Blue Moon

Blue Moon, © Jana Kopilova |

Blue Moon does not refer to your local bar or the latest shade of nail polish – although this would be a good name for either – a blue moon is the second full moon in a month.  This is a rare event, it occurs roughly once every two to three years.  The next blue moon will not be until August 2012, August 31 to be precise, with the first full moon occurring on August 2 that year.  Why the second moon in a month is called “blue” seems the subject of debate and we will not concern ourselves with that question.

Although this looks like the start of a really boring astronomy lesson it is not.  I am just setting the stage for explaining the idiom “once in a blue moon”.  It means exactly what it appears to mean after the astronomy lesson above: on a very rare occasions, very rarely.  It is a fine idiom that can be used in casual conversation but is perfectly appropriate for a business setting.

Customer: “How often does your software crash?”

Sales rep:  “Don’t worry about that, once in a blue moon – if that.”

German equivalent:  alle Jubeljahre

Spanish equivalent (or so they claim): “cada muerte de obispo” which literally means “each time a bishop dies)


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