Green’s Dictionary of Slang

blue n.4

[abbr. bloomer n.2 ]

1. a blunder, a mistake.

[Aus]Smith’s Wkly (Sydney) 2 Dec. 18/2: I ‘touched’ a parson in the corridor but it was a dead ‘blue.’ All he panned out was a ‘put and take’ teetotem [...] and a ten bob note.
Sydney Sportsman (Surry Hills, Sydney) 10 Dec. 3/1: One of the semaphore officials made a nasty ‘blue’ in the first division of the Novice Welter Handicap.
[Aus]Baker Popular Dict. Aus. Sl. 11: Blue, an error or mistake; a loss.
[Aus]J. Binning Target Area 72: I’m in one blue after another lately.
[Aus]T.A.G. Hungerford Riverslake 66: Play dumb, and they’ll make all the blues.
[NZ]B. Crump Hang On a Minute, Mate (1963) 17: Trouble with you blokes is you won’t admit when you’ve made a blue.
[UK](con. 1920s) B. Moore From Forest to Farm 63: On one never-to-be-forgot occasion I made a ‘blue’ which I have not lived down yet.
[Aus] in K. Gilbert Living Black 229: If he makes a blue of it, someone else’ll take over.
[NZ]G. Johnston Fish Factory 176: Being a County Council man who shouldn’t make such a blue, I was too embarrassed to shout for a ladder.
[Aus]R.G. Barrett Real Thing 12: I’m not sure what he looks like and you could make a blue.
[Aus]G. Seal Lingo 46: Another meaning of blue (also a common nickname for a red-headed male), however, is to make a mistake. This is said to derive from the woolsheds of the 1890s where the newly introduced shearing machine blades needed frequent sharpening. If the job was badly done by the person responsible the metal blades would turn blue, slowing down the shearer’s output of shorn sheep and making him unhappy enough to stack on a blue.
[Aus]Bug (Aus.) June 🌐 What’s going on in this beloved country of ours when you’re no longer allowed to make one or two blues in life and then move on?

2. a brawl, a quarrel.

[Aus]New Call (Perth, WA) 14 Jan. 2/4: ‘This “blue” [i.e. a gun battle] ’as been brewing fer days now, and I knew there was going to be trouble; but, struth, I never thought ’e’d ’ave ther guts ter shoot’.
Dandenong Jrnl (Vic.) 17 July 16: [headline] That Bit Of A Blue After The Spring Vale - Noble Park Match. Charges of Fighting Proved, But Selleck and Simpson Let Off with Caution.
[Aus]L. Glassop We Were the Rats 76: I knew fellows who went out looking for what they called a ‘blue’.
[Aus]Aus. Women’s Wkly 1 Dec. 2/3: The [Second World] war was always referred to as ‘the blue’.
[Aus](con. 1941) E. Lambert Twenty Thousand Thieves 106: A provost I got into a blue with in Tel Aviv was barkin’ the orders.
[NZ]I. Hamilton Till Human Voices Wake Us 110: Fourteen conchies [...] doing a fortnight over some blue in the camps.
[Aus]G. Hamilton Summer Glare 252: Let’s get out of here [...] before you two start a blue.
[Aus]‘Nino Culotta’ Gone Fishin’ 23: He said that he had ‘had a bit of a blue with the missus’.
[Aus]D. Ireland Glass Canoe (1982) 136: He was a pleasant little guy. Never made much fuss round the pub, kept his blues for other places.
[Aus]P. Barton Bastards I Have Known 62: After a real blue with Roy over nothing in particular he gave his notice.
[Aus]R.G. Barrett Mud Crab Boogie (2013) [ebook] [H]is totally spare, fucking girlfriend tries to run him off the road in a four wheel drive. They start having this giant blue in the middle of the street.
[Aus]M.B. ‘Chopper’ Read Chopper 4 11: It was the last blue we ever had [...] it’s not one of the best or bloodiest, but for me it’s a blue I’ve always remembered.
[Aus]G. Gilmore Base Nature [ebook] ‘I heard you got into a bit of a blue down the surf club’.
[Aus]C. Hammer Opal Country 319: ‘How’d he take it?’ ‘Not well.’ ‘You had a blue?’ [...] ‘Nah. We don’t fight’.

