“Bruise” as a word referring to a color
Posted: 07 August 2019 09:21 AM   [ Ignore ]
Total Posts:  402
Joined  2012-01-10

I was reading an editorial in Huffpo when I found a use of the word “bruise” that seems strange to me.  The sentence was, “Days fade from bright to bruise as they sit at their computers, happily held hostage by alternative facts.” The author is discussing her in-laws, and is concerned about the effect her in-laws’ political views could have on the author’s young children. (I am not trying to use this post to discuss politics: I mention the context only to give background regarding the quote. And my only interest in the quote is its use of “bruise.”)

“Bruise” is clearly being used to refer to the color of the sky, presumably in the late afternoon or early evening. I am not sure if this is an established use of the word that I am unfamiliar with, or if the author is just using it metaphorically. If it is a metaphor it doesn’t seem to be a commonly used one, though perhaps it is and I just haven’t seen it. But if it is just being used as a one-off metaphor, it seems like a strange choice, as both bruises and the sky can take on many colors. It also seems strange to me to just drop “bruise” into the sentence this way, without overt signaling that it is a metaphor and without more of a clue as to the intended meaning, if it is not a well-established metaphor.

I checked a few on-like dictionaries (AHD, Oxford, and Dictionary.com), and also tried googling, and could find no evidence of a sense of “bruise” as short hand for a specific color. I also couldn’t find evidence of it being a regularly used metaphor for the color of the sky.

Has anyone else seen anything like this before?

Posted: 07 August 2019 11:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Total Posts:  451
Joined  2007-02-13

Perhaps the author was going for alliteration but wanted to avoid using the word “brown” in a negative context, for political reasons.  A sky or landscape can become “embrowned” at dusk so I think you could call the sky brown at that time of day, depending on context.

Posted: 07 August 2019 12:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Total Posts:  6939
Joined  2007-01-03

The OED does have the compound bruise-colored under bruise, n. It’s a purplish or bluish color, so I think the writer was referring to later in the evening, when the red of the sunset darkens into a purple or blue.


(I am not trying to use this post to discuss politics: I mention the context only to give background regarding the quote. And my only interest in the quote is its use of “bruise.”)

There is nothing wrong with mentioning politics or discussing political terms on this forum. What I don’t want to happen is for this forum to turn into a place where people are expressing political opinions and getting into political squabbles with the attendant problems that such discussions on the internet have.

[ Edited: 07 August 2019 12:48 PM by Dave Wilton ]
Posted: 07 August 2019 12:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Total Posts:  557
Joined  2007-02-24

It has a poetic feel to it. Skies will turn into all sorts of colors in the evening, but they are usually always darker than “bright”, much like a bruise on lighter skinned people or fruit.

Dave beat me to it.

Posted: 07 August 2019 11:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
Total Posts:  1398
Joined  2007-03-01

I would routinely understand ‘bruise-coloured’ to mean the purplish-blue-grey of a bruise, and one often (here in the UK, anyway) sees that colour in the sky.

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