WORD LOVE: Lurid

15 seconds of fame for deserving words

Word Love, a new column for The Outlet, proposes to take a quick look at some of the more expressive, playful, beautiful and eye-opening words available to us in the English language. It hopes you will put them to good use, whatever medium of communication you happen to choose.

Lurid (adj.): Not just for pulp fiction or Robert Murdoch publications, lurid may be freely used as appropriate for all your descriptions of shocking events, sallow tones or fire scenes.

Definitions:

Lurid, such a juicy and somewhat sullied word, has several definitions and connotations that invariably cast a long shadow of inappropriateness. It is most known as a) causing horror or revulsion, b) melodramatic or sensational, or c) shocking. Relating more directly to its Latin root (luridus, meaning pale yellow or sallow), lurid may also refer to a wan or pale appearance or to a range of colors ranging from washed-out yellow to pale orange — perhaps not unlike those who have spent the summer toiling away in a vaguely air-conditioned office. Most appropriate at this particular moment in August, lurid may also mean shining with the red glow of fire seen through smoke or cloud (or urban haze, depending on your location).

Examples in literature and life:

Vanity plays lurid tricks with our memory. –Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad

Good God, will this lurid heat ever end? — Me, in Texas, after 19 days of 100+ degree temperatures

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— Victoria Ludwin is a writer living in Houston, Texas. Her fiction and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in BOMB, Intellectual Refuge, Salt Hill Journal, the River Oak Review and elsewhere. Like everyone, she’s writing a novel.

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