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"Purple Blazes"? Help with a phrase, please

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
I'm plowing through a novel this evening, and in it, one of the characters remarks "purple blazes." The expression should be (to me) "blue blazes." Does anyone know if "purple blazes" is the expression in some countries?

Thanks in advance.
Gangs are not seen as legitimate, because they don't have control over public schools.
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Gangs are not seen as legitimate, because they don't have control over public schools.
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post #2 of 16
Could you use it in a sentence, please?
"If I had played my career hitting singles like Pete (Rose), I'd wear a dress." - Mickey Mantle
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"If I had played my career hitting singles like Pete (Rose), I'd wear a dress." - Mickey Mantle
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post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 
Seriously, it's like "What in the purple blazes is going on here?"

It should be "blue blazes." The author is a Brit who lived in Japan and who now lives in Ireland writing in the voice of a Texan.
Gangs are not seen as legitimate, because they don't have control over public schools.
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Gangs are not seen as legitimate, because they don't have control over public schools.
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post #4 of 16
"I wonder what 'purple blazes' means."

Mid-- I've occasionally come across that phrase, but never as an interjection-- only as a description of landscape ("the hill was sprinkled with purple blazes").

Not sure if that's actually some kind of flower or just a poetic turn of phrase, and of course it might not have anything to do with the usage you're citing.

For that matter, what's the etymology of "blue blazes"? Maybe that's flower based as well, and your author is just being aesthetically eccentric.
They spoke of the sayings and doings of their commander, the grand duke, and told stories of his kindness and irascibility.
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They spoke of the sayings and doings of their commander, the grand duke, and told stories of his kindness and irascibility.
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post #5 of 16
Hmmm......... According to Mr. Google, the "blazes" in question refer to "the fires of hell" and the "blue" is just an alliterative intensifier.

So "what in blue blazes" is "what the hell?" for the non-swearing set, but I guess we knew that.

So maybe just a familial eccentricity that stuck? I know in my family we have slight variants of common phrases that nobody could tell you where they came from. Somebody got it wrong once and it tickled somebody's fancy and a very small usage subset is born.
They spoke of the sayings and doings of their commander, the grand duke, and told stories of his kindness and irascibility.
Reply
They spoke of the sayings and doings of their commander, the grand duke, and told stories of his kindness and irascibility.
Reply
post #6 of 16
Thread Starter 
OED sez that "blue blazes" is a 19th century coinage and basically means "the blue blazes of hell."

I'm just curious if anyone has ever seen this expression before.
Gangs are not seen as legitimate, because they don't have control over public schools.
Reply
Gangs are not seen as legitimate, because they don't have control over public schools.
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post #7 of 16
I've heard it plenty of times.
post #8 of 16
Blue blazes, yes.
Purple blazes, no.
post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by nordkapp View Post

I've heard it plenty of times.

Nordkapp, would you mind saying where you're from and in what context you've heard it?
Gangs are not seen as legitimate, because they don't have control over public schools.
Reply
Gangs are not seen as legitimate, because they don't have control over public schools.
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post #10 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by midwinter View Post

Nordkapp, would you mind saying where you're from and in what context you've heard it?

I suspect he's responding to your post immediately above his and saying that he's heard "blue blazes" plenty of times.
They spoke of the sayings and doings of their commander, the grand duke, and told stories of his kindness and irascibility.
Reply
They spoke of the sayings and doings of their commander, the grand duke, and told stories of his kindness and irascibility.
Reply
post #11 of 16
[CENTER]
Satin[/CENTER]
Every eye fixed itself upon him; with parted lips and bated breath the audience hung upon his words, taking no note of time, rapt in the ghastly fascinations of the tale. NOT!
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Every eye fixed itself upon him; with parted lips and bated breath the audience hung upon his words, taking no note of time, rapt in the ghastly fascinations of the tale. NOT!
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post #12 of 16


Purple would be an even hotter flame, just as blue is hotter than yellow or orange or red, temperature-wise.

The author is taking poetic license? As in hotter than Hell.
Every eye fixed itself upon him; with parted lips and bated breath the audience hung upon his words, taking no note of time, rapt in the ghastly fascinations of the tale. NOT!
Reply
Every eye fixed itself upon him; with parted lips and bated breath the audience hung upon his words, taking no note of time, rapt in the ghastly fascinations of the tale. NOT!
Reply
post #13 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by franksargent View Post

The author is taking poetic license? As in hotter than Hell.

That's my initial thought, but I thought I'd ask around here to see if anyone's ever heard the expression.
Gangs are not seen as legitimate, because they don't have control over public schools.
Reply
Gangs are not seen as legitimate, because they don't have control over public schools.
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post #14 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by midwinter View Post

Nordkapp, would you mind saying where you're from and in what context you've heard it?

As someone has said, in context, purple blazes means 'what the hell' - at least that's the very minimum it meant when it has been said to me.
post #15 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by midwinter View Post

Seriously, it's like "What in the purple blazes is going on here?"

It should be "blue blazes." The author is a Brit who lived in Japan and who now lives in Ireland writing in the voice of a Texan.

David Mitchell? Except that I don't know about the Texan thing... so must not be him...

Anyway David Mitchell is one of the best authors alive today.
post #16 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tonton View Post

David Mitchell? Except that I don't know about the Texan thing... so must not be him...

Anyway David Mitchell is one of the best authors alive today.

Yeah. It's Mitchell in Ghostwritten. And I agree. He's fantastic.
Gangs are not seen as legitimate, because they don't have control over public schools.
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Gangs are not seen as legitimate, because they don't have control over public schools.
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