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    lavatory (n.) — learnable (adj.)

    lavatory (n.)

    late 14c., "washbasin," from Late Latin lavatorium "place for washing," noun use of neuter of Latin adjective lavatorius "pertaining to washing," from lavat-, past participle stem of lavare "to wash," from PIE root *leue- "to wash." Sense of "washroom" is first attested 1650s; as a euphemism for "toilet, W.C.," it is attested by 1864. Related: Lavatorial.ETD lavatory (n.).2

    lave (v.)

    c. 1200 (transitive), from Old English lafian "wash by pouring water on, pour (water)," possibly an early Anglo-Saxon or West Germanic borrowing (compare Dutch laven, German laben) of Latin lavare "to wash," or its Old French descendant, laver, or some confusion in English of the two. Latin lavare is from PIE root *leue- "to wash."ETD lave (v.).2

    lavender (n.)

    "fragrant plant of the mint family," c. 1300, from Anglo-French lavendre, Old French lavendre "the lavender plant," from Medieval Latin lavendula "lavender" (10c.), perhaps from Latin lividus "bluish, livid" (see livid). If so, it probably was associated with French lavande, Italian lavanda "a washing" (from Latin lavare "to wash;" from PIE root *leue- "to wash") because it was used to scent washed fabrics and as a bath perfume.ETD lavender (n.).2

    The adjective meaning "of a pale purple color, of the color of lavender flowers" is from 1840; as a noun in the color sense from 1882. An identical Middle English word meant "laundress, washerwoman;" also, apparently, "prostitute, whore; camp follower" and is attested as a surname from early 13c.ETD lavender (n.).3

    lavish (adj.)

    "spending or bestowing profusely," mid-15c., laves, from Old French lavasse, lavache (n.) "a torrent of rain, deluge" (15c.), from laver "to wash," from Latin lavare "to wash" (from PIE root *leue- "to wash"). Related: Lavishly; lavishness.ETD lavish (adj.).2

    lavish (v.)

    "spend or bestow profusely," 1540s, from lavish (adj.). Related: Lavished; lavisher; lavishing.ETD lavish (v.).2

    lawful (adj.)

    c. 1300, laghful, "rightful, supported by law" (of sanctions, etc.); see law (n.) + -ful. Meaning "allowed by law" is late 14c. Similar construction in Old Norse logfullr. Old English had lahlic. Related: Lawfully; lawfulness.ETD lawful (adj.).2

    law (n.)

    Old English lagu (plural laga, combining form lah-) "ordinance, rule prescribed by authority, regulation; district governed by the same laws;" also sometimes "right, legal privilege," from Old Norse *lagu "law," collective plural of lag "layer, measure, stroke," literally "something laid down, that which is fixed or set."ETD law (n.).2

    This is reconstructed to be from Proto-Germanic *lagam "put, lay" (from PIE root *legh- "to lie down, lay"). The modern word is thus a twin of lay (n.2) as "that which is set or established."ETD law (n.).3

    Rare in Old English, it ousted the more usual ae and also gesetnes, which also were etymologically "something placed or set."ETD law (n.).4

    In physics, "a proposition which expresses the regular order of things," from 1660s. Law and order have been coupled since 1796. To lay down the law (1752) is pleonastic (the "law" in the figure is biblical law, laid down from the pulpit). Poor laws provided for the support of paupers at public expense; sumptuary laws restrained excesses in apparel, food, or luxuries.ETD law (n.).5

    It is more common for Indo-European languages to use different words for "a specific law" and for "law" in the general sense of "institution or body of laws," for example Latin lex "a law," ius "a right," especially "legal right, law."ETD law (n.).6

    Indo-European words for "a law" are most commonly from verbs for "to put, place, set, lay," such as Greek thesmos (from tithemi "to put, place"), Old English dom (from PIE *dhe- "to put, place, set"), Lithuanian įstatymas (from statyti "cause to stand, set up, establish"), Polish ustawa (from stać "stand"). Also compare Old English gesetnes (above), statute, from Latin statuere; German Gesetz "a law, statute," from Old High German gisatzida "a fixing, determination, assessment," with sezzen (modern German setzen) "to make sit, set, put."ETD law (n.).7

    Words for "law" in the general sense mostly mean etymologically "what is right" and often are connected with adjectives for "right" (themselves often figurative uses of words for "straight," "upright," "true," "fitting," or "usage, custom." Such are Greek nomos (as in numismatic); French droit, Spanish derecho, from Latin directus; Polish prawo, Russian pravo (from Old Church Slavonic pravŭ "straight," in the daughter languages "right"); also Old Norse rettr, Old English riht, Dutch recht, German Recht (see right (adj.1)).ETD law (n.).8

    law (v.)

