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    legibility (n.) — lepto-

    legibility (n.)

    1670s; see legible + -ity.ETD legibility (n.).2

    legicide (n.)

    "a destroyer of laws," 1680s, from Latin legis, genitive of lex "law" (see legal (adj.)) + -cide "killer."ETD legicide (n.).2

    legion (n.)

    c. 1200, "a Roman legion," from Old French legion "squad, band, company, Roman legion," from Latin legionem (nominative legio) "Roman legion, body of soldiers, a levy of troops," from legere "to gather; to choose, pick out, select," from PIE root *leg- (1) "to collect, gather." Tucker writes that "The common sense is 'pick,'" but it is unclear whether the use here is "picking up or picking out." Roughly 3,000 to 6,000 men, under Marius usually with attached cavalry. "The legions were numbered in the order of their levy, but were often known by particular names" [Lewis].ETD legion (n.).2

    Generalized sense of "a large number of persons" (c. 1300) is due to translations of the allusive phrase in Mark v.9. Of modern military bodies from 1590s. American Legion, U.S. association of ex-servicemen, founded in 1919. Legion of Honor is French légion d'honneur, an order of distinction founded by Napoleon in 1802. Foreign Legion is French légion étrangère "body of foreign volunteers in a modern army," originally Polish, Belgian, etc. units in French army; they traditionally served in colonies or distant expeditions. Related: Legionary.ETD legion (n.).3

    legionnaire (n.)

    1818, from French légionnaire, from légion (see legion). Legionnaires' Disease, caused by Legionella pneumophilia, was named after the lethal outbreak of July 1976 at the American Legion convention in Philadelphia's Bellevue Stratford Hotel. Hence also Legionella as the name of the bacterium.ETD legionnaire (n.).2

    legislator (n.)

    "a lawgiver, a maker of laws," c. 1600, from Latin legis lator "proposer of a law," from legis, genitive of lex "law" (see legal (adj.)) + lator "proposer," agent noun of lātus "borne, brought, carried" (see oblate (n.)), which was used as past tense of ferre "to carry" (from PIE root *bher- (1) "to carry," also "to bear children."). In U.S., generally a member of a state, territorial, or colonial legislature. Fem. form legislatrix is from 1670s; legislatress from 1711. Related: Legislatorial.ETD legislator (n.).2

    legislate (v.)

    "to make laws," 1805, back-formation from legislation or legislator. Related: Legislated; legislating.ETD legislate (v.).2

    legislation (n.)

    1650s, "the enacting of laws," from French législation (14c.), from Late Latin legislationem (nominative legislatio), properly two words, legis latio, "a proposing (literally 'bearing') of a law;" see legislator. Meaning "the product of legislative action" is from 1838.ETD legislation (n.).2

    legislative (adj.)

    1640s; from legislator + -ive. Related: Legislatively.ETD legislative (adj.).2

    legislature (n.)

    "a body of lawmakers," 1670s; see legislator + -ure.ETD legislature (n.).2

    legit (adj.)

    colloquial shortening of legitimate (adj.), 1897, originally in theater, in reference to legitimate drama, that which has literary merit (Shakespeare, etc., etc.).ETD legit (adj.).2

    legitimize (v.)

    1795, from Latin legitimus "lawful" (see legitimate (adj.)) + -ize. Earlier were legitimatize (1791), legitimate (1590s). Related: Legitimized; legitimizing; legitimization.ETD legitimize (v.).2

    legitimate (v.)

    "establish the legitimacy of, make lawful," 1590s, from Medieval Latin legitimatus, past participle of legitimare "make lawful" (see legitimate (adj.)). Related: Legitimated; legitimating.ETD legitimate (v.).2

    legitimation (n.)

    mid-15c., legitimacion, "official declaration of legitimacy," from Old French légitimation and directly from Medieval Latin legitimationem (nominative legitimatio), noun of action from past-participle stem of legitimare "make lawful, declare to be lawful" (see legitimate (adj.)).ETD legitimation (n.).2

    legitimism (n.)

