Definition of livid
- the livid traces of the sharp scourges
- —Abraham Cowley
- a fan of gladiolas blushed livid under the electric letters
- —Truman Capote
- was livid at his son's disobedience
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the boss was livid when yet another deadline was missed
her face was livid with fear
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Livid has a colorful history. The Latin adjective lividus means "dull, grayish, or leaden blue." From this came the French livide and eventually the English "livid," which was used to describe flesh discolored by a bruise when it was first recorded in the early 17th century. A slight extension of meaning gave it the sense "ashen or pallid," as used in describing a corpse. "Livid" eventually came to be used in this sense to characterize the complexion of a person pale with anger ("livid with rage"). From this meaning came two new senses in the 20th century. One was "reddish," as one is as likely to become red with anger as pale; the other was simply "angry" or "furious," the most common sense of the word today.
First Known Use: 15th centurySee Words from the same year
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