    1640s, "to litigate," from law (n.). Old English had lagian "make a law, ordain." Related: Lawed; lawing.ETD law (v.).2

    law-abiding (adj.)

    "obedient to the laws," 1828, from law (n.) + abiding.ETD law-abiding (adj.).2

    law-breaker (n.)

    also lawbreaker, mid-15c., from law (n.) + agent noun from break (v.). Old English had lahbreca.ETD law-breaker (n.).2

    law-giver (n.)

    also lawgiver, "one who makes or enacts a code of laws," late 14c., from law (n.) + agent noun from give (v.).ETD law-giver (n.).2

    lawless (adj.)

    c. 1200, lawelese "uncontrolled by law of any kind," from law (n.) + -less. Meaning "illegal" is from c. 1300. Related: Lawlessly; lawlessness.ETD lawless (adj.).2

    lawmaker (n.)

    also law-maker, "legislator," late 15c., from law (n.) + maker.ETD lawmaker (n.).2

    lawman (n.)

    1530s, "lawyer," from law (n.) + man (n.). Meaning "law-enforcement officer" is from 1865. Old English had lahmann "an official or declarer of the law, one acquainted with the law and qualified to declare it," a word from Old Norse. There is an Anglo-Latin lagamannus "magistrate" from early 12c., hence the proper name of Layamon, author of the "Brut."ETD lawman (n.).2

    lawn (n.1)

    "turf, stretch of grass," 1540s, laune "glade, open space in a forest or between woods," from Middle English launde (c. 1300), from Old French lande "heath, moor, barren land; clearing" (12c.), from Gaulish (compare Breton lann "heath"), or from a cognate Germanic word, from Proto-Germanic *landam-, source of English land (n.). The -d perhaps was mistaken for an affix and dropped. Sense of "grassy ground kept mowed" first recorded 1733. Lawn-tennis is from 1884.ETD lawn (n.1).2

    lawn (n.2)

    "thin linen or cotton cloth," early 15c., probably from Laon, city in northern France, a center of linen manufacture. The town name is Old French Lan, from Latin Laudunum, of Celtic origin. For form evolution, compare fawn (n.) from faon. Lawn sleeves (1630s) were emblematic of Anglican bishops.ETD lawn (n.2).2

    lawn-mower (n.)

    1853 as a type of machine to cut grass, from lawn (n.1) + mower. Originally pushed by hand or drawn by horses, later also powered by a motor.ETD lawn-mower (n.).2

    lawn-sprinkler (n.)

    1872, from lawn (n.1) + sprinkler.ETD lawn-sprinkler (n.).2


    see Laurence.ETD Lawrence.2

    lawrencium (n.)

    1961, Modern Latin, from the name of Ernest O. Lawrence (1901-1958), U.S. physicist, cyclotron pioneer and founder of the lab where it was discovered. With metallic element ending -ium.ETD lawrencium (n.).2

    lawsuit (n.)

    1620s, from law (n.) + suit (n.).ETD lawsuit (n.).2

    lawyer (n.)

    late 14c. lauier, lawer, lawere (mid-14c. as a surname), "one versed in law, one whose profession is suits in court or client advice on legal rights," from Middle English lawe "law" (see law) + -iere. Spelling with -y- predominated from 17c. (see -yer). In the New Testament (Luke xiv.3, etc.) "interpreter of Mosaic law." Old English had lahwita, with wita "sage, wise man; adviser councilor," and an earlier Middle English word for "lawyer" was man-of-law (mid-14c.). Related: Lawyerly.ETD lawyer (n.).2

    laxative (adj.)

    late 14c., "causing relaxation or looseness," from Old French laxatif (13c.), from Medieval Latin laxativus "loosening," from Latin laxat-, past participle stem of laxare "loosen," from laxus "loose, lax" (see lax). The noun meaning "a laxative medicine, a medicine that relieves constipation by relaxing the intestines" is from late 14c.ETD laxative (adj.).2

    lax (n.)

