In The Deptford Trilogy by Robertson Davies there is a passage referring to the memories of a character who is, essentially, crazy and I can't tell whether or not the term "blue mouth" is literal or if it has some figurative meaning:

She hasn't any idea of the past, except for horrible mixed-up memories of being tied up, and Paul disappearing, and Amasa -- she always remembers him with a blue mouth, like a rotten hole in his face-- telling God he forgave her for ruining his life.

I'm confident the urban dictionary definition isn't applicable here, but don't know if anything else fits. The story takes place in Canada circa 1920's.

  • 2
    The likelihood of a literal meaning seems to be reinforced by the subsequent visual metaphor, "like a rotten hole in his face". If "blue mouth" were meant as a figure of speech, it seems inapt to add a visual description that locates it on the face.
    – hardmath
    Commented Jul 26, 2013 at 14:39
  • @hardmath Makes sense, I don't really understand the reason as to why it's true, but I guess it's difficult to find logic in illogical thought! Commented Jul 26, 2013 at 15:14
  • @batpigandme Maybe you were reading The Witches?
    – Amory
    Commented Jul 26, 2013 at 18:26
  • @Amory no, loved the book as a kid, but the movie scarred me for life! Commented Jul 27, 2013 at 1:01

1 Answer 1



EDIT: Below is the idiomatic meaning of "blue mouth". As a user kindly pointed out, in the OP's excerpt of the story, the real meaning is not the one which I had originally thought.

A blue mouth is someone who swears and/or talks "dirty" sometimes using words of a strong sexual nature. In fact, the word blue was used in the past to talk about pornographic films; a blue movie.

See under Thesaurus Adj. Free Dictionary

4. blue - characterized by profanity or cursing; "foul-mouthed and blasphemous"; "blue language"; "profane words" profane, blasphemous dirty - (of behavior or especially language) characterized by obscenity or indecency; "dirty words"; "has a dirty mouth" [...]

5. blue - suggestive of sexual impropriety; "a blue movie"; "blue jokes"; "naughty words"; "a risque story"; naughty, risque, spicy, racy, juicy sexy - marked by or tending to arouse sexual desire or interest; [...]

  • I'm missing the context in the OP's example that leads me precisely to your meaning. How do we know it's not meant literally like when someone is cyanotic? Commented Jul 26, 2013 at 13:16
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    I've edited my answer, many thanks for your comment.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jul 26, 2013 at 13:27
  • Re “THIS IS NOT THE ANSWER” ... What is the answer? Commented Jul 26, 2013 at 13:54
  • It does answer the question of whether it has a figurative meaning (yes), it just doesn't apply in this case. Thanks. Commented Jul 26, 2013 at 15:13
  • Thanks, I was quite surprised by the upvotes, tell the truth.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jul 26, 2013 at 15:16

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