    "insistence upon legitimacy," 1849, from French légitimisme (1834); see legitimate (adj.) + -ism. In 19c. especially with reference to French or Spanish politics and conservative adherence to "legitimate" claimants to the throne.ETD legitimism (n.).2

    legitimate (adj.)

    mid-15c., "lawfully begotten, born of parents legally married," from past participle of Old French legitimer and directly from Medieval Latin legitimatus, past participle of legitimare "make lawful, declare to be lawful," from Latin legitimus "lawful," originally "fixed by law, in line with the law," from lex (genitive legis) "law" (see legal). Transferred sense of "genuine, real" is attested from 1550s. Related: Legitimately; legitimateness. The older adjective in English was legitime "lawful, of legitimate birth" (late 14c.), from Old French legitime, from Latin legitimus.ETD legitimate (adj.).2

    legitimacy (n.)

    "state of being legitimate" in any sense, 1690s of children, 1812 of kings and governments, general use by 1836; see legitimate (adj.) + -cy. Legitimateness (1610s) is an earlier word for it. Middle English had legitimation (mid-15c.).ETD legitimacy (n.).2

    legitimist (n.)

    1841, from French légitimiste (1830), from légitime "legitimate," from legitimer (see legitimate (adj.)). A supporter of "legitimate" authority, in France, after 1830, especially of supporters of the elder Bourbon line (in opposition to that of the Orleans family).ETD legitimist (n.).2

    legless (adj.)

    1590s, from leg (n.) + -less. Related: Leglessly; leglessness.ETD legless (adj.).2

    leg-lock (n.)

    1848, "chains for the legs," from leg (n.) + lock (n.1). As a hold in wrestling, from 1886.ETD leg-lock (n.).2

    leg-man (n.)

    "assistant who does leg work," 1923; see leg (n.)).ETD leg-man (n.).2


    1954, proprietary name (in use since 1934, according to the company), from Danish phrase leg godt "play well." The founder, Danish businessman Ole Kirk Christiansen (1891-1958), didn't realize until later that the word meant "I study" or "I put together" in Latin.ETD Lego.2

    leg-rest (n.)

    1833, from leg (n.) + rest (n.1) "support on which something rests."ETD leg-rest (n.).2

    leg-room (n.)

    also legroom, 1846 (in reference to carriages), from leg (n.) + room (n.).ETD leg-room (n.).2

    legume (n.)

    plant of the group of the pulse family, pea, 1670s, from French légume (16c.), from Latin legumen "pulse, leguminous plant," of unknown origin. One suggestion ties it to Latin legere "to gather" (see lecture (n.)), because they can be scooped by the handful. Middle English had the word in the Latin form legumen (late 14c.).ETD legume (n.).2

    leguminous (adj.)

    early 15c., from Latin legumen (see legume) + -ous.ETD leguminous (adj.).2

    leg up (n.)

    "an aid, a boost," 1837, from leg (n.) + up (adv.).ETD leg up (n.).2

    leg-warmer (n.)

    1974, from leg (n.) + agent noun from warm (v.). Related: Leg-warmers.ETD leg-warmer (n.).2


    Proto-Indo-European root meaning "not heavy, having little weight."ETD *legwh-.2

    It forms all or part of: alleviate; alleviation; alto-rilievo; carnival; elevate; elevation; elevator; leaven; legerdemain; leprechaun; Levant; levator; levee; lever; levity; levy (v.) "to raise or collect;" light (adj.1) "not heavy, having little weight;" lighter (n.1) "type of barge used in unloading;" lung; relevance; relevant; releve; relief; relieve.ETD *legwh-.3

    It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit laghuh "quick, small;" Greek elakhys "small," elaphros "light;" Latin levare "to raise," levis "light in weight, not heavy;" Old Church Slavonic liguku, Russian lëgkij, Polish lekki, Lithuanian lengvas "light in weight;" Old Irish lu "small," laigiu "smaller, worse;" Gothic leihts, Old English leoht "not heavy, light in weight."ETD *legwh-.4

    leg-work (n.)

    also legwork, 1891, from leg (n.) + work (n.). Originally news reporter slang for an assignment that promised more walking than copy.ETD leg-work (n.).2

    Lehrjahre (n.)

    1865, from German Lehrjahre, from lehren "to learn" (see learn) + Jahre "years" (see year (n.)).ETD Lehrjahre (n.).2

    ley (n.)