    "salmon," from Old English leax (see lox). Cognate with Middle Dutch lacks, German Lachs, Danish laks, etc.; according to OED the English word was obsolete except in the north and Scotland from 17c., reintroduced in reference to Scottish or Norwegian salmon.ETD lax (n.).2

    lax (n. 1)

    1951 as an abbreviation of lacrosse.ETD lax (n. 1).2

    lax (adj.)

    c. 1400, "loose" (in reference to bowels), from Latin laxus "wide, spacious, roomy," figuratively "loose, free, wide" (also used of indulgent rule and low prices), from PIE *lag-so-, suffixed form of root *sleg- "be slack, be languid."ETD lax (adj.).2

    In English, of rules, discipline, etc., from mid-15c. Related: Laxly; laxness. A transposed Vulgar Latin form yielded Old French lasche, French lâche. The laxists, though they formed no avowed school, were nonetheless condemned by Innocent XI in 1679.ETD lax (adj.).3

    laxity (n.)

    1520s, from French laxité, from Latin laxitatem (nominative laxitas) "width, spaciousness," from laxus "loose, lax" (see lax). An earlier noun was laxation (late 14c.). Laxness is from 1630s.ETD laxity (n.).2

    layabout (n.)

    "habitual loafer," 1932, from the verbal phrase; see lay (v.) + about (adv.). One who "lays about" the house, etc.ETD layabout (n.).2

    lay-away (n.)

    also lay-away, 1961 in reference to a system of payments for reserved merchandise, from the verbal phrase (attested from c. 1400 as "to put away," especially "place in store for future use"); see lay (v.) + away (adv.). Earlier in the same sense, as an adjective, was Australian lay-by (1930).ETD lay-away (n.).2

    layer (n.)

    late 14c., "one who or that lays" (especially stones, "a mason"), agent noun from lay (v.). Passive sense of "a thickness of some material laid over a surface" is first recorded 1610s, but because the earliest English use was in cookery this is perhaps from French liue "binding," used of a thickened sauce. Of hens from 1707. Layer cake attested from 1875.ETD layer (n.).2

    layer (v.)

    1832, in gardening, as a method of plant propagation, from layer (n.). Meaning "to form into layers" is from 1852. Related: Layered; layering.ETD layer (v.).2

    layette (n.)

    "newborn baby's outfit," 1839, from French layette, properly the box in which it comes, subsequently transferred to the linen, in Middle French "chest of drawers," from laie "drawer, box," from Middle Dutch laeye, which is related to lade, load (v.).ETD layette (n.).2

    layman (n.)

    "non-cleric," early 15c., from lay (adj.) + man (n.). Similar formation in Old Frisian lekman, Danish lægmand. Meaning "outsider, unprofessional person, non-expert" (especially in regards to law or medicine) is from late 15c. Related: Laymen.ETD layman (n.).2

    layoff (n.)

    also lay-off, lay off; 1889, "rest, relaxation, respite;" from the verbal phrase; see lay (v.) + off (adv.). Via seasonal labor with periodic inactivity, it came to have a sense of "temporary release from employment," and by 1960s was being used somewhat euphemistically for permanent releases of masses of workers by employers. The verbal phrase lay off is attested from 1841 (colloquial) as "stop working, be idle" (intransitive); 1892 as "dismiss" (an employee); meaning "stop disturbing" is from 1908. Its oldest sense is "remove and lay aside, rid oneself of" (1590s).ETD layoff (n.).2

    layout (n.)

    also lay-out, "configuration, arrangement," 1852, from the verbal phrase; see lay (v.) + out (adv.). Meaning "rough design of a printing job" is from 1910. The verbal phrase is attested from c. 1400 as "expose to view, show, set forth;" mid-15c. as "to expend, lavish." The meaning "prepare (a corpse) for burial" is from 1590s and is said to be the source of the figurative sense "knock out; kill."ETD layout (n.).2

    layover (n.)

    also lay-over, "a stop overnight," 1873, from the verbal phrase; see lay (v.) + over (adv.). Earlier as "a cloth laid over a table-cloth" (1777). The verbal phrase is from 1530s as "to overlay."ETD layover (n.).2

    layperson (n.)

    1972, gender-neutral version of layman.ETD layperson (n.).2

    layup (n.)

    also lay-up, 1927, "temporary period out of work," from the verbal phrase; see lay (v.) + up (adv.). Compare layoff. Basketball shot so called by 1955, short for lay-up shot (1947). The verbal phrase is attested from mid-14c. as "store away," 1550s as "confine to one's bed or room" (of illness); of ships in docks, 1660s. Related: Laid-up.ETD layup (n.).2

    laywoman (n.)

    1520s, from lay (adj.) + woman; probably modeled on layman.ETD laywoman (n.).2

    lazar (n.)

