I googled for this sentence, but I surprisingly found very few results. Is this sentence idiomatically wrong?

Also, is there an adjective that is related to both "thickness, oiliness" and vulgarity or sexuality, something similar to "Her oily smile" but only related to lewdness?

The context where I want to use this is the following:

The interior was all red, and the women were all heavily made-up. Their voices were lewd.

5 Answers 5


I would say that idiomatically speaking, no, this is not a viable phrase. I've never come across this. On the same token it is mechanically correct because it's an adjective. You should therefore feel free to go ahead and use it and join the small ranks of other people that you found using it, too.

With regard to your second query, I think the word you're looking for is "husky":

The interior was all red, and the women were all heavily made-up. Their voices were husky.

  • 1
    I don't think that husky is the right word here. Husky voices ain't necessarily sexy, but they are rough, robust, & sometimes grating. Lauren Bacall had a husky voice, but it wasn't lewd.
    – user264
    Commented Apr 8, 2013 at 13:40
  • I chose "husky" because of how often it appears in both the circumstances and genre the question makes reference to. Commented Apr 8, 2013 at 13:46
  • Yes, it's a cliche. That's why Soulz should not use it. His ideas about what to say and how to say it don't seem to welcome cliched remarks. That's why I answer his questions. They're interesting. Cliches aren't.
    – user264
    Commented Apr 8, 2013 at 13:50
  • Yet clichés are important to be aware of when learning a second language. Artistically they may not be interesting, but communicatively, they can be quite useful for the L2 learner/writer. Commented Apr 8, 2013 at 13:54
  • True enough, but Soulz is a writer, so I treat him as a writer rather than as a typical EFL student.
    – user264
    Commented Apr 8, 2013 at 14:07

Google Ngram Viewer shows hits for "lewd voice" and "lewd voices" from 1800 until today, so it certainly isn't unusual.

If you've read enough English literature, you'll find myriad phrases that make sense in context, are grammatical, are semantically acceptable (even if the metaphor is a stretch), and aren't necessarily idiomatic in the sense that they're commonplace expressions. There's nothing wrong with the English, but that doesn't mean that everyone reading it will like it, in which case they will say "It's not good" or "It's not proper" or "It's weird". I don't think it's weird at all. It conjures a clear image for me.

You can probably use smarmy or unctuous or lubricious for "oily" related to lewdness.


Lewd can be used as adjective to describe (for example) photos, remarks, song parodies, laughters, or jokes. If I would read "Their voices were lewd." I would understand that as "Their voices were obscene." probably said in a figurative way.

  • 1
    "Obscene" is one synonym, but so are "lascivious" and "salacious".
    – user264
    Commented Apr 8, 2013 at 13:39

It's not an idiom, but it is certainly a valid usage.

The phrase the "interior was all red, and the women were all heavily made-up" focuses the reader on the women's faces. "Their voices were lewd" further focuses on the source of their voices -- their mouths. "Lewd" has several connotations. The author is leading the reader but still letting them form their own conception of what a lewd voice might be, and what it implies of the women. I think it's a fantastic usage.


Gramatically speaking, it sounds correct, we are not just assuming that is correct, but it can also be understood just by pronouncing it either from a sentence or a statement.

  • 1
    I'm not sure I understand how pronunciation is involved. Could you edit your post to explain that a bit?
    – Em.
    Commented Jul 27, 2019 at 23:38

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