lackluster (adj.) Look up lackluster at
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 (adj.) Look up lacklustre at
chiefly British English spelling of lackluster (q.v.); for spelling, see -re.
laconic (adj.) Look up laconic at
"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 Look up Lacoste at
Paris-based high-end apparel company, founded 1933, named for René Lacoste (1904-1996), company co-founder.
lacquer (n.) Look up lacquer at
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.) Look up lacquer at
"cover or coat with laqueur," 1680s, from lacquer (n.). Related: Lacquered; lacquering.
lacrosse (n.) Look up lacrosse at
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- (see crook). Originally a North American Indian game. The native name is represented by Ojibwa (Algonquian) baaga'adowe "to play lacrosse."
lactate (v.) Look up lactate at
"secrete milk from the breasts," 1889, probably a back-formation from lactation. Related: Lactated; lactating.
lactate (n.) Look up lactate at
1794, from stem of lactic + -ate (1).
lactation (n.) Look up lactation at
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- (see milk (n.)), 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.) Look up lacteal at
1650s, formed in English from Latin lacteus, from lac (genitive lactis) "milk," from PIE root *glakt- (see lactation) + -al (1).
lactic (adj.) Look up lactic at
"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- Look up lacto- at
before vowels, lac-, word-forming element meaning "milk," from Latin lac (genitive lactis) "milk," from PIE root *glakt- (see lactation).
lactose (n.) Look up lactose at
sugar from milk, 1843, from French, coined 1843 by French chemist Jean Baptiste André Dumas (1800-1884) from Latin lac (genitive lactis) "milk" (see lactation) + chemical suffix -ose (2).
lacuna (n.) Look up lacuna at
"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 Look up lacunae at
plural of lacuna (q.v.).
lacy (adj.) Look up lacy at
1804, from lace (n.) in the decorative sense + -y (2).
lad (n.) Look up lad at
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.) Look up ladder at
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.) Look up lade at
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.) Look up laden at
"loaded, weighted down," 1590s, from the original past participle of lade.
ladies (n.) Look up ladies at
plural of lady (q.v.).
Ladin (n.) Look up Ladin at
Rhaeto-Romanic dialect spoken in Switzerland and Tyrol, 1873, from Latin Latinus "Latin" (see Latin (adj.)).
lading (n.) Look up lading at
"act of loading a boat," early 15c., verbal noun from lade (v.).
Ladino (n.) Look up Ladino at
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.) Look up ladle at
"large, long-handled spoon for drawing liquids," Old English hlædel "ladle," from hladan "to load" (see lade) + instrumental suffix -el (1) expressing "appliance, tool" (handle (n.)). The verb is first recorded 1520s, from the noun. Related: Ladled; ladling.
lady (n.) Look up lady at
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 (n.)). 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.) Look up ladybird at
"sweetheart," 1590s, from lady + bird (n.2). As the name of an insect, 1670s (see ladybug).
ladybug (n.) Look up ladybug at
also lady-bug, 1690s, from lady + bug (n.). The "lady" is the Virgin Mary (compare German cognate Marienkäfer). In Britain, usually ladybird or lady-bird (1670s), supposedly through aversion to the word bug, which there has overtones of sodomy, but this seems to be the older form of the word. Also known 17c.-18c. as lady-cow or lady-fly.
ladylike (adj.) Look up ladylike at
also lady-like, 1580s; see lady + like (adj.). Middle English had ladily "queenly, exalted" (late 14c.).
