blue moon (n.) Look up blue moon at
1821 in phrases indicating something rarely occurring, often suggesting something that, in fact, never happens. Compare at the Greek calends, and the native in the reign of Queen Dick and Saint Geoffrey's Day "Never, there being no saint of that name," reported in Grose (1788). It is suggested earliest in this couplet from 1528:
Yf they say the mone is blewe,
We must beleve that it is true.
Though this might refer to calendrical calculations by the Church. Thus the general "rareness" sense of the term is difficult to disentangle from the specific calendrical one (commonly misinterpreted as "second full moon in a calendar month," but actually a quarterly calculation). In either case, the sense of blue here is obscure. Literal blue moons do sometimes occur under extreme atmospheric conditions.