a. Characterized by vivid description or explicit details that are meant to provoke or shock: a lurid account of the crime.
b. Characterized by shocking or outrageous behavior: a friend with a lurid past.
a. Bright and intense in color; vivid: “the whole loud overbright town like the lurid midway of a carnival” ( Paul Theroux )
b. Sallow or pallid: “She dropped back into the chair … A lurid pallor stole over her face” ( Wilkie Collins )
Origin of lurid
Latin lūridus pale from lūror paleness
Related Forms:Word History:
It may seem surprising that English lurid,
which sometimes means “vivid,” comes from Latin lūridus,
“pale, sallow, sickly yellow,” used to describe the color of things like skin or teeth. Latin lūridus
could also describe horrifying or ghastly things like poisonous herbs or even death itself—things that make a person turn pale. In an account of the volcanic eruption that buried the city of Pompeii, the Roman writer Pliny the Younger used lūridus
to describe the unsettling color of the sun shining through a cloud of ash. When lurid
first appeared in English in the mid-1600s, it described things that are pale in a sickly or disturbing way. Lurid
was also used of gray, overcast skies. In the 1700s, writers began to use lurid
to describe the red glow of fire blazing dimly within smoke. In the 1800s, the word acquired an additional meaning, the one it most commonly has today when we reveal the lurid
details of a horrifying or sensationalistic story.
(comparative more lurid, superlative most lurid)
- Shocking, horrifying.
- The accident was described with lurid detail.
- Ghastly, pale, wan in appearance.
- Being of a light yellow hue.
- Some paperback novels have lurid covers.
- The lurid lighting of the bar made for a very hazy atmosphere.
- (botany) Having a brown colour tinged with red, as of flame seen through smoke.
- (zoology) Having a colour tinged with purple, yellow, and grey.
Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster's Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
From Latin lÅ«ridus (“pale yellow, wan")