    "filthy beggar, leper," c. 1300, from Medieval Latin lazarus "leper," from Lazarus (q.v.), the name of the beggar in the biblical parable. Sometimes also lazard, with pejorative suffix.ETD lazar (n.).2

    lazaretto (n.)

    "house for reception of lepers and diseased poor persons," 1540s, from Italian lazareto "place set aside for performance of quarantine" (especially that of Venice, which received many ships from plague-infested districts in the East), from the Biblical proper name Lazarus (q.v.). Meaning "building set apart for quarantine" is c. 1600 in English. The word in Italian was perhaps influenced by the name of another hospital in Venice, that associated with the church of Santa Maria di Nazaret. Sometimes Englished as lazaret; also known as lazar house (1520s).ETD lazaretto (n.).2


    Biblical character (Luke xvi.20), the poor man covered in sores; his name was extended in medieval times to "any poor and visibly diseased person." Compare lazar (n.), mid-14c., "one deformed and nauseous with filthy and pestilential diseases" [Johnson]. The name is from a Greek rendition of Hebrew El'azar, literally "(he whom) God has helped."ETD Lazarus.2


    brand of recliner chair, 1929, Floral City Furniture Co., Monroe, Michigan, U.S. According to company lore, chosen from names submitted in a contest. See lazy + boy.ETD La-Z-Boy.2

    laze (v.)

    1590s, back-formation from lazy. Related: Lazed; lazing.ETD laze (v.).2

    laziness (n.)

    1570s, from lazy + -ness.ETD laziness (n.).2

    lazy (adj.)

    1540s, laysy, of persons, "averse to labor, action, or effort," a word of unknown origin. In 19c. thought to be from lay (v.) as tipsy from tip. Skeat is responsible for the prevailing modern view that it probably comes from Low German, from a source such as Middle Low German laisch "weak, feeble, tired," modern Low German läösig, early modern Dutch leuzig, all of which may go back to the PIE root *(s)leg- "slack." According to Weekley, the -z- sound disqualifies a connection with French lassé "tired" or German lassig "lazy, weary, tired." A supposed dialectal meaning "naught, bad," if it is the original sense, may tie the word to Old Norse lasenn "dilapidated," lasmøyrr "decrepit, fragile," root of Icelandic las-furða "ailing," las-leiki "ailment."ETD lazy (adj.).2

    Replaced native slack, slothful, and idle as the usual word expressing the notion of averse to work. Lazy Susan is from 1917. Lazy-tongs is from 1785, "An instrument like a pair of tongs for old or very fat people, to take anything off the ground without stooping" [Grose, "Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue"]. In his 1788 edition, Grose has lazy man's load: "Lazy people frequently take up more than they can safely carry, to save the trouble of coming a second time."ETD lazy (adj.).3

    lazily (adv.)

    1580s, from lazy + -ly (2).ETD lazily (adv.).2

    lazuli (n.)

    1789, short for lapis lazuli.ETD lazuli (n.).2

    lazybones (n.)

    "idler," colloquial, 1590s, from lazy + plural of bone (n.). Another form was lazyboots (1831).ETD lazybones (n.).2

    lazzarone (n.)

    "Italian beggar," 1792, Italian, augmentative of lazzaro "a beggar, leper," from Lazarus (q.v.).ETD lazzarone (n.).2


    1973, initialism (acronym) from liquid crystal display, which is attested from 1968, from liquid crystal, a translation of German flüssiger krystall (1890).ETD LCD.2


    instrumental word-forming element, the usual modern form of -el (1), a suffix originally used in Old English to form agent nouns.ETD -le.2


    French masc. definite article (including the old neuter), fem. la, from Latin ille "he, that," used in Late Latin and Medieval Latin as the definite article. Cognate with Spanish el. Latin ille "that," illa "by that way, there," replaced Old Latin olle/ollus, perhaps by analogy with iste [de Vaan]; from PIE *hol-no- "that, yonder."ETD le.2

    lea (n.)

    Old English leah "open field, meadow, piece of untilled grassy ground," earlier læch, preserved in place names, from Proto-Germanic *lauhaz (source also of Old High German loh "clearing," and probably also Flemish -loo, which forms the second element in Waterloo), from PIE *louko- "light place" (source also of Sanskrit lokah "open space, free space, world," Latin lucus "grove, sacred grove, wood," Lithuanian laukas "open field, land"), from root *leuk- "to shine, be bright." The dative form is the source of many of the English surnames Lee, Leigh.ETD lea (n.).2

    leach (v.)

