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The phrase Once in a Blue Moon originated early in the 19th century and was simply an analogy for anything that rarely or never happens, such as the case of the Moon appearing blue in color. That was its commonly understood meaning when I was young. A 1940s suggestion in a minor almanac that a fourth Full Moon in a season should be called blue was largely ignored. Shortly afterward a Sky & Telescope article misinterpreted that almanac article and said it was the second Full Moon in a calendar month. That was similarly ignored; however the error was eventually corrected by the magazine. Then in 1961 came a popular doo-wop song called Blue Moon. That year during a radio program discussion of popular music, someone asked what is meant by a blue Moon? A participant answered that he thought he heard it referred to the second Full Moon in a month. Finally the word spread rapidly from there, thus giving that silly notion some currency.
The second Full Moon of a month (or fourth in a season) does not appear blue in color. This application of the term Blue Moon is ludicrous. Yet hardly anyone questions it, since we’ve heard it repeated so many times. The popular culture grapevine is amazing, especially in this internet age. Unfortunately, nowadays this means that we only hear the term used in its original sense once in a blue Moon.
Post by Paulie pchris00 on Nov 22, 2010 9:41:08 GMT -6
As a living language, I'm okay with the definition of "blue Moon" changing over time. I like the third Moon of a season with four full Moons best, but I will probably still refer to the second full Moon in a month as a "blue Moon" also. I worry far more about the damage being inflicted on the English language by the generation raised on Internet/cell phones. Their texting and instant messaging slang has gotten out of hand. I use it at times, but sometimes I wonder how many kids today can actually spell common words because they're always using some abbreviated variation. Languages evolve, and the definition of "blue Moon," though not intended, is an example. Texting/IM gibberish is a far worse crime in my book.
"Just a boy, just an ordinary boy, but he was looking to the sky." -Vanessa Carlton