3. a serious complaint, an objection.

[Aus]Northern Star (Lismore, NSW) 23 June 12/5: He [...] had heard that there was ‘a bit of a blue on’ concerning a cheque which had been picked up and cashsed.
[Aus](con. 1941) E. Lambert Twenty Thousand Thieves 179: There’s gonna be a blue over this.
[NZ]I. Hamilton Till Human Voices Wake Us 177: [of prison rule-breaking] He’s doing six years and the collar and if he got in a bad blue now, he’d probably never leave.
[UK]L. Hadow Full Cycle 139: If there’s any blue this time, I’m heading north like a go up a tree. They can stick this joint.
[Aus]M.B. ‘Chopper’ Read Chopper From The Inside 93: The accused walks, no blue, no problem, all is well.

4. a problem.

[Aus]Argus (Melbourne) 24 Feb. 7/1: I am in a bit of a blue. A sheilah which Is staying here asks of me do I think she would look good in a two-piece bathers, and I said, ‘Maybe, but don't worry, as nobody will be deceived’.
[Aus]Dly News (Perth) 10 Aug. 6/1: ‘Im in a bit of a blue with some petrol tickets [...] and I came to see how I stood.
[Aus]R.G. Barrett Mystery Bay Blues 24: ‘The only blue’s finding somewhere to stay down there’ [...] ‘That mightn’t be a problem’.

In phrases

bung on a blue (v.) (also put on a blue, stack on a blue) [bung v.1 (3)]

(Aus.) to make a fuss, to create a disturbance.

[Aus]Sydney Morn. Herald 29 Jan. 1/1: ‘Ah don’t come the raw prawn. You trying to bung on a blue’.
[Aus]J. O’Grady Aussie Eng. (1966) 22: You can ‘bung on a blue’ [...] and finish up in hospital, or in jail.
[Aus]D. Ireland Burn 28: You tryin’ to bung on a blue?
[Aus]R. Beckett Dinkum Aussie Dict. 12: Bung on a blue: To ‘stack on a turn’; with women an attack of hysterics, with men a fist fight.
[Aus]G. Seal Lingo 46: Although not a specifically larrikin term, the general Lingoism for a fight is a blue. Someone can put on a blue, bung on a blue or even stack on a blue. In any case the result is the same.
put a blue on (v.)

to make a fuss, to raise an issue.

[Aus]J. Morrison Black Cargo 45: They weren’t silent now. In plain Australian, there was a bit of a blue on.
[Aus]Smith & Noble Neddy (1998) 131: It seems that I was spotted while I was paying Rex a visit. John Dowd and John Hatton [two anti-corruption MPs] put a blue on in the house over my association with Rex. [...] It hit the bloody headlines in all of the papers.
send off the blue (v.)

(N.Z.) to start a fight.

[NZ]Truth (Wellington) 20 July 21: Injuries suffered by other trainees included a fracture of the skull, head, face, shoulder and arm lacerations [...] When arrested, Brown told the police that he ‘sent off the blue’ because the trainees had been ‘razzing’ his ‘Hell’s Angels’ associates [DNZE].
smack a blue (v.)

(Aus.) to get into trouble.

[Aus]K. Tennant Foveaux 290: You can always get a bet ’cause there’s sure to be some bloke wiv a life sentence an’ a wireless. As long as you don’t smack a bad blue, you ought to ’ave a ’appy time [AND].
[Aus] ‘Whisper All Aussie Dict.’ in Kings Cross Whisper (Sydney) xl 4/4: smack a blue: To strike trouble along life’s way.
[Aus]J. Alard He Who Shoots Last 24: I know the kid never had a chance [...] I did my best to stop him smacking a blue; but it wasn’t enough.
[Aus]R. Aven-Bray Ridgey-Didge Oz Jack Lang 45: Smack a Blue Come undone by police.
wear the blue (v.)

to take the blame, to suffer punishment.

[Aus]Smith & Noble Neddy (1998) 186: I was accused [i.e. by the media] of every murder that happened between 1975 and 1989. [...] I know how the Australian dingo feels. Thank Christ the dingo was around to wear the blue for Azaria Chamberlain or they would have tried to pin it on me.