    "wash or drain by percolation of water, treat by downward drainage," by 1660s in cookery, perhaps from a dialectal survival from Old English leccan "to moisten, water, wet, irrigate," which, under Norse influence, became leak (v.). The word was used 18c. in technological senses, such as leach-trough, a device used in salt-works in which corns of salt taken from brine were set to drain dry, after which they were called leach-brine. Related: Leached; leaching. Hence leach (n.) "a preparation made by leaching or straining" (1630s), in later use especially "a separation of lye or alkali in solution."ETD leach (v.).2

    leachate (n.)

    "that which is formed by or results from leaching," 1920, from leach + -ate (1). The older noun was simply leach.ETD leachate (n.).2

    lead (v.2)

    early 15c., "to make of lead," from lead (n.1). Meaning "to cover with lead" is from mid-15c. In printing, 1841, also lead out.ETD lead (v.2).2

    leading (adj.)

    1590s, "that goes first," present-participle adjective from lead (v.1). Meaning "directing, guiding" is from 1620s. Of persons, "having first or most prominent place," 1670s. In reference to theatrical companies, leading lady is from 1846; leading man from 1847.ETD leading (adj.).2

    lead (n.2)

    c. 1300, "action of leading," from lead (v.1). Meaning "the front or leading place" is from 1560s. Johnson stigmatized it as "a low, despicable word." Sense in card-playing, "action or privilege of playing first," is from 1742; in theater, "the principal part," from 1831; in journalism, "initial summary of a news story," from 1912 (often spelled lede to distinguish it from lead (n.1), which formerly played a prominent role in typesetting. Boxing sense is from 1906. In jazz bands, from 1934 in reference to the principal parts; earlier it was used in music in reference to fugues (1880) of the part that takes off first and is "followed" by the others.ETD lead (n.2).2

    Meaning "direction given by example" (as in follow (someone's) lead) is by 1863, that of "a clue to a solution" is by 1851, both from the notion of "thing to be followed." As an adjective, "leading," by 1846. Lead-time "time needed to produce something" is 1945, American English.ETD lead (n.2).3

    leading (n.1)

    "lead work; lead covering or frame of lead," mid-15c., verbal noun from lead (n.1). Printing sense is from 1855.ETD leading (n.1).2

    lead (adj.)

    "made of or resembling lead," late 14c., from lead (n.1).ETD lead (adj.).2

    leading (n.2)

    mid-13c., "a bringing by force," verbal noun from lead (v.1). Meaning "direction, guidance" is from late 14c.ETD leading (n.2).2

    lead (v.1)

    "to guide," Old English lædan (transitive) "cause to go with oneself; march at the head of, go before as a guide, accompany and show the way; carry on; sprout forth, bring forth; pass (one's life)," causative of liðan "to travel," from Proto-Germanic *laidjanan (source also of Old Saxon lithan, Old Norse liða "to go," Old High German ga-lidan "to travel," Gothic ga-leiþan "to go"), from PIE *leit- (2) "to go forth."ETD lead (v.1).2

    Of roads, c. 1200. Meaning "to be in first place" is from late 14c. Intransitive sense, "act the part of a leader," is from 1570s. Sense in card playing, "to commence a round or trick," is from 1670s. Meaning "take the directing part in a musical performance or prayer" is from 1849. Related: Led; leading.ETD lead (v.1).3

    To lead with one's chin "leave oneself vulnerable in a contest" (1946) is a figure from boxing. To lead on "entice to advance" is from 1590s. To figuratively lead (someone) by the nose "guide by persuasion" is from 1580s, from draught animals (earlier lead by the sleeve, early 15c.). To lead (someone) a dance "compel through a course of irksome actions" is from 1520s.ETD lead (v.1).4

    lead (n.1)

    heavy metal, Old English lead "lead, leaden vessel," from West Germanic *lauda- (source also of Old Frisian lad, Middle Dutch loot, Dutch lood "lead," German Lot "weight, plummet"), a word of uncertain origin. The name and the skill in using the metal seem to have been borrowed from the Celts (compare Old Irish luaide).ETD lead (n.1).2

    Figurative of heaviness at least since early 14c. American English slang lead balloon "dismal failure" attested by 1957, perhaps 1940s (as a type of something heavy that can be kept up only with effort, from 1904). Lead-footed "slow" is from 1896; opposite sense of "fast" emerged 1940s in trucker's jargon, from notion of a foot heavy on the gas pedal.ETD lead (n.1).3

