a quick grammatical question...

I do not know if this is factually-based enough for this category, but it didn’t seem cosmic enough for the great debates one. Oh, well, here goes:

In the sentence, “Off we go into the wild blue yonder…” what part of speech is ‘blue’? I stick to my original answer of adjective, but I can see the point of it being a noun. I need answers!


Actually, “blue yonder” is a phrase meaning “sky.” Together they are a noun. I don’t think the words should be considered independently in this context.

Good question. What part of speech blue is depends on what part of speech yonder is. Yonder can be a pronoun meaning “something that is or is in an indicated more or less distant place”; if it is a pronoun here, then blue is an adjective. But yonder is more commonly an adverb meaning “at or in that indicated more or less distant place”; if it is an adverb here, then blue is a noun. (Yonder can also be an adjective, but I doubt that it serves as one here.)

You can read the line, “Off we go into the wild blue yonder,” either way–with blue as a noun or an adjective. But the song taken in context suggests that it is a noun, since the next verse uses it unambiguously as a noun:

(The definitions that I quoted come from Merriam-Webster OnLine, http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary.)