    "line of a prehistoric track; alignment of natural and artificial features," 1922 [Alfred Watkins], apparently a variant of lea. Popular topic in Britain in 1920s-30s and again 1960s-70s.ETD ley (n.).2

    lei (n.)

    1843, from Hawaiian, "ornament worn about the neck or head."ETD lei (n.).2


    Gottfried Wilhelm Leibnitz (also Leibniz), 1646-1716, German philosopher and mathematician, independent inventor (Newton was the other) of differential and integral calculus.ETD Leibnitz.2


    1925, proprietary name of cameras made by firm of Ernst & Leitz Gesellschaft, Wetzlar, Germany. From Leitz + ca(mera).ETD Leica.2


    Middle English, earlier Ligraceaster, Ligera ceaster (early 10c.) "Roman Town of the People Called Ligore," a tribal name, perhaps "dwellers by the River Ligor." For second element, see Chester. The site is the Roman Ratae Coritanorum, fortified tribal capital of the Coritani, whose name is of unknown origin, with a Celtic word for "ramparts." The modern name "is best regarded as a new descriptive term for a deserted site" [Watts, "Cambridge Dictionary of English Place-Names"].ETD Leicester.2


    Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to tie, bind."ETD *leig-.2

    It forms all or part of: alloy; ally; colligate; deligate; furl; league (n.1) "alliance;" legato; liable; liaison; lien; lictor; ligand; ligament; ligate; ligation; ligature; oblige; rally (v.1) "bring together;" religion; rely.ETD *leig-.3

    It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Latin ligare "to bind;" Albanian lidh "I bind," and possibly Middle Low German lik "band," Middle High German geleich "joint, limb."ETD *leig-.4


    Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to lick." It forms all or part of: cunnilingus; lecher; lichen; lick.ETD *leigh-.2

    It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit ledhi "he licks," Armenian lizum "I lick," Greek leikhein "to lick," Latin lingere "to lick," Old Irish ligim "I lick," Welsh llwy "spoon," Old English liccian "to lick."ETD *leigh-.3


    place name (and surname), Old English leahtun, from earlier *leactun "a garden," from leac (see leek) + tun "farm, settlement, enclosure" (see town (n.)).ETD Leighton.2


    Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to leave."ETD *leikw-.2

    It forms all or part of: delinquent; derelict; eclipse; eleven; ellipse; ellipsis; elliptic; lipo- (2) "lacking;" lipogram; loan; paralipsis; relic; relict; reliction; relinquish; reliquiae; twelve.ETD *leikw-.3

    It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit reknas "inheritance, wealth," rinakti "leaves;" Greek leipein "to leave, be lacking;" Latin linquere "to leave;" Gothic leihvan, Old English lænan "to lend;" Old High German lihan "to borrow;" Old Norse lan "loan."ETD *leikw-.4


    fem. proper name, from Arabic Laylah, from laylah "night."ETD Leila.2


    scientific word-forming element meaning "smooth," from Greek leios "smooth, level, flat; plain, unembroidered; beardless." E.g. leiotrichy, in ethnology, of races, "condition of having straight, lank hair" (1924).ETD leio-.2


    Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to stick, adhere; fat."ETD *leip-.2

    It forms all or part of: adipose; beleave; delay; leave (v.); lebensraum; life; liparo-; lipo- (1) "fat;" lipoma; liposuction; lively; live (v.); liver (n.1) "secreting organ of the body;" Olaf; relay.ETD *leip-.3

    It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Greek liparein "to persist, persevere," aleiphein "anoint with oil," lipos "fat;" Old English lifer "liver," læfan "to allow to remain."ETD *leip-.4

    leisurely (adj.)

    c. 1600, from leisure (n.) + -ly (1). Earlier adjectives were leisurable (1530s), leisureful (mid-15c.). Related: Leisureliness.ETD leisurely (adj.).2

    leisured (adj.)

    of persons, "having ample leisure, not occupied with business," 1794, from leisure (n.). A verb leisure is not attested until 20c. and is rare. Phrase leisured class attested by 1836.ETD leisured (adj.).2

    leisure (n.)