    Meaning "graphite in a pencil" is from 1816 (see pencil (n.)). Black lead was an old name for "graphite," hence lead pencil (1680s) and the colloquial figurative phrase to have lead in one's pencil "be possessed of (especially male sexual) vigor," attested by 1902. White lead (1560s) was an old name for "tin."ETD lead (n.1).4

    As a name of a dull bluish-gray color, 1610s. From 1590s as figurative for "bullets." Lead oxide was much used in glazing, mirror-making, and pigments. In printing, "thin strip of type-metal (often lead but sometimes brass) used in composition to separate lines" from 1808, earlier space-line. Lead-poisoning is from 1848; earlier lead-distemper (1774).ETD lead (n.1).5

    leaded (adj.)

    early 13c., "covered with lead," from lead (n.1). In reference to printed matter, "set with more than ordinary space between the lines," 1864. Of fuel, "with added lead," 1936.ETD leaded (adj.).2

    leaden (adj.)

    "made of lead," Old English leaden, from lead (n.1) + -en (2). The figurative sense of "heavy, oppressive, dull" is attested by 1570s. Related: Leadenly; leadenness.ETD leaden (adj.).2

    leader (n.)

    Old English lædere "one who leads, one first or most prominent," agent noun from lædan "to guide, conduct" (see lead (v.)). Cognate with Old Frisian ledera, Dutch leider, Old High German leitari, German Leiter. As a title for the head of an authoritarian state, from 1918 (translating Führer, Duce, caudillo, etc.). Meaning "writing or statement meant to begin a discussion or debate" is late 13c.; in modern use often short for leading article (1807) "opinion piece in a British newspaper" (leader in this sense attested from 1837). The golf course leader board so called from 1970.ETD leader (n.).2

    leaderless (adj.)

    1590s, from leader (n.1) + -less. Related: Leaderlessly; leaderlessness.ETD leaderless (adj.).2

    leadership (n.)

    1821, "position of a leader, command," from leader + -ship. Sense extended by late 19c. to "characteristics necessary to be a leader, capacity to lead."ETD leadership (n.).2

    lead-in (n.)

    1913, in electrical wiring, from verbal phrase; see lead (v.1) + in (adv.). General sense of "introduction, opening" is from 1928, originally in music.ETD lead-in (n.).2

    lead-off (n.)

    "commencement, beginning," 1879, from verbal phrase (attested from 1806); see lead (v.1) + off (adv.).ETD lead-off (n.).2

    lead-up (n.)

    1917, from verbal phrase; see lead (v.1) + up (adv.). To lead up to "prepare gradually for" is from 1861.ETD lead-up (n.).2

    leaf (n.)

    Old English leaf "leaf of a plant, foliage; page of a book, sheet of paper," from Proto-Germanic *lauba- (source also of Old Saxon lof, Old Norse lauf, Old Frisian laf, Dutch loof, Old High German loub, German Laub "foliage, leaves," Gothic laufs "leaf, foliage"), perhaps from PIE *leub(h)- "to peel off, strip or break off" ((source also of Old Irish luib, "herb," lub-gort "garden;" Albanian labë "rind, cork;" Lithuanian luba "plank, board;" Russian lob "forehead, brow," Czech leb "skull;" Lithuanian luobas "bast," Latvian luobas "peel," Russian lub "bast;" Old Norse lyf "medicinal herbs," Old English lybb "poison; magic").ETD leaf (n.).2

    Related to lodge and lobby; for another PIE root see folio. Extended late 14c. to very thin sheets of metal (especially gold). Compare Lithuanian lapas "leaf," from a root also in Greek lepos "bark," lepein "to peel off." Also applied to flat and relatively broad surfaces, especially of flexible or mounted attachments; meaning "hinged flap on the side of a table" is from 1550s. To turn over a (new) leaf (1590s; 1570s as turn the leaf) "begin a new and better course of life" is a reference to the book sense. Among insects, leaf-hopper is from 1847; leaf-cutter from 1816.ETD leaf (n.).3

    leaf (v.)

    "to turn over (the pages of a book)," 1660s, from leaf (n.). Meaning "put forth leaves or foliage" is from 1610s. Related: Leafed; leaved; leafing.ETD leaf (v.).2

    leafy (adj.)

    1550s, from leaf (n.) + -y (2). Related: Leafily; leafiness.ETD leafy (adj.).2

    leafless (adj.)

    1580s, from leaf (n.) + -less.ETD leafless (adj.).2

    leaflet (n.)

