Blue Collar Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How to Use It

You may have heard someone say blue-collar before, but do you know what it means? This article will give you the scoop on the meaning of blue-collar.

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If you’re a part of the American workforce, you’ve likely heard someone say “blue-collar” before, but do you know what it means

Not to worry: This article will provide you with everything you need to know about this common term, including its definition, origin, and more. 

What Is the Definition of Blue Collar?

Blue-collar is primarily used to describe workers who prefer to perform manual labor. The blue-collar worker refers to any worker who engages in hard physical labor, such as maintenance, mining, construction, food service, retail, or manufacturing.

While the meaning behind blue-collar no longer pertains to the attire of present-day work environments, workers of any profession can be classified by a specific collar type, with the most common terms being white-collar and blue-collar.

This does not mean other types do not exist. Take “pink-collar workers” for example, who are primarily employees who work in a care-oriented career field.  

What Are the Common Differences Between White and Blue Collar Workers?

With the help of Collins Dictionary and other trusted dictionaries around the globe, we have compiled a brief list of the most common differences between blue-collar and white-collar workers — and for some, an example or two:

  • Legal regulations — The vast majority of blue-collar workers in the U.S. are not exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act or FLSA, whereas most white collars are exempt from the same regulation. This is just one example of the difference in legal regulations between the two types of workers. 
  • Work setting — One of the more obvious differences is that a blue-collar worker does not work in an office. They are the type of workers that are able to work in various non-office settings such as plumbing,, welders, electricians, or installers.
  • Pay —  Generally speaking, white-collar jobs tend to have a higher average salary in comparison to the hourly wage of the often low-paying blue-collar job (especially when compared to an entry-level retail job).
  • Education — Blue-collar tend to be the less formally educated of the two because, unlike a blue-collar job, many white-collar jobs require bachelor’s degrees. However, blue-collar workers often undergo their own education and training, such as a formal apprenticeship. 
  • Type of labor — While the two types may both claim to use their hand to do their job, they both do so in a very different fashion. Blue-collar jobs tend to center around manual labor and getting your hands dirty. White-collar jobs generally rely on their hands to be pressed firmly against a keyboard at all times, for instance, a data entry clerk.

What Are a Few of the Various Synomns for Blue Collar?

Below you will find a list of example synonyms:

  • Working-class
  • Labor intensive
  • Done with one’s hands
  • Not automated
  • Plebeian
  • Operator 
  • Humble
  • Grassroots
  • Ordinary
  • Wage-earning
  • Inferior
  • Unskilled
  • Inexperienced
  • Menial
  • Factory worker
  • Amateurish 
  • Hired help

Are There Any Antonyms For The Term Blue Collar?

There are not many antonyms for blue-collar, however, there are a few:

  • Automated
  • Rule maker
  • Manager
  • Top brass
  • Boss man
  • Crime lord
  • Criminal leader

What Is the Origin of the Term Blue Collar?

The common term was first coined in the 1920s when the “blue-collar” employees of the time wore, as the name implies, blue clothing. 

As we now know, blue-collar refers typically to manual labor, and as such blue-collar workers would often wear blue clothing — chiefly blue denim clothing, chambray shirts, overalls, or boiler suits. These durable fabrics have proven to be helpful in concealing the day-to-day grease and dirt that is a byproduct of the very nature of their work. 

Usage Examples of Blue Collar

As you will see below, we have included a few example sentences on the word of the day. Utilize these example sentences on your journey to learn all there is to know about the term blue-collar:

We learned today that the American writer Upton Sinclair is partially responsible for the commonly agreed antonym of blue-collar — white collar.

Abbie always fell for the blue-collar guy just like her dad, a retired welder.

Unable to even supply his high school diploma or any past certifications that may have been completed, Dusty was clearly destined to become a blue-collar worker.

To win the election, John is going to need to win over the blue-collar workers of the mid-west.

He was a blue-collar worker who worked very hard to provide for his family.

In Conclusion

Blue-collar is a term that refers to a type of employment. These “working class” jobs are typically classified as involving manual labor and compensation by an hourly wage. 

Classifying workers by the color of their shirts isn’t anything new. In fact, the term blue-collar originated way back in the 1920s when many of those in trade occupations who did physical labor wore darker colors — like blue — to keep cool from the sun. 

Other types of colored collar categories of workers include green collar, pink collar, gray collar, and white collar. 


  1. Blue-collar definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary 
  2. BLUE-COLLAR | definition | Cambridge English Dictionary
  3. Sentences with Blue-collar | Power Thesaurus  
  4. Blue-collar Definition & Meaning |