    c. 1300, leisir, "free time, time at one's disposal," also (early 14c.) "opportunity to do something, chance, occasion, an opportune time," also "lack of hurry," from Old French leisir, variant of loisir "capacity, ability, freedom (to do something); permission; spare time; free will; idleness, inactivity," noun use of infinitive leisir "be permitted," from Latin licere "to be allowed" (see licence (n.)).ETD leisure (n.).2

    Especially "opportunity afforded by freedom from necessary occupations" (late 14c.). "In Fr. the word has undergone much the same development of sense as in Eng." [OED]. The -u- appeared 16c., probably on analogy of pleasure (n.), etc. To do something at leisure "without haste, with deliberation" (late 14c.) preserves the older sense. To do something at (one's) leisure "when one has time" is from mid-15c.ETD leisure (n.).3

    leisurely (adv.)

    late 15c., "not hastily, deliberately," from leisure (n.) + -ly (2).ETD leisurely (adv.).2

    leisure (adj.)

    "free from business, idle, unoccupied," 1660s, from leisure (n.).ETD leisure (adj.).2

    leitmotif (n.)

    also leitmotiv, "a musical figure to which some definite meaning is attached," 1876, from German Leitmotiv, literally "leading motive," from leiten "to lead" (see lead (v.1)) + Motiv (see motive). A term associated with Wagnerian musical drama, though the thing itself is at least as old as Mozart. "The leitmotif must be characteristic of the person or thing it is intended to represent." ["Elson's Music Dictionary"]ETD leitmotif (n.).2

    lek (v.)

    of certain animals, "to engage in courtship displays," 1871, probably from Swedish leka "to play," cognate of English dialectal verb lake (see lark (n.2)). Related: Lekking.ETD lek (v.).2

    lemming (n.)

    small arctic rodent, c. 1600, from Norwegian lemming, from Old Norse lomundr "lemming." Perhaps from Lapp luomek. Figurative sense (in reference to their prolific breeding and sudden mass migrations that sometimes end in plunges into the sea) is from 1958.ETD lemming (n.).2

    LEM (n.)

    acronym (initialism) for lunar excursion module, 1962, from the U.S. space program.ETD LEM (n.).2

    leman (n.)

    "sweetheart, paramour, loved one" (archaic), c. 1200, lemman, "loved one of the opposite sex; paramour, lover; wife;" also "a spiritually beloved one; redeemed soul, believer in Christ; female saint devoted to chastity; God, Christ, the Virgin Mary;" also a term of intimate address to a friend or lover, contracted from late Old English leofman, a compound of leof "dear" (see lief) + man "human being, person" (from PIE root *man- (1) "man").ETD leman (n.).2

    Originally of either gender, though in deliberate archaic usage it tends to be limited to women. Often in religious use in early Middle English, of brides of Christ, the spiritually beloved of God, etc.; by c. 1300 it could mean "betrothed lover," and by late 14c. it had the pejorative sense "concubine, mistress, gallant." For loss of medial -f-, compare had.ETD leman (n.).3

    lemma (n.)

    1560s, in mathematics, from Greek lemma (plural lemmata) "something received or taken; an argument; something taken for granted," from root of lambanein "to take," from PIE root *(s)lagw- "to seize, take" (source also of Sanskrit labhate, rabhate "seizes;" Old English læccan "to seize, grasp;" Greek lazomai "I take, grasp;" Old Church Slavonic leca "to catch, snare;" Lithuanian lobis "possession, riches"). Related: Lemmatical.ETD lemma (n.).2

    lemniscus (n.)

    "a plane curve with a characteristic 'figure-eight' shape consisting of two loops that meet at a central point," 1811, from Late Latin lemniscus "a pendent ribbon," from Greek lēmniskos "woolen ribbon, woolen tape," perhaps originally or literally "of Lemnos," the island in the Aegean, but if so the reason is obscure. Related: Lemniscate (adj.), 1781.ETD lemniscus (n.).2


    Greek island, the name is believed to be of Phoenician origin, from Semitic root l-b-n "white." Related: Lemnian.ETD Lemnos.2

    lemon (n.1)

    "ovate, pale yellow citrus fruit," c. 1400, lymon, from Old French limon "citrus fruit" (12c.), which comes via Provençal or Italian from Arabic laimun, Persian limun. Apparently brought from India to the Levant by the Arabs 9c. or 10c.; the word is perhaps ultimately from an Austronesian word of the Malay archipelago, such as Balinese limo "lemon," Malay limaw "citrus fruit, lime" (compare lime (n.2)).ETD lemon (n.1).2