    1787 as a term in botany; 1867 as a term in printing and publication; diminutive of leaf (n.) with -let.ETD leaflet (n.).2

    league (n.2)

    itinerary unit in medieval England, distance of about three statute miles, late 14c., ultimately from Late Latin leuga (source also of French lieue, Spanish legua, Italian lega), which is said by Roman writers to be from Gaulish. A vague measure (perhaps originally an hour's hike), in England it was a conventional, not a legal measure, and in English it is found more often in poetic than in practical writing.ETD league (n.2).2

    league (v.)

    "to form a league," 1610s, from league (n.1). Related: Leagued; leaguing.ETD league (v.).2

    league (n.1)

    "alliance," mid-15c., ligg, from French ligue "confederacy, league" (15c.), from Italian lega, from legare "to tie, to bind," from Latin ligare "to bind" (from PIE root *leig- "to tie, bind"). Originally among nations, subsequently extended to political associations (1846) and sports associations (1879). League of Nations is attested from 1917 (created 1919).ETD league (n.1).2

    leak (n.)

    "hole by which liquid enters or escapes," late 15c., from leak (v.) or Old Norse cognate leka. Sense of "revelation of secret information" is from 1950. Meaning "act of urination" is attested from 1934 ("Tropic of Cancer"); but the verb meaning "to piss" is from 1590s: "Why, you will allow vs ne're a Iourden [i.e. a chamberpot], and then we leake in your Chimney." ["I Hen. IV," II.i.22]ETD leak (n.).2

    leak (v.)

    "to let water in or out" [Johnson], late 14c., from Middle Dutch leken "to drip, to leak," or from Old Norse leka, both of them related to Old English leccan "to moisten, water, irrigate" (which did not survive into Middle English), all from Proto-Germanic *lek- "deficiency" (source also of Old High German lecchen "to become dry," German lechzen "to be parched with thirst"), from PIE root *leg- (2) "to dribble, trickle." The figurative meaning "come to be known in spite of efforts at concealment" dates from at least 1832; transitive sense first recorded 1859. Related: Leaked; leaking.ETD leak (v.).2

    leakage (n.)

    late 15c., from leak (v.) + -age.ETD leakage (n.).2

    leaky (adj.)

    mid-15c., from leak (n.) + -y (2). Related: Leakiness. Slang sense of "unable to keep a secret" attested from 1704.ETD leaky (adj.).2

    leal (adj.)

    "loyal, faithful, honest, true," c. 1300, lele, surviving from Middle English as Northern English and Scottish form of loyal. But the Land of the leal (Lady Nairne) is Heaven, not Scotland. Related: Lealty.ETD leal (adj.).2

    lean (adj.)

    "thin, spare, with little flesh or fat," c. 1200, from Old English hlæne "lean, thin," possibly (Skeat) from hlænan "cause to lean or bend," from Proto-Germanic *khlainijan, which would connect it to Old English hleonian (see lean (v.)). But perhaps rather, according to OED, from a PIE *qloinio- (with cognates in Lithuanian klynas "scrap, fragment," Lettish kleins "feeble"). Extended and figurative senses from early 14c. In business jargon, paired with mean (adj.) from 1970s to suggest aggressiveness as if from hunger.ETD lean (adj.).2

    leaning (n.)

    Old English hlininga; verbal noun from lean (v.). Figurative sense "inclination, tendency" is from 1580s. Related: Leanings.ETD leaning (n.).2

    leanness (n.)

    Old English hlænnesse; see lean (adj.) + -ness.ETD leanness (n.).2

    lean (v.)

    c. 1200, from Old English hlinian "to recline, lie down, rest; bend or incline" (Mercian hleonian, Northumbrian hlionian), from Proto-Germanic *hlinen (source also of Old Saxon hlinon, Old Frisian lena, Middle Dutch lenen, Dutch leunen, Old High German hlinen, German lehnen "to lean"), from PIE root *klei- "to lean."ETD lean (v.).2

    Transitive sense "cause to lean or rest" is from 14c. Meaning "to incline the body against something for support" is mid-13c. Figurative sense of "to trust for support" is from early 13c. Sense of "to lean toward mentally, to favor" is from late 14c. Related: Leaned; leaning. Colloquial lean on "put pressure on" (someone) is first recorded 1960.ETD lean (v.).3

    lean (n.2)

    c. 1200, "lean animals or persons," from lean (adj.). Meaning "lean part of anything, muscle without fat, lean meat" is mid-15c.ETD lean (n.2).2

    lean (n.1)

    "action or state of leaning, deviation from a vertical position," 1776, from lean (v.).ETD lean (n.1).2


    youth of Abydos, lover of Hero. He swam nightly across the Hellespont to visit her in Sestos, on the Thracian side, until he drowned. The name is from Greek Leiandros, literally "lion-man," from leon "lion" + anēr (genitive andros) "man" (from PIE root *ner- (2) "man").ETD Leander.2


    occasion past tense and past participle of lean (v.).ETD leant.2

    lean-to (n.)

