question for safire's column

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Aug 3 00:21:46 UTC 2000

At 11:09 PM -0400 8/2/00, Frank Abate wrote:
>I still feel that the pallid idea is not part of the real signification
>of "livid", based on its etym and the examples presented in OED.  I
>would be pleased to give way to other examples that show the association
>between "livid" and paleness.
Note that "lividity", as used by doctors (or at least by people who
play doctors on television), refers to 'the quality or condition of
being livid; a pale-bluish discoloration' as on a bruise, and never
to redness.  This goes back to a 1477 cite in the OED:
  This Waun Colour called Lividitie, In Envious Men useth much to be
where 'waun' or wan certainly brings out the character of the color


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