    Meaning "person with a tart disposition" is from 1863. For the sense "worthless thing," see lemon (n.2). Slang meaning "a Quaalude" is 1960s, from Lemmon, name of a pharmaceutical company that once manufactured the drug. The surname is from Middle English leman "sweetheart, lover." Lemon-juice is attested from 1610s; the candy lemon-drop from 1807. The East Indian lemon-grass (1837) is so called for its smell.ETD lemon (n.1).3

    lemon (v.)

    1767 (implied in lemoned), from lemon (n.1).ETD lemon (v.).2

    lemon (n.2)

    "worthless thing, disappointment, booby prize," 1909, American English slang; from lemon (n.1), perhaps via a criminal slang sense of "a person who is a loser, a simpleton," perhaps an image of someone a sharper can "suck the juice out of." A pool hall hustle was called a lemon game (1908); while to hand someone a lemon was British slang (1906) for "to pass off a sub-standard article as a good one." Or it simply may be a metaphor for something which leaves a bad taste in one's mouth. Specific sense of "second-hand car in poor condition" is by 1931.ETD lemon (n.2).2

    lemonade (n.)

    1650s, nativized from French limonade, limonnade (1560s), which is from Italian limonata or else a French formation from limon; see lemon (n.1) + -ade. The earlier English spelling was lemonado (c. 1640) with false Spanish ending.ETD lemonade (n.).2

    lemony (adj.)

    "resembling or infused with lemon," 1846, from lemon (n.1) + -y (2). In Australia/New Zealand slang, also "irritated, angry" (1941). An earlier adjective was lemonish (1719).ETD lemony (adj.).2

    lemur (n.)

    nocturnal Madagascar mammal, 1795, given this sense by Linnaeus, from Latin lemures (plural, singular lemurum) "evil spirits of the dead" in Roman mythology, a word of uncertain origin. De Vaan finds it likely that it and Greek lamia are borrowings of a non-Indo-European (perhaps Anatolian/Etruscan) word for malevolent spirits.ETD lemur (n.).2


    1864, name given by English zoologist Philip L. Sclater (1829-1913) to an ancient continent or land bridge, now sunk in the Indian Ocean, connecting Africa, Madagascar, India, and Southeast Asia, which he hypothesized to explain the geographical distribution of mammals around it, especially the lemur, hence the name (with -ia). The premise was considered scientifically untenable by 1880 and the phenomena now are accounted for otherwise, but Lemuria in some ways by chance anticipated Gondwanaland (1896) in the continental drift model.ETD Lemuria.2

    Earlier Lemuria was the name of the Roman feast of the Lemures, evil spirits of the dead in Roman mythology. The head of each household ritually exorcised them every 9th, 11th, and 13th of May. Related: LemurianETD Lemuria.3

    lens (n.)

    1690s, "glass to regulate light rays," from Latin lens (genitive lentis) "a lentil," on analogy of the double-convex shape. See lentil. Anatomical use, of the eye part, from 1719. Lens-cap is from 1857.ETD lens (n.).2


    fem. proper name, originally a shortened form of Helena or Magdalena.ETD Lena.2


    1728, from the Unami Delaware (Algonquian) native designation, said to mean literally "original person," from /len-/ "ordinary, real, original" + /-a:p:e/ "person." Sometimes in extended form Lenni Lenape, with /leni-/ "real."ETD Lenape.2

    lend (v.)

    "grant temporary possession of," late 14c., from past tense of Old English lænan "to grant temporarily, lease out, make loans, lend money at interest," from Proto-Germanic *laihwnjan, verb derived from *loikw-nes-, the prehistoric source of Old English læn "gift" (see loan (n.)). Compare Dutch lenen, Old High German lehanon, German lehnen, all verbs derived from nouns. In Middle English the past tense form, with terminal -d, became the principal form on analogy of bend, send, etc. To lend an ear "listen" is from late 14c.ETD lend (v.).2

    lend (n.)

