lac (n.)
"red resinous substance," 1550s (perhaps via Middle French lacce), earlier lacca (early 15c., from Medieval Latin form lacca), from Persian lak, from Hindi lakh (Prakrit lakkha), from Sanskrit laksha "red dye," which according to Klein is literally "one hundred thousand," in reference to the insects that gather in great numbers on the trees and make the resin run out. But others say lakh is an alteration of Sanskrit rakh, from an IE root word for "color, dye" [Watkins]. Still another guess is that Sanskrit laksha is related to English lax, lox "salmon," and the substance was perhaps originally so called from being somewhat the color of salmon [Barnhart].
lace (n.)
early 13c., laz, "cord made of braided or interwoven strands of silk, etc.," from Old French laz "a net, noose, string, cord, snare" (Modern French lacs), from Vulgar Latin *lacium, from Latin laqueum (nominative laqueus) "noose, snare" (source also of Italian laccio, Spanish lazo), a trapping and hunting term, probably from Italic base *laq- "to ensnare" (compare Latin lacere "to entice"). Later also "net, noose, snare" (c.1300); "piece of cord used to draw together the edges of slits or openings in an article of clothing" (late 14c.). The "ornamental net pattern" meaning is first recorded 1550s. Sense of "cord for tying" remains in shoelace. As an adjective, lace-curtain "middle class" (or lower-class with middle-class pretensions) usually is used in reference to Irish-Americans, by 1928.
lace (v.)
c.1200, "fasten (clothing, etc.) with laces and ties;" see lace (n.). Also "tighten (a garment) by pulling its laces" (early 14c.). To lace coffee, etc., with a dash of liquor (1670s) originally was used of sugar, and comes via the notion of "to ornament or trim." Related: Laced; lacing. Laced mutton was "an old word for a whore" [Johnson].
lace-up (adj.)
1831, originally of boots, from lace (v.) + up.
Lacedaemonian (adj.)
1780, from Latin Lacedaemonius, from Greek Lakedaimonios, from Lakedaimon, an ancient Greek name for Sparta and the district around it.
lacerate (v.)
early 15c., from Latin laceratus, past participle of lacerare "tear to pieces, mangle," figuratively, "to slander, censure, abuse," from lacer "torn, mangled," from PIE root *lek- "to rend, tear" (cognates: Greek lakis "tatter, rag," lakizein "to tear to pieces;" Russian lochma "rag, tatter, scrap;" Albanian l'akur "naked"). Related: Lacerated; lacerating.
laceration (n.)
1590s, from Middle French lacération, from Latin lacerationem (nominative laceratio), noun of action from past participle stem of lacerare (see lacerate).
lacey
see lacy.
laches (n.)
"negligence in performance of legal dute," 1570s, earlier simply "slackness, negligence, want of zeal," late 14c., from Anglo-French laches, Old French lachesse, from Old French lasche (Modern French lâche), verbal adj. from lascher, from Vulgar Latin *lascare, classical laxare, from laxus (see loose). Compare riches.
lachrymal (adj.)
also lachrimal, early 15c., from Medieval Latin lacrimalis, from Latin lacrima (see lachrymose).
lachrymose (adj.)
1660s, "tear-like," from Latin lacrimosus "tearful, sorrowful, weeping," also "causing tears, lamentable," from lacrima "tear," a dialect-altered borrowing of Greek dakryma "tear," from dakryein "to shed tears," from dakry "tear," from PIE *dakru-/*draku- (see tear (n.)). Meaning "given to tears, tearful" is first attested 1727; meaning "of a mournful character" is from 1822.

The -d- to -l- alteration in Latin is the so-called "Sabine -L-"; compare Latin olere "smell," from root of odor, and Ulixes, the Latin form of Greek Odysseus. The Medieval Latin practice of writing -ch- for -c- before Latin -r- also altered anchor, pulchritude, sepulchre. The -y- is pedantic, from belief in a Greek origin. Middle English had lacrymable "tearful" (mid-15c.).
lack (n.)
c.1300, "absence, want; shortage, deficiency," perhaps from an unrecorded Old English *lac, or else borrowed from Middle Dutch lak "deficiency, fault;" in either case from Proto-Germanic *laka- (cognates: Old Frisian lek "disadvantage, damage," Old Norse lakr "lacking"), from PIE *leg- "to dribble, trickle." Middle English also had lackless "without blame or fault."
lack (v.)
late 12c., perhaps from Middle Dutch laken "to be wanting," from lak (n.) "deficiency, fault," or an unrecorded native cognate word (see lack (n.)). Related: Lacked; lacking.
lackadaisical (adj.)
1768 (Sterne), from interjection lackadaisy "alas, alack" (1748), an alteration of lack-a-day (1690s), from alack the day (1590s). Hence, "given to crying 'lack-a-day,' vapidly sentimental." Sense probably altered by influence of lax. Related: Lackadaisically.
lackey (n.)
