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Ron had gone a nasty greenish colour, his eyes fixed on the house. The other three wheeled around.

Ron had gone a nasty greenish colour because her mother would give them a hard time.

My question is that:

Does "Ron had gone a nasty greenish colour" refer to his face? If so, why didn't it put "Ron's face had gone a nasty greenish colour"? If not, what does it truly mean?

~ From Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

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    If Ron's body had turned greenish he would look like Hulk!! – user29952 Oct 24 '18 at 14:15
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    @user070221 I don't understand it. How could his body possibly turn greenish? Did he do some magic or anything? – dan Oct 24 '18 at 14:24
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    I think it's a reasonable question that didn't deserve a downvote. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Oct 24 '18 at 14:31
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    @dan I've had it happen to me once, after having just a little too much blood drawn for medical tests, that my skin did, in fact, turn a light shade of green. And not just my face either. – Kevin Oct 24 '18 at 15:06
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    That it's his face is understood. Since most people wear clothes most of the time, it would be out of the ordinary to see other parts of his body. – jamesqf Oct 24 '18 at 16:36
18

It is idiomatic to speak of the person using their name, even when speaking of body parts, and especially when speaking of the face, which can be very expressive of the person's self and identity.

Ron was bleeding.

Ron had turned a sickly shade of green.

Ron had turned a painful shade of red from lying out on the beach all day.

"turned ... green" is a collocation that refers to loss of color in one's face related to nausea, so we know it doesn't refer to his body as a whole, even though it's possible to refer to the color of the entire body using the same verb.

P.S. A Monty Python skit that never aired:

You're bleeding.
-- No I'm not.
Yes you are.
-- Am not.
What's that red liquid?
-- That's blood.
Is it your blood?
-- Yes it is.
And you're not bleeding?
-- That's right. It's my bleeding finger that's bleeding.

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    Your first example here is very good: it makes perfect sense to say that "Ron was bleeding", meaning "Some part of Ron's body was bleeding." Of course, one could also say "Ron's finger was bleeding", which would be more precise, but one doesn't have to be precise all the time. – David Richerby Oct 24 '18 at 14:57
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    @Dan. Sure you can, but perhaps not with is. I told him that he was an incompetent boss in front of everyone at the meeting, and boy did he get red. You wouldn't have to add "in the face" though you could. We understand from context what these phrases mean. "He laid out in the sun and got red" versus "He walked into the meeting with the zipper of his trousers down. Boy did he get red." – Tᴚoɯɐuo Oct 24 '18 at 15:25
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    @dan: It is conversational and is in the form of an exclamation. It means "He became very flushed in the face because of his embarrassment". – Tᴚoɯɐuo Oct 25 '18 at 11:39
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    As an aside, one should be careful in that this is an idiom that can have a few meanings. To "turn green" for example can also refer to extreme jealously (or envy) so the context will be important. – J... Oct 25 '18 at 12:12
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    @Tᴚoɯɐuo It's not an uncommon usage. Indeed about 4% of written instances of "green with envy" are preceeded by "turned". – J... Oct 25 '18 at 14:03
8

To "go green", or be "green around the gills" means that someone is looking nauseous and about to be sick. It's a reference to the pale, clammy skin that a person gets when nauseous. I haven't watched enough people vomiting to say whether they truly turn green, or if it's figurative.

In this case, Ron's face going a nasty greenish colour is not a literal description, but a rather flowery way of using the terminology. It means that he was looking pale and clammy with fright.

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  • I've had it happen to me once, after having just a little too much blood drawn for medical tests, that my skin did, in fact, turn a light shade of green. And not just my face either. – Kevin Oct 24 '18 at 15:04
  • It would be nice if "nauseous" was replaced by "nauseated." – Jeff Morrow Jan 5 '19 at 15:54

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