Today, the word livid has two definitions: "furious" and "pale". Both of these interpretations can be traced back to the same Old French word: livide, which meant "blueish". While we may not call someone "blue with rage" nowadays, that's exactly what they did back in the thirteenth century, and the meaning soon got extended to anger. Nobody's quite sure how "blue" turned into "pale" for the second definition we use today, but a shift from one color to another is not all that strange. This all comes from the Latin word lividus, which "bluish" or even "black and blue", and in turn is from the verb livere, meaning "to be bluish". Due to centuries of soft pronunciation, this had lost the s that originally preceded it, making the true Latin etymon slivere. This, through Proto-Italic sliwo, comes from the reconstructed Proto-Indo-European root sleia, which still had connotations of the color "blue". Usage of the word livid has surprisingly decreased almost 85% since its peak in the 1770s.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a rising junior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.