use-icon

HOW TO USE THE DICTIONARY

To look up an entry in The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, use the search window above. For best results, after typing in the word, click on the “Search” button instead of using the “enter” key.

Some compound words (like bus rapid transit, dog whistle, or identity theft) don’t appear on the drop-down list when you type them in the search bar. For best results with compound words, place a quotation mark before the compound word in the search window.

guide to the dictionary

use-icon

THE USAGE PANEL

The Usage Panel is a group of nearly 200 prominent scholars, creative writers, journalists, diplomats, and others in occupations requiring mastery of language. Annual surveys have gauged the acceptability of particular usages and grammatical constructions.

The Panelists

puzzle-icon

NEED HELP SOLVING A CROSSWORD PUZZLE?

Go to our Crossword Puzzle Solver and type in the letters that you know, and the Solver will produce a list of possible solutions.

open-icon

AMERICAN HERITAGE DICTIONARY APP

The new American Heritage Dictionary app is now available for iOS and Android.

scroll-icon

THE AMERICAN HERITAGE DICTIONARY BLOG

The articles in our blog examine new words, revised definitions, interesting images from the fifth edition, discussions of usage, and more.

100-words-icon

See word lists from the best-selling 100 Words Series!

Find out more!

open-icon

INTERESTED IN DICTIONARIES?

Check out the Dictionary Society of North America at http://www.dictionarysociety.com

lu·rid (lrĭd)
Share:
adj.
1.
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.
2.
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: “An early work of Caravaggio's, this self-portrait shows the artist's lurid pallor after being hospitalized” (Rachel Shirley).

[Latin lūridus, pale, from lūror, paleness.]

lurid·ly adv.
lurid·ness n.

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.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices

    Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:

    Indo-European Roots

    Semitic Roots

    The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.

This website is best viewed in Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, or Safari. Some characters in pronunciations and etymologies cannot be displayed properly in Internet Explorer.