    "a loan," 1570s, from lend (v.). OED describes it as Scottish and Northern.ETD lend (n.).2

    lender (n.)

    mid-15c., agent noun from lend (v.). Old English had laenere, agent noun from lænan; the Middle English word might be a new formation or it might be the older word with an unetymological -d- from lend.ETD lender (n.).2

    length (n.)

    Old English lengðu "property of being long or extended in one direction; distance along a line," from Proto-Germanic *langitho, abstract noun from *langaz "long" (root of Old English lang; see long (adj.)) + *-itho, abstract noun suffix (see -th (2)). Cognate with Old Norse lengd, Old Frisian lengethe, Dutch lengte.ETD length (n.).2

    Figurative sense of "the distance one goes, extremity to which something is carried" is from 1690s. Phrase at length "to full extent" is attested from c. 1500. As "the length of a swimming pool," 1903. From the notion of "a piece or portion of the extent of anything" come the theater slang sense "a 42-line portion of an actor's part" (1736) and the sporting sense "the length of a horse, car, etc. in a race" used as a unit of measure (1650s).ETD length (n.).3

    lengthen (v.)

    late 14c., "to make longer," also "to grow longer," from length + -en (1). Related: Lengthened; lengthening. Earlier verb was simply length (c. 1300).ETD lengthen (v.).2

    lengthy (adj.)

    "having length" (especially "immoderately long"), 1759, American English, from length + -y (2). Until c. 1840 always characterized in British English as an Americanism.ETD lengthy (adj.).2

    Related: Lengthily; lengthiness.ETD lengthy (adj.).3

    lengthways (adv.)

    1590s, from length + way (n.) + adverbial genitive -s.ETD lengthways (adv.).2

    lengthwise (adv.)

    "in the direction of the length," 1570s, from length + wise (n.). As an adjective by 1871.ETD lengthwise (adv.).2

    leniency (n.)

    1780, from lenient + abstract noun suffix -cy.ETD leniency (n.).2

    lenience (n.)

    1796, from lenient + -ence.ETD lenience (n.).2

    lenient (adj.)

    1650s, "relaxing, soothing" (a sense now archaic), from French lenient, from Latin lenientem (nominative leniens), present participle of lenire "to soften, alleviate, allay; calm, soothe, pacify," from lenis "mild, gentle, calm," which probably is from a suffixed form of PIE root *‌‌lē- "to let go, slacken."ETD lenient (adj.).2

    The usual modern sense of "mild, merciful" (of persons or actions) is first recorded 1787. In earlier use was lenitive, attested from early 15c. of medicines, 1610s of persons. Related: Leniently.ETD lenient (adj.).3


    pseudonym or alias chosen c. 1902 (for publishing clandestine political works in exile) by Russian revolutionary Vladimir Il'ich Ulyanov (1870-1924). Related: Leninist (1917); Leninism (1918). Leningrad was the name of Russian St. Petersburg from 1924 to 1991.ETD Lenin.2

    lenitive (adj.)

    "assuaging, palliating," early 15c., from Medieval Latin lenitivus, from Latin lenitus, past participle of lenire "to soften, alleviate, pacify" (from PIE root *‌‌lē- "to let go, slacken"). As a noun, "a lenitive medicine," from early 15c.ETD lenitive (adj.).2

    lenity (n.)

    "softness, smoothness, mildness," early 15c., from Old French lénité or directly from Latin lenitatem (nominative lenitas) "softness, smoothness, gentleness, mildness," from lenis "soft, mild" (from PIE root *‌‌lē- "to let go, slacken").ETD lenity (n.).2


    Lent (n.)

    "period between Ash Wednesday and Easter," late 14c., short for Lenten (n.) "the forty days of fasting before Easter" in the Christian calendar (early 12c.), from Old English lencten "springtime, spring," the season, also "the fast of Lent," from West Germanic *langitinaz "long-days," or "lengthening of the day" (source also of Old Saxon lentin, Middle Dutch lenten, Old High German lengizin manoth). This prehistoric compound probably refers to increasing daylight in spring and is reconstructed to be from *langaz "long" (source of long (adj.)) + *tina- "day" (compare Gothic sin-teins "daily"), which is cognate with Old Church Slavonic dini, Lithuanian diena, Latin dies "day" (from PIE root *dyeu- "to shine").ETD Lent (n.).2

    Compare similar form evolution in Dutch lente (Middle Dutch lentin), German Lenz (Old High German lengizin) "spring." But the Church sense is peculiar to English. The -en in Lenten (n.) was perhaps mistaken for an affix.ETD Lent (n.).3

    Lenten (adj.)

    late Old English lencten "pertaining to Lent," from Lent + -en (2). Elizabethan English had Lenten-faced "lean and dismal" (c. 1600).ETD Lenten (adj.).2

    lenticular (adj.)

