Does the word “livid” EVER mean “grey like ashes” as it did originally? Or has the meaning completely switched to “angry red”?
More specifically, it has come to mean “furiously angry” not necessarily “angry red.” Although many people do get red when they get furiously angry, it’s not so much about the color as about the emotion.
OED says that this usage started in the early 20th century. It is now their first definition, ahead of “dark bluish grey in color.” This is the meaning still in use, I believe, in such medical terms as “lividity.”
I’ve never associated the word with color red (or any other color, for that matter, although it does appear to mean bluish/leaden from the fifteenth century through the early 1900s.) Etymology here.
Casually looking through Google books and 19th century sources shows exclusively examples where the word means bluish , purplish, or pale.
ETA: oh, wait, you mean now? I guess i haven’t heard it to mean anything but furious.
OK, this makes sense - the old meaning survives as a technical/jargon term, but otherwise the new meaning (which I made a wrong assumption about) has completely taken over.
You’ll still hear “a livid bruise”.
I find a few cases–almost all from fiction, by the way–where it’s used to indicate intense red or other colors. (“The majority of his head looked like a rump roast, livid, red.”; “…the sun, ashamed when she saw what she had done, blushed a livid red-brown forever.”, etc.) As mentioned above, this surely came by association from the meaning of intensely angry, so people are using it to say that a color is intense, even though ashen is the opposite. It’s mostly used predicatively, however (to mean furious).
I don’t think this is so complicated, or that there is a new meaning taking over. If someone is really pissed off, it is easy to imagine their face turning a livid colour. (Like a bruise.)
If someone is really pissed off, urine is rarely, other than coincidentally, involved.
Do you have a cite for grey? Wiktionary has its roots in PIE for bluish.
From the OED:
Late Middle English (in the sense ‘of a bluish leaden colour’): from French livide or Latin lividus, from livere ‘be bluish’.
My 1922 Shorter OED goes on to say “Discoloured as by a bruise; black and blue” and cites Francis Bacon (early 17th century) as a source for the connection with bruising
I’m not sure I’ve ever heard the word ‘livid’ to mean anything other than ‘furious/angry’. Never heard ‘livid’ in the context its earlier usage. ‘Livididy,’ oh, definitely, but not ‘livid’ by itself. Maybe it’s more common among medical types.