lu·​rid ˈlu̇r-əd How to pronounce lurid (audio)
: causing horror or revulsion : gruesome
The tabloids gave all the lurid details of floating wreckage and dismembered bodies.
: melodramatic, sensational
also : shocking
paperbacks in the usual lurid covers T. R. Fyvel
: wan and ghastly pale in appearance
frightened to death by the lurid waxworksSara H. Hay
: of any of several light or medium grayish colors ranging in hue from yellow to orange
: shining with the red glow of fire seen through smoke or cloud
lurid flames
luridly adverb
luridness noun
Choose the Right Synonym for lurid

ghastly, grisly, gruesome, macabre, lurid mean horrifying and repellent in appearance or aspect.

ghastly suggests the terrifying aspects of corpses and ghosts.

a ghastly accident

grisly and gruesome suggest additionally the results of extreme violence or cruelty.

an unusually grisly murder
suffered a gruesome death

macabre implies a morbid preoccupation with the physical aspects of death.

a macabre tale of premature burial

lurid adds to gruesome the suggestion of shuddering fascination with violent death and especially with murder.

the lurid details of a crime

Example Sentences

a lurid tale of violence and betrayal the lurid lighting of a nightclub The light from the fire cast a lurid glow on everything.
Recent Examples on the Web Lindholm’s drama is a far less lurid affair, more concerned with the way the medical bureaucracy shielded itself from liability at the cost of countless lives. Vulture, 28 Oct. 2022 The parts that do not look as if they have been recently plowed are filled not with grass but sand: huge expanses of it, giving the playing surface the same aesthetic appeal of a particularly lurid tie-dye shirt. Rory Smith, New York Times, 14 Oct. 2022 But the nature of Hutchinson’s testimony, in keeping with the era, was distinctly more lurid than Dean’s. David Remnick, The New Yorker, 22 Dec. 2022 Early color films were lurid and unrealistic until new chemical processes allowed for better reproduction. K. Thor Jensen, PCMAG, 15 Dec. 2022 Allen Lee Hughes’s lighting, with its blood-red effects, is too obviously lurid for my taste. Jesse Green, New York Times, 20 Oct. 2022 Later paintings of the Flight into Egypt or the Pietà appear almost amateurish, with unconvincing drapery and lurid color. Jason Farago, New York Times, 9 Dec. 2022 Pakistani media have aired various lurid theories about the night Sharif died. Bethlehem Feleke, CNN, 2 Dec. 2022 Filled with lurid details from contemporary newspapers, which breathlessly covered the most salacious divorce cases, the book cleverly examines how these bids for marital freedom reflected broader societal changes in Gilded Age America. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian Magazine, 29 Nov. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'lurid.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


Latin luridus pale yellow, sallow

First Known Use

1603, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of lurid was in 1603

Dictionary Entries Near lurid

Cite this Entry

“Lurid.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 31 Jan. 2023.

Kids Definition


lu·​rid ˈlu̇r-əd How to pronounce lurid (audio)
: causing horror or disgust : gruesome
lurid tales of murder
: sensational sense 2
lurid book covers
: lifelessly pale : wan
: shining with the red glow of fire seen through smoke
luridly adverb
luridness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on lurid

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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