1520s, "footman, running footman, valet," from Middle French laquais "foot soldier, footman, servant" (15c.), of unknown origin; perhaps from Old Provençal lacai, from lecai "glutton, covetous," from lecar "to lick." Alternative etymology is via French from Catalan alacay, from Arabic al-qadi "the judge." Yet another guess traces it through Spanish lacayo, from Italian lacchè, from Modern Greek oulakes, from Turkish ulak "runner, courier." This suits the original sense better, but OED says Italian lacchè is from French. Sense of "servile follower" appeared 1580s. As a political term of abuse it dates from 1939 in communist jargon.
lackluster (adj.)
also lack-luster, c.1600, first attested in "As You Like It," from lack + luster. Combinations with lack- were frequent in 16c., such as lackland (1590s), of a landless man; lack-Latin (1530s), of an ignorant priest.
lacklustre
chiefly British English spelling of lackluster (q.v.); for spelling, see -re.
laconic (adj.)
"concise, abrupt," 1580s, probably via Latin Laconicus, from Greek Lakonikos, from Lakon "person from Lakonia," the district around Sparta in southern Greece in ancient times, whose inhabitants were famously proud of their brevity of speech. When Philip of Macedon threatened them with, "If I enter Laconia, I will raze Sparta to the ground," the Spartans' reply was, "If." An earlier form was laconical (1570s). Related: Laconically.
Lacoste
Paris-based high-end apparel company, founded 1933, named for René Lacoste (1904-1996), company co-founder.
lacquer (n.)
1570s as "dye obtained from lac;" 1670s as "lacquer," from obsolete French lacre, name for a kind of sealing wax, from Portuguese lacre, unexplained variant of lacca "resinous substance," from Arabic lakk, from Persian lak (see lac).
lacquer (v.)
"cover or coat with laqueur," 1680s, from lacquer (n.). Related: Lacquered; lacquering.
lacrosse (n.)
1718, American English, from Canadian French jeu de la crosse "game of the hooked sticks," from crosse "hooked stick," which is used to throw the ball, from Proto-Germanic *kruk-. Originally a North American Indian game. The native name is represented by Ojibwa (Algonquian) baaga'adowe "to play lacrosse."
lactate (v.)
"secrete milk from the breasts," 1889, probably a back-formation from lactation. Related: Lactated; lactating.
lactate (n.)
1794, from stem of lactic + -ate (1).
lactation (n.)
1660s, "process of suckling an infant," from French lactation, from Late Latin lactationem (nominative lactatio) "a suckling," noun of action from past participle stem of lactare "suckle," from lac (genitive lactis) "milk," from PIE root *glakt- (cognates: Greek gala, genitive galaktos, "milk"), which, along with *melg-, accounts for words for "milk" in most Indo-European languages (the absence of a common word for it is considered a mystery). Meaning "process of secreting milk from the breasts" first recorded 1857. Middle Irish lacht, Welsh llaeth "milk" are loan words from Latin.
lacteal (adj.)
1650s, formed in English from Latin lacteus, from lac (genitive lactis) "milk," from PIE root *glakt- (see lactation) + -al (1).
lactic (adj.)
"pertaining to milk," 1790 (in lactic acid; so called because it was obtained from sour milk), from French lactique, from Latin lactis, genitive of lac "milk" (see lactation) + French -ique.
lacto-
before vowels, lac-, word-forming element meaning "milk," from Latin lac (genitive lactis) "milk," from PIE root *glakt- (see lactation).
lactose (n.)
sugar from milk, 1858, from French, coined by French chemist Marcelin-Pierre-Eugène Berthelot (1827-1907) from Latin lac (genitive lactis) "milk" (see lactation) + chemical suffix -ose (2).
lacuna (n.)
"blank or missing portion in a manuscript," 1660s, from Latin lacuna "hole, pit," diminutive of lacus "pond, lake" (see lake (n.1)). The Latin plural is lacunae. Related: Lacunal; lacunar; lacunose.
lacunae
plural of lacuna (q.v.).
lacy (adj.)
1804, from lace (n.) in the decorative sense + -y (2).
lad (n.)
c.1300, ladde "foot soldier," also "young male servant" (attested as a surname from late 12c.), possibly from a Scandinavian language (compare Norwegian -ladd, in compounds for "young man"), but of obscure origin in any case. OED hazards a guess on Middle English ladde, plural of the past participle of lead (v.), thus "one who is led" (by a lord). Liberman derives it from Old Norse ladd "hose; woolen stocking." "The development must have been from 'stocking,' 'foolish youth' to 'youngster of inferior status' and (with an ameliorated meaning) to 'young fellow.'" He adds, "Words for socks, stockings, and shoes seem to have been current as terms of abuse for and nicknames of fools." Meaning "boy, youth, young man" is from mid-15c. Scottish form laddie, a term of endearment, attested from 1540s.
ladder (n.)
