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Her faced turned red. She was obviously livid ...

PotomacBob

Mrs. Higginbothan, six grade grammar teacher, often told us that "livid" can be many colors, but red is not one of them. It can reflect anger, but the color is usually gray or grayish-blue - not red.
"Her face turned red. She was obviously livid ..." is taken from a popular story on SOL.
Was Mrs. Higginbotham right? If so, has the definition changed since her time? If Mrs. Higginbotham addressed the question, it must have been an issue way back then. Is it still an issue today?

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Remus2

Blood pressure spike can make a person's face go slightly red. Lack of oxygen/breathing/fear can make it go grayish blue/gray. I'm inclined to think she's wrong, but I'm not a medical professional so take that with a grain of salt.

Replies:   PotomacBob
Crumbly Writer

I tend to agree, not only is it a convoluted analogy, it's also an overused cliché. At best, someone about to 'blow their top' might be a little 'pinkish' but they're hardly scarlet, unless we're discussing Scarlett. Instead, it suggests an author is trying to breathe live in a stagnating plot line.

In general, you don't need to shout to generate excitement, and adding extra exclamation marks doesn't make a boring passage any more compelling.

PotomacBob

@Remus2

Even if blood pressure can make a person's face go red, that doesn't necessarily mean the red face is the same thing as "livid." the online dictionaries I've consulted do NOT say livid CANNOT be red - but they also don't say it is red.

richardshagrin

livid


"Dictionary
Search for a word
liv·id
/ˈlivid/
adjective
1.
furiously angry.
"he was livid at being left out"
synonyms: furious, angry, infuriated, irate, fuming, raging, seething, incensed, enraged, angered, beside oneself, wrathful, ireful, maddened, cross, annoyed, irritated, exasperated, indignant; More
2.
dark bluish gray in color.
"livid bruises"
synonyms: purplish, bluish, dark, discolored, black and blue, purple, grayish blue;"

Doesn't sound red or pink to me.

Replies:   Remus2
Remus2

@richardshagrin

Her face turned red. She was obviously livid

In context to the OP, I took it to mean the color one takes when angry. The dry definition of 'livid' is something different.

Replies:   karactr
karactr

@Remus2

I agree. Just another instance of multiple meanings for the same word.

English!! Sheez.

Switch Blayde

@PotomacBob

From Merriam-Webster:

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.


See the part I bolded.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
robberhands

Livid is not red, and although it's true that today the term is most commonly used as a simple synonym for angry or furious, I still regard it a mistake to use 'livid' as an 'obvious' interpretation of a red face.

I dislike the phrase 'show don't tell' but 'showing and then telling' is worse - even more so when an author mixes and mangles cliches.

Replies:   REP
awnlee jawking

@Switch Blayde

In a team meeting, a colleague pointed out to the manager in charge that a catastrophe during a customer demonstration was a consequence of one of his decisions.

The manager's face turned puce (which is a dark reddish purple) at being outed, but he managed to regain enough self-control to take his screaming session with the colleague away from the meeting.

The manager subsequently got promoted and the colleague was made redundant.

AJ

Replies:   robberhands
REP

@robberhands

I still regard it a mistake to use 'livid' as an 'obvious' interpretation of a red face.


I agree. However, livid as in 'extreme anger' can increase blood pressure, which in turn can result in the face taking on a redder tone.

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands

@awnlee jawking

I had to google 'puce' and your favorite online encyclopedia describes it as a "dark red or purple-brown color, a brownish purple or a dark reddish brown". After such an eloquent explanation I truly feel enlightened, or rather blinded.

'Livid' as a color is mostly referred to as a blue-gray hue ( RGB Color Code: #6699CC ). There also is a plant called Livid Amaranth, just to add to the confusion. However, SB's Merriam Webster link aside, I've never heard of 'livid' reffered to as red.

robberhands

@REP

The point is, as an author you should look out for the pitfalls of the language you use. Livid is a color and also a synonym for fury. Don't use it as a synonym for fury to explain a red-colored face.

Replies:   REP
Switch Blayde

@robberhands

I've never heard of 'livid' reffered to as red.


I never knew livid was a color. I thought it meant anger.

I also thought a person would get pale from fear and red from anger/rage. That's what happens in MY stories.

awnlee jawking

@robberhands

However, SB's Merriam Webster link aside, I've never heard of 'livid' reffered to as red.


OMG, you write porn but you've never described a clitoris as livid???

You haven't lived!

AJ

robberhands

@awnlee jawking

OMG, you write porn but you've never described a clitoris as livid???

I don't write porn, you uncouth knave! I write high-value literature but don't shy away from any aspect of life. Besides, none of my stories involved a furious clitoris.

awnlee jawking

@robberhands

none of my stories involved a furious clitoris.


A search found two SOL stories involving 'furious' clitorises, one of them mine. However I must confess to plagiarism - I first came across the expression in a piece by a fellow member of a writing group, a twenty-something woman who had an amazing repertoire of erotic expressions.