    "lens-shaped, having the form of a double-convex lens," early 15c., from Late Latin lenticularis "lentil-shaped," from lenticula "a small lentil," diminutive of Latin lens "a lentil" (see lentil). Related: Lenticularity (1890).ETD lenticular (adj.).2

    lentil (n.)

    type of annual leguminous plant, also its edible seed, mid-13c., from Old French lentille "lentil," also "a freckle" (12c.), from Latin lenticula, diminutive of Latin lens (genitive lentis) "lentil plant, a lentil," cognate with Greek lathyros "pulse;" Old High German German linsa, German linse "a lentil;" Old Church Slavonic lęšta, Russian ljač.ETD lentil (n.).2

    lento (adv.)

    "slowly" (musical direction), 1724, from Italian lento "slow," from Latin lentus "flexible, pliant, slow, sluggish," from PIE root *lent- "flexible" (see lithe). Related: Lentissimo; lentando ("with increasing slowness").ETD lento (adv.).2


    zodiac constellation, late Old English, from Latin leo "lion" (see lion). Meaning "person born under the sign of Leo" is from 1894. Leonid "meteor which appears to radiate from Leo" is from 1868; the annual shower peaks Nov. 14 and the stars fall in extreme profusion about every 33 years. The meteors are believed now to be associated with comet Tempel—Tuttle. The dim constellation Leo Minor was introduced 1690 by Hevelius.ETD Leo.2


    medieval kingdom in northwestern Spain, said to be from Latin legionis (septimae) "of the Seventh Legion," which was founded in Spain in 65 B.C.E.; if so the name probably then was conformed to Spanish leon "lion." Related: Leonese.ETD Leon.2


    masc. proper name, from French Léonard, Old French Leonard, from German Leonhard, from Old High German *Lewenhart, literally "strong as a lion," from lewo (from Latin Leo, see lion) + hart "hard" (from PIE root *kar- "hard").ETD Leonard.2

    leonine (adj.)

    "lion-like," late 14c., from Old French leonin or directly from Latin leoninus "belonging to or resembling a lion," from leo (genitive leonis) "lion." Weekley thinks that Leonine verse (1650s), rhymed in the middle as well as the end of the line, probably is from the name of some medieval poet, perhaps Leo, Canon of St. Victor, Paris, 12c.ETD leonine (adj.).2

    leopard (n.)

    late 13c. (early 13c. as a surname), "large cat of the wooded country of Africa and South Asia," from Old French lebard, leupart "leopard," heraldic or real (12c., Modern French léopard), from Late Latin leopardus, literally "lion-pard, lion-panther" (the animal was thought in ancient times to be a hybrid of these two species), from Greek leopardos, from leon "lion" (see lion) + pardos "male panther," which generally is said to be connected to Sanskrit prdakuh "panther, tiger."ETD leopard (n.).2

    Largest spotted cat of the Old World, the name later also was applied to big cats in the Americas. The word is widespread in Europe: Dutch luipaard, German, Danish leopard, Spanish, Italian leopardo. Middle English spelling variants included lubard, lebarde, lypard, lyepart. Proverbial references to its inability to change its spots are from Jeremiah xiii.23. In Middle English the word is used often in heraldry, but there it refers to a lion passant gardant (as on the emblem of Edward the Black Prince).ETD leopard (n.).3


    masc. proper name, from French Léopold, from Old High German Leutpald, Liutbald, literally "bold among the people," from leudi, liut "people," from PIE root *leudh- (2) (see lede (n.2)) + bald "bold," from Proto-Germanic *baltha- (see bold (adj.))ETD Leopold.2

    leotard (n.)

    1881, leotards, named for Jules Léotard (1830-1870), popular French trapeze artist, who performed in such a garment.ETD leotard (n.).2

    leper (n.)

