard. If there are alternate theories, cool. Note that references to a bad stock market day in a particular year as "Black Friday" are almost surely completely unrelated and coincidental. (Not saying you or the cited article said otherwise, just clarifying.)
    – Jay
    Dec 6, 2012 at 14:54

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