lemon (n.2) Look up lemon at Dictionary.com
"worthless thing," 1909, American English slang; from lemon (n.1), perhaps via criminal slang sense of "a person who is a loser, a simpleton," which is perhaps from the notion 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.
lemonade (n.) Look up lemonade at Dictionary.com
1660s, from French limonade (17c.); see lemon (n.1) + -ade. Earlier English spelling was lemonado (c. 1640) with false Spanish ending.
lemony (adj.) Look up lemony at Dictionary.com
1846, from lemon (n.1) + -y (2). In Australia/New Zealand slang, also "irritated, angry" (1941).
lemur (n.) Look up lemur at Dictionary.com
nocturnal Madagascar mammal, 1795, coined by Linnaeus, from Latin lemures (plural) "spirits of the dead" in Roman mythology, a word of uncertain origin, perhaps cognate with Greek lamia.
The oldest usage of "lemur" for a primate that we are aware of is in Linnaeus's catalog of the Museum of King Adolf Frederick of Sweden (Tattersall, 1982); .... In this work, he explained his use of the name "lemur" thus: "Lemures dixi hos, quod noctu imprimis obambulant, hominibus quodanmodo similes, & lento passu vagantur [I call them lemurs, because they go around mainly by night, in a certain way similar to humans, and roam with a slow pace]" [Dunkel, Alexander R., et al., "Giant rabbits, marmosets, and British comedies: etymology of lemur names, part 1," in "Lemur News," vol. 16, 2011-2012, p.65]
Lemuria (1864) was the name given by English zoologist P.L. Sclater (1829-1913) to a hypothetical ancient continent connecting Africa and Southeastern Asia (and including Madagascar), which was hypothesized to explain phenomena now accounted for by continental drift. Earlier it was the name of the Roman feast of the Lemures.
Lena Look up Lena at Dictionary.com
fem. proper name, originally a shortened form of Helena or Magdalena.
Lenape Look up Lenape at Dictionary.com
1728, native name for Delaware Indians, said to mean "original people."
lend (v.) Look up lend at Dictionary.com
late 14c., from Old English lænan "to lend," from læn "loan" (see loan). Cognate with Dutch lenen, Old High German lehanon, German lehnen, also verbs derived from nouns. Past tense form, with terminal -d, became the principal form in Middle English on analogy of bend, send, etc.
lender (n.) Look up lender at Dictionary.com
Old English laenere, agent noun from lænan (see lend (v.)).
length (n.) Look up length at Dictionary.com
Old English lengðu "length," from Proto-Germanic *langitho, noun of quality from *langgaz (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. 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.
lengthen (v.) Look up lengthen at Dictionary.com
late 14c., from length + -en (1). Related: Lengthened; lengthening. Earlier verb was simply length (c. 1300).
lengthways Look up lengthways at Dictionary.com
1590s, from length + way (n.), with adverbial genitive -s.
lengthwise (adv.) Look up lengthwise at Dictionary.com
1570s, from length + wise (n.). As an adjective by 1871.
lengthy (adj.) Look up lengthy at Dictionary.com
1759, American English, from length + -y (2). Until c. 1840 always characterized in British English as an Americanism.
This word has been very common among us, both in writing and in the language of conversation; but it has been so much ridiculed by Americans as well as Englishmen, that in writing it is now generally avoided. Mr. Webster has admitted it into his dictionary; but as need hardly be remarked it is not in any of the English ones. It is applied by us, as Mr. Webster justly observes, chiefly to writings or discourses. Thus we say, a lengthy pamphlet, a lengthy sermon, &c. The English would say, a long or (in the more familiar style) a longish sermon. [John Pickering, "A Vocabulary, or Collection of Words and Phrases Which Have Been Supposed to be Peculiar to the United States of America," Boston, 1816]
Related: Lengthily; lengthiness.
lenience (n.) Look up lenience at Dictionary.com
1796, from lenient + -ence.
leniency (n.) Look up leniency at Dictionary.com
1780, from lenient + -cy.
lenient (adj.) Look up lenient at Dictionary.com
1650s, "relaxing, soothing," from Middle French lenient, from Latin lenientem (nominative leniens), present participle of lenire "to soften, alleviate, mitigate, allay, calm," from lenis "mild, gentle, calm," which probably is from PIE root *le- "to leave, yield, let go, slacken" (source also of Lithuanian lenas "quiet, tranquil, tame, slow," Old Church Slavonic lena "lazy," Latin lassus "faint, weary," Old English læt "sluggish, slow," lætan "to leave behind"). Sense of "mild, merciful" (of persons) first recorded 1787. In earlier use was lenitive, attested from early 15c. of medicines, 1610s of persons.
Lenin Look up Lenin at Dictionary.com
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).
lenitive (adj.) Look up lenitive