    "one afflicted with leprosy," late 14c., earlier "the disease leprosy," from Late Latin lepra, from Greek lepra "leprosy," noun use of fem. of lepros (adj.) "scaly, scabby, rough, leprous," related to lepein "to peel," from lepos, lepis "a scale," from PIE root *lep- (1) "to peel," which also yields words for "something delicate and weak," via the notion of "small shaving, flake, scale" (cognates: Latin lepidus "pleasant, charming, fine, elegant, effeminate," lepos "pleasantness, agreeableness;" Old English læfer "rush, reed; metal plate;" Lithuanian lopas "patch, rag, cloth," lepus "soft, weak, effeminate").ETD leper (n.).2

    Originally in Middle English this was the word for the disease itself (mid-13c., via Old French lepre); the shift in meaning to "person with leprosy" perhaps developed in Anglo-French, or is because the -er ending resembled an agent-noun affix. By mid-15c. other nouns for the disease were being coined (see leprosy). In English lepra also was an old name for psoriasis (late 14c.).ETD leper (n.).3


    before vowels lepid-, word-forming element used since late 18c. in science with a sense of "scale" (of a fish, etc.), combining form of Greek lepis (genitive lepidos) "scale of a fish" (related to lepein "to peel;" see leper). As in lepidodendron (1819 in German), common fossil "club-moss tree" of the Carboniferous.ETD lepido-.2

    Lepidoptera (n.)

    order of insects with four scaly wings, 1773, the biological classification that includes butterflies and moths, coined 1735 in Modern Latin by Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus (Karl von Linné, 1707-1778) from lepido- "scale" + pteron "wing, feather" (from PIE root *pet- "to rush, to fly"). Related: Lepidopteral; lepidopteran; lepidopterous.ETD Lepidoptera (n.).2

    lepidopterist (n.)

    "one who studies the Lepidoptera," 1826, from Lepidoptera + -ist. Related: Lepidopterology.ETD lepidopterist (n.).2

    leprechaun (n.)

    c. 1600, from Irish lupracan, metathesis of Old Irish luchorpan, which traditionally is explained as literally "a very small body," from lu "little, small" (from PIE root *legwh- "not heavy, having little weight") + corpan, diminutive of corp "body," from Latin corpus "body" (from PIE root *kwrep- "body, form, appearance"). However, Celtic linguistic scholarship has recently found a different explanation and connected the word to Latin Lupercalia:ETD leprechaun (n.).2

    Commonly spelled lubrican in 17c. English; "Century Dictionary" (1902) has it under leprechawn. Variant leithbragan probably is Irish folk etymology, from leith "half" + brog "brogue," because the spirit was "supposed to be always employed in making or mending a single shoe."ETD leprechaun (n.).3

    leprophilia (n.)

    "strong abnormal attraction to people with leprosy," 1959 (Graham Greene), from combining form of leper (q.v.) + -philia. Related: Leprophil. Leprophobia is from 1888.ETD leprophilia (n.).2

    leprosy (n.)

    name given to various chronic skin diseases, later in more restricted use, 1530s, probably from leprous + -y (4). First used in Coverdale Bible, where it renders Hebrew cara'ath, which apparently was a comprehensive term for skin diseases. Also known as Hansen's disease (1938) for Norwegian physician Gerhard Henrik Armauer Hansen (1841-1912) who in 1871 discovered the bacillus that causes it.ETD leprosy (n.).2

    The Middle English name for the disease was leper (mid-13c.), from Old French liepre and Latin lepra (see leper). But as the sense of this shifted after late 14c. to mean "person with leprosy," English began coining new nouns for the disease: lepri, leprosity, lepruse all date from mid-15c. but are now obsolete. A place for their treatment is a leprosarium (1846) or leprosary (1869, from French).ETD leprosy (n.).3

    leprous (adj.)

    "infected with leprosy," early 13c., leprus, from Old French lepros (Modern French lépreux), from Late Latin leprosus, from Latin lepra "leprosy" (see leper).ETD leprous (adj.).2


    word-forming element used from 19c. and meaning "fine, small, thin, delicate," from Greek leptos "small, slight, slender, delicate" (see lepton).ETD lepto-.2

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