lily livered
Laura
What ore the origins of the phrase "Lily Livered" referring to a cowardly person?
AdSumADS
The semantic connection is to courage being symbolically related to blood. A lily liver is one colored as the flower, white, instead of a deep red-brown, and hence, bloodless, and so associated with a cowardly person. The fragility of the of the flower and utility of the liver to detoxify blood lends to the focal meaning of the expression. The liver is also especially visceral/carnal/vulgar and so finds an analogue in the modern connection between courage and "balls," though this also relies on a cultural acceptance of courage as a specifically manly virtue. I haven't found a specific etymological reference.
anna
there is a reference to lily-livered in Shakespeare's Macbeth 5:3:15,

go prick thy face and over-red thy fear,
though lily livered boy.

maybe he made it up, or maybe not!!

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