    "building whose rafters lean against another building or wall," mid-15c., from lean (v.) + to (adv.). Compare penthouse. "An addition made to a house behind, or at the end of it, chiefly for domestic offices, of one story or more, lower than the main building, and the roof of it leaning against the wall of the house" [Bartlett].ETD lean-to (n.).2

    leap (v.)

    c. 1200, from Old English hleapan "to jump, spring clear of the ground by force of an initial bound; run, go; dance, leap upon (a horse)" (class VII strong verb; past tense hleop, past participle hleapen), from Proto-Germanic *hlaupanan (source also of Old Saxon hlopan, Old Norse hlaupa, Old Frisian hlapa, Dutch lopen, Old High German hlouffan, German laufen "to run," Gothic us-hlaupan "to jump up"), of uncertain origin, with no known cognates beyond Germanic; perhaps a substratum word.ETD leap (v.).2

    Transitive sense "pass over by leaping" is from early 15c. Leap-frog, the children's game, is attested by that name from 1590s ("Henry V"); figurative use by 1704; as a verb from 1872. To leap tall buildings in a single bound (1940s) is from the description of Superman's powers. Related: Leaped; leaping.ETD leap (v.).3

    leap (n.)

    c. 1200, "the act or an act of leaping," from Old English hliep, hlyp (West Saxon), *hlep (Mercian, Northumbrian) "a leap, a bound, a spring; sudden movement; thing to leap from;" from Proto-Germanic *hlaupan (cognates: Old Frisian hlep, Dutch loop, Old High German hlouf, German lauf); from the root of leap (v.). Leaps has been paired with bounds at least since 1720.ETD leap (n.).2

    leap year (n.)

    "year containing 366 days," late 14c., lepe gere (not in Old English), from leap (v.) + year. Probably so called from its causing fixed festival days, which normally advance one weekday per year, to "leap" ahead one day in the week. Compare Medieval Latin saltus lunae (Old English monan hlyp) "omission of one day in the lunar calendar every 19 years."ETD leap year (n.).2

    Dutch schrikkeljaar "leap year" is from Middle Dutch schricken "leap forward," literally "be startled, be in fear." The 29th of February is schrikkeldag. Danish skudaar, Swedish skottår are literally "shoot-year;" German schaltjahr is from schalten "insert, intercalate." The Late Latin phrase was annus bissextilis, source of the Romanic words; compare bissextile.ETD leap year (n.).3

    learned (adj.)

    "having knowledge gained by study," mid-14c., past-participle adjective from learn (v.) in its former transitive sense. Related: Learnedly; learnedness. "[L]earned expresses depth and fullness in the knowledge, while scholarly expresses accuracy" [Century Dictionary].ETD learned (adj.).2

    learning (n.)

    Old English leornung "study, action of acquiring knowledge," verbal noun from leornian (see learn). Meaning "knowledge acquired by systematic study, extensive literary and scientific culture" is from mid-14c. Learning curve attested by 1907.ETD learning (n.).2

    learn (v.)

    Old English leornian "to get knowledge, be cultivated; study, read, think about," from Proto-Germanic *lisnojanan (cognates: Old Frisian lernia, Middle Dutch leeren, Dutch leren, Old High German lernen, German lernen "to learn," Gothic lais "I know"), with a base sense of "to follow or find the track," from PIE root *lois- "furrow, track." It is related to German Gleis "track," and to Old English læst "sole of the foot" (see last (n.1)).ETD learn (v.).2

    From c. 1200 as "to hear of, ascertain." Transitive use (He learned me (how) to read), now considered vulgar (except in reflexive expressions, I learn English), was acceptable from c. 1200 until early 19c. It is preserved in past-participle adjective learned "having knowledge gained by study." Old English also had læran "to teach" (see lere). Related: Learning.ETD learn (v.).3

    learnable (adj.)

    1620s, from learn + -able. Related: Learnability.ETD learnable (adj.).2

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