Laertes Look up Laertes at
king of Ithaca, father of Odysseus, Greek, literally "gatherer of the people," from laos "people" (see lay (adj.)) + eirein "to fasten together" (see series (n.)).
lag (v.) Look up lag at
"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.) Look up lager at
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 Look up laggard at
1702 (adj.), from lag (v.) + -ard. From 1757 as a noun.
lagniappe (n.) Look up lagniappe at
"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"]
lagoon (n.) Look up lagoon at
1670s, lagune, earlier laguna (1610s), from French lagune or directly from Italian laguna "pond, lake," from Latin lacuna "pond, hole," from lacus "pond" (see lake (n.1)). Originally in reference to the region of Venice; applied 1769 (by Capt. Cook) to the lake-like stretch of water enclosed in a South Seas atoll. Also see -oon.
lai Look up lai at
see lay (n.).
laic (adj.) Look up laic at
1560s, from French laïque (16c.), from Late Latin laicus, from Greek laikos "of or belonging to the people," from laos "people" (see lay (adj.)).
laid Look up laid at
past tense and past participle of lay (v.). Laid-up "injured, sick," originally was a nautical term (1769) describing a ship moored in harbor. Laid off "temporarily unemployed" is from 1916. Get laid "have sex" (with someone) attested from 1952, U.S. slang. Laid-back "relaxed" is first attested 1973, perhaps in reference to the posture of highway motorcyclists. Laid up "incapacitated" originally was of ships.
laidly (adj.) Look up laidly at
c. 1300, Scottish and northern English variant of loathly "hideous, repulsive" (see loath).
lain Look up lain at
past participle of lie (v.2).
lair (n.) Look up lair at
Old English leger "bed, couch, grave; act or place of lying down," from Proto-Germanic *legraz (cognates: Old Norse legr "grave," also "nuptials" ("a lying down"); Old Frisian leger "situation," Old Saxon legar "bed," Middle Dutch legher "act or place of lying down," Dutch leger "bed, camp," Old High German legar "bed, a lying down," German Lager "bed, lair, camp, storehouse," Gothic ligrs "place of lying"), from PIE *legh- "to lie, lay" (see lie (v.2)). Meaning "animal's den" is from early 15c.
laird (n.) Look up laird at
mid-15c. (mid-13c. as a surname), Scottish and northern England dialectal variant of lord, from Middle English laverd (see lord). Related: Lairdship.
laissez-faire Look up laissez-faire at
laissez faire, 1822, French, literally "let (people) do (as they think best)," from laissez, imperative of laisser "to let, to leave" (from Latin laxare, from laxus "loose;" see lax) + faire "to do" (from Latin facere; see factitious). From the phrase laissez faire et laissez passer, motto of certain 18c. French economists, chosen to express the ideal of government non-interference in business and industry.
laity (n.) Look up laity at
"body of people not in religious orders," early 15c., from Anglo-French laite, from lay (adj.) + -ity.
lake (n.1) Look up lake at
"body of water," early 12c., from Old French lack and directly from Latin lacus "pond, lake," also "basin, tank," related to lacuna "hole, pit," from PIE *laku- (cognates: Greek lakkos "pit, tank, pond," Old Church Slavonic loky "pool, puddle, cistern," Old Irish loch "lake, pond"). The common notion is "basin." There was a Germanic form of the word, which yielded cognate Old Norse lögr "sea flood, water," Old English lacu "stream," lagu "sea flood, water," leccan "to moisten" (see leak (v.)). In Middle English, lake, as a descendant of the Old English word, also could mean "stream; river gully; ditch; marsh; grave; pit of hell," and this might have influenced the form of the borrowed word. The North American Great Lakes so called from 1660s.
lake (n.2) Look up lake at
"deep red coloring matter," 1610s, from French laque (see lac), from which it was obtained.
laker (n.) Look up laker at
used of people or things associated in various ways with a lake or lakes, including tourists to the English Lake country (1798); the poets (Wordsworth, etc.) who settled in that region (1814); boats on the North American Great Lakes (1887), and a person whose work is on lakes (1838); see lake (n.1). The U.S. professional basketball team began 1947 as the Minneapolis Lakers, where the name was appropriate; before the 1960-1 season it moved to Los Angeles, but the name was kept.
Lakshmi Look up Lakshmi at
Hindu goddess of beauty, from Sanskrit lakshmi "mark, fortue, riches, beauty."
lallygag (v.) Look up lallygag at
1862; see lollygag. Related: Lallygagged; lallygagging.