Printable Version
Pronunciation: -lid Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Abnormally pale, wan, ashen, lacking color, as 'a pallid complexion'. 2. Dull, dreary, insipid, humdrum, lackluster, uninteresting, as 'pallid prose'.

Notes: Pale or pallid? Pale is the more general term; pallid is more appropriate for those Europeans who are paler than usual for whatever reason. The best noun reflecting the sense of this adjective is pallor. Pallidity and pallidness are lesser ones.

In Play: It is most often used in relation to the human European face: "Lucinda Head's cheeks would have been deathly pallid if not for the rouge heavily plastered over them." It may be, however, used in the second sense elsewhere: "Her anemic, pallid, unimaginative way of speaking didn't help matters."

Word History: Today's Good Word is a remodeling of Latin pallidus "pale, colorless", based on the root of pallere "to be pale". This word was passed down from PIE pel-/pol- "pale", which passed through its Germanic ancestors and arrived in English as fallow. English borrowed falcon from Latin falco(n), which borrowed it as something like falkon "gray bird" from some Germanic language. We see its remnants in Sanskrit palitah "gray" and panduh "pale" and Greek polios "gray", as in poliomyelitis "gray marrow disease". It also appears in words for "pigeon"; in Greek we find peleia and in Latin, palumbes.

Dr. Goodword,

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