Old English hlæder "ladder, steps," from Proto-Germanic *khlaidri (cognates: Old Frisian hledere, Middle Dutch ledere, Old High German leitara, German Leiter), from PIE root *klei- "to lean" (cognates: Greek klimax "ladder;" see lean (v.)). In late Old English, rungs were læddrestæfæ and the side pieces were ledder steles. The belief that walking under one brings bad luck is attested from 1787, but its origin likely is more pragmatic than symbolic. Ladder-back (adj.) as a type of chair is from 1898.
lade (v.)
Old English hladan (past tense hlod, past participle gehladen) "to load, heap" (the general Germanic sense), also "to draw water" (a meaning peculiar to English), from Proto-Germanic *khlad- (cognates: Old Norse hlaða, Old Saxon hladan, Middle Dutch and Dutch laden, Old Frisian hlada "to load," Old High German hladen, German laden), from PIE *kla- "to spread out flat" (cognates: Lithuanian kloti "to spread," Old Church Slavonic klado "to set, place").
laden (adj.)
"loaded, weighted down," 1590s, from the original past participle of lade.
ladies (n.)
plural of lady (q.v.).
Ladin (n.)
Rhaeto-Romanic dialect spoken in Switzerland and Tyrol, 1873, from Latin Latinus "Latin."
lading (n.)
"act of loading a boat," early 15c., verbal noun from lade (v.).
Ladino (n.)
1889, Spanish mixed with Hebrew, Arabic, and other elements, written in Hebrew characters, spoken by Sephardim in Turkey, Greece, etc. From Spanish Ladino "sagacious, cunning crafty," originally "knowing Latin, Latin," from Latin Latinus. The Spanish word also has appeared in 19c. American English in its senses "vicious horse" and, in Central America, "mestizo, white person."
ladle (n.)
"large, long-handled spoon for drawing liquids," Old English hlædel "ladle," from hladan "to load" (see lade) + -le, suffix expressing "appliance, tool" (compare shovel, handle, thimble). The verb is first recorded 1520s, from the noun. Related: Ladled; ladling.
lady (n.)
c.1200, lafdi, lavede, from Old English hlæfdige "mistress of a household, wife of a lord," literally "one who kneads bread," from hlaf "bread" (see loaf) + -dige "maid," related to dæge "maker of dough" (see dey (n.1); also compare lord). The medial -f- disappeared 14c. Not found outside English except where borrowed from it.

Sense of "woman of superior position in society" is c.1200; "woman whose manners and sensibilities befit her for high rank in society" is from 1861 (ladylike in this sense is from 1580s, and ladily from c.1400). Meaning "woman as an object of chivalrous love" is from early 14c. Used commonly as an address to any woman since 1890s. Applied in Old English to the Holy Virgin, hence many extended usages in plant names, place names, etc., from genitive singular hlæfdigan, which in Middle English merged with the nominative, so that lady- often represents (Our) Lady's, as in ladybug. Ladies' man first recorded 1784. Lady of pleasure recorded from 1640s.
ladybird (n.)
"sweetheart," 1590s, from lady + bird (n.2).
ladybug (n.)
1690s, from lady + bug (n.). The "lady" is the Virgin Mary (compare German cognate Marienkäfer). In Britain, now usually ladybird beetle (1704), through aversion to the word bug, which there has overtones of sodomy.
ladylike (adj.)
also lady-like, 1580s; see lady + like (adj.). Middle English had ladily "queenly, exalted" (late 14c.).
Laertes
king of Ithaca, father of Odysseus, Greek, literally "gatherer of the people," from laos "people" (see lay (adj.)) + eirein "to fasten together."
lag (v.)
"fail to keep pace," 1520s, earlier as a noun meaning "last person" (1510s), later also as an adjective (1550s, as in lag-mon "last man"), all of uncertain relationship, possibly from a Scandinavian source (compare Norwegian lagga "go slowly"), or some dialectal version of last, lack, or delay. Related: Lag; lagging. The noun meaning "retardation" is from 1855. First record of lag time is from 1951.
lager (n.)
1858, American English, short for lager beer (1845), from German Lagerbier "beer brewed for keeping" some months before being drunk, from Lager "storehouse" (see lair) + Bier "beer."
laggard
1702 (adj.), from lag (v.) + -ard. From 1757 as a noun.
lagniappe (n.)
"dividend, something extra," 1849, from New Orleans creole, of unknown origin though much speculated upon. Originally a bit of something given by New Orleans shopkeepers to customers. Said to be from American Spanish la ñapa "the gift." Klein says this is in turn from Quechua yapa "something added, gift."
We picked up one excellent word -- a word worth travelling to New Orleans to get; a nice, limber, expressive, handy word -- 'lagniappe.' They pronounce it lanny-yap. It is Spanish -- so they said. [Mark Twain, "Life on the Mississippi"]