SOL also has two stories involving 'furious' cocks, neither of them mine ;)

AJ

REP

@robberhands

Don't use it as a synonym for fury to explain a red-colored face.


Why not?

You could tell by his red face that the boss was livid.

robberhands

@REP

Why not?

For the same reason, I wouldn't write 'the round square in the center of the town'. It isn't wrong, it just sounds silly to me. 'You could tell by his red face that the boss was blue-gray', also sounds silly to me.

PotomacBob

@awnlee jawking

the expression


The expression "the expression" is also plagiarism. Many before you have used "the" in writing.

samuelmichaels

@awnlee jawking

OL also has two stories involving 'furious' cocks, neither of them mine ;)


I've seen some angry roosters in my time!

REP

@robberhands

it just sounds silly to me


It does when you think of livid as a color, but its perfect when you remember livid is also an adjective for anger. 'You could tell by his red face that the boss was angry'

helmut_meukel
Updated:

@robberhands

I wouldn't write 'the round square in the center of the town'


Would you then write 'the circus in the center of the town'?

Question to the Brits here:
Do you know of other places named circus apart from Piccadilly Circus, Cambridge Circus and Oxford Circus (all in London)?

Wikipedia simply states

Circus, a United Kingdom term for a circular road junction, such as "Piccadilly Circus"


HM.

Typo edited

Replies:   awnlee jawking  joyR
Keet

@robberhands

For the same reason, I wouldn't write 'the round square in the center of the town'. It isn't wrong, it just sounds silly to me.

Sounds silly to me too. It's either round or it's square, not both at the same time ;)

Replies:   richardshagrin
awnlee jawking

@robberhands

If you choose to eschew the use of 'livid', meaning red-faced with rage, because of its original and now niche meaning of blue-gray, that's your choice. But I don't think you should advise other writers to do the same.

(I've watched too many episodes of 'Bones' recently, but I still have no idea what 'lividity is fixed' means.)

AJ

awnlee jawking
Updated:

@robberhands

I wouldn't write 'the round square in the center of the town'.


I vaguely remember an antediluvian maths teacher telling us that there was no such thing as a perfect circle in nature, and a square is just a simple approximation. Not as simple as a triangle, but simpler than a hexagon.

Does your renewed presence presage a new chapter of 'The Black Rabbit'?

AJ

awnlee jawking

@helmut_meukel

A quick google turned up a few more, also in London.

Ludgate Circus.
Finsbury Circus.
Holborn Circus.

I also came across Heybarnes Circus in Birmingham, which I'd never heard of despite living there for a time. I suspect they're limited to the largest cities.

AJ

joyR

@helmut_meukel

Question to the Brits here:
Do you know of other places named circus apart from Piccadilly Circus, Cambridge Circus and Oxford Circus (all in London)?


Yes. For example;

Royal Circus, Edinburgh
Hockley Circus, Birmingham
Showell Circus, Wolverhampton
Middleton Park Circus, Leeds
Wellington Circus, Nottingham

robberhands

@awnlee jawking

If you choose to eschew the use of 'livid', meaning red-faced with rage, because of its original and now niche meaning of blue-gray, that's your choice. But I don't think you should advise other writers to do the same.

You're missing the point. I don't choose one meaning, I'm aware of both meanings of the term 'livid'. The meaning of the term as a blue-gray color is the reason I wouldn't use it to interpret a red face.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@robberhands

And in a current, ahem, work, I won't describe a character's blue-grey eyes as livid because of its modern-day interpretation as 'red'.

AJ

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands
Updated:

@awnlee jawking

I won't describe a character's blue-grey eyes as livid because of its modern-day interpretation as 'red'.

I'm unaware the 'modern-day' meaning of 'livid' is red.

ETA: Here is a list of synonyms and antonyms of 'livid from Thesaurus.com:

Synonyms:
Ashy, blanched, bloodless, colorless, discolored, dusky, gloomy, greyish, grisly, leaden, lurid, murky, pallid, pasty, wan, waxen

Antonyms:
Blushing, brilliant, cheerful, flushed, happy, radiant, rosy

Replies:   awnlee jawking
richardshagrin

@Keet

It's either round or it's square, not both at the same time


Be there or be "square," because you are not "a-round"

Replies:   Dominions Son
Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

OMG, you write porn but you've never described a clitoris as livid???

A 'livid' clitoris, meaning dark blue and blackish, as in recently bruised and battered. Doesn't sound comfortable at all.

Crumbly Writer

@robberhands

Besides, none of my stories involved a furious clitoris.

In general, I'd say that corns are much more furious/livid than are clitorides, who mostly sit in the dark, with no one to play with most of the time.

awnlee jawking

@robberhands

From the Collins dictionary:

2. adjective
Something that is livid is an unpleasant dark purple or red colour.
The scarred side of his face was a livid red.


AJ

Replies:   robberhands
Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

SOL also has two stories involving 'furious' cocks, neither of them mine

Now that analogy works better, as an excited penis takes on a purplish (not red) color, the veins stand out and it visibly throbs, similar to how the veins in someone's temples do when they loose their temper.

Clitorides extend, and get somewhat darker, but aren't nearly as demonstrative. They (the clitorides themselves), also don't 'explode' the way penises do.

Crumbly Writer

@REP

Why not?

You could tell by his red face that the boss was livid.

Why? Because once again, it's a cliche used to avoid putting any work into actually describing what's happening. Rather than simply saying "he was livid, his face crimson', describe the sweat on his brow, his pulsing, darkening veins, his trembling lips and his contracting pupils. Once you've done that, there's no reason to TELL the readers what's happening, since they'll know intuitively.

In the end, the association between 'livid' and 'red' is nothing more than a 'trigger phrase', saving the author from bothering with successfully developing a scene.

Replies:   REP
Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

(I've watched too many episodes of 'Bones' recently, but I still have no idea what 'lividity is fixed' means.)

It means there's 'no remaining sign of life in the tissue' (i.e. it's all 'livid', a dull gray), showing it's no longer 'living' but dead. In short, you can't 'rub the sample' to get the blood flowing. With the recently deceased, you can sometimes get the tissue to respond, as corpses frequently burp, fart, twitch and even jump (heavy twitch).

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Crumbly Writer

Thanks!

AJ

Switch Blayde

Her faced turned red. She was obviously livid ...


Getting back to "Her faced turned red. She was obviously livid ..."

I never knew livid was a color and would never use it as a color, whether it be pale-blue or red. Livid to me means anger/rage.

So, for me, there's nothing wrong with the sentence. The first part is talking about the color of the face while the second part is talking about why the face was red.

robberhands
Updated:

@awnlee jawking

2. adjective

Something that is livid is an unpleasant dark purple or red colour.

The scarred side of his face was a livid red.

That's no definition, it's floundering nonsense. According to this definition, 'livid' already is a red color. Then what is a livid red? A red red? Or maybe a dark purple red? Most probably the author retreated to the other meaning of 'livid' - furious. So a 'livid red' is a furious red but fury is no color.

Anyhow, I never said it's wrong to write "His face turned red. He obviously was livid." These two sentences are shit for altogether different reasons than the dubious hue of the color livid.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@robberhands

His face turned red. He obviously was livid.


I think you'd have to work hard to provide a context where the short, snappy sentences would be appropriate:

"Will you sell me your daughter for two goats?"

His face turned red. He obviously was livid. "My much loved daughter is not for sale at any price!" he spat.

"Two camels," I countered.

"Welcome to the family, my son."


AJ

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands

@awnlee jawking

"His face turned red" was a shallow attempt of showing a physical expression of anger - a failed attempt. Why was it a failed attempt? Because in the next sentence the author felt the need to explain what he attempted to show, and he even calls it 'obvious'.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@robberhands

Why was it a failed attempt?


It was a failed attempt because a red face can be for a number of reasons: embarrassment, orgasm, emotions disrupting the disguise of a devil ...

AJ

PotomacBob

@awnlee jawking

I read somewhere that the main character in "Bones" is based on a real woman.

REP
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


Livid is a color and also a synonym for fury. Don't use it as a synonym for fury to explain a red-colored face.


You need to consider why the statement was made; before you jump on the statement as a cliché.

Robberhands made the above statement. My response was "Why not?" with an example of how it could be used as a synonym for fury to explain a red-colored face.

helmut_meukel

@PotomacBob

Wikipedia:

Brennan is loosely based on author Kathy Reichs. Her name originates from the heroine in Reichs's crime novel series, also named Temperance Brennan. The main similarity the two share is their occupation as forensic anthropologists.

IMHO, the occupation, name and nickname are the only similarities the two share. The book Bones is decades older, was married, has a daughter, has never worked at the Jeffersonian Institute and has another personality.
As a fan of the TV Bones I was shocked when I read the first book. I tried hard to separate the two characters in my mind, but failed and after seven books stopped reading the books.

BTW, the author Kathy Reichs is a forensic anthropologist herself.

HM.

awnlee jawking

@PotomacBob

I read somewhere that the main character in "Bones" is based on a real woman.


The series is based on the somewhat autobiographical books by Kathy Reichs, herself a forensic anthropologist.

Much as I enjoy the TV dramas, much of the 'science' is 'entertainment' rather than accurate. And I'm sure that in real life, criminologists would much rather have a whole body to process than the all-important set of bones plus some irrelevant flesh which is usually portrayed as only getting in the way.

AJ

Dominions Son

@richardshagrin

Be there or be "square," because you are not "a-round"


Clearly you are neither a boxing nor a professional wrestling fan, as you are clearly unfamiliar with the "squared circle", a reference to a boxing/wrestling ring, as they are square but called rings.

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