or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Thursday, March 23, 2006


Every now and then--well, a lot, really--I'll be reading and I'll look at a word and think, "Interesting; where does that come from?" It happened this evening; the word that ignited a little spark was "lurid". We all know what it means: nearly always "sensationalistic", with undertones of "revolting" and "horrifying". But where does it come from?

The key to "lurid" lies in one of its subsidiary, little-used meanings: "pale: pallid: sallow". "Luror" is the Latin word for "paleness", and so something that's lurid is something that will cause a person to become pale with shock and disgust. (In this way it's reminiscent of "livid", which means "pale with anger"; that is, so furious that, instead of being red, you're white, because all the blood drains from your face.)

"Lurid" is, I need hardly even say, unrelated to "lure".


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