Use the word ashen to describe the pale face of someone who is shocked and upset. Your best friend might look ashen when he hears that his favorite baseball team traded its star player.

The adjective ashen was first used to describe ashes, the powdery substance left over when something burns, but it soon came to mean things that have the same pale, lifeless color as ashes. Like wood or coal that starts out brown or black and loses all color in the ashes that remain, things that are ashen are pale, washed out, or even colorless. Ashen is most often applied to the complexions of those facing stressful situations.

Definitions of ashen
  1. adjective
    anemic looking from illness or emotion
    “a face turned ashen
    synonyms: blanched, bloodless, livid, white
    colorless, colourless
    weak in color; not colorful
  2. adjective
    made of wood of the ash tree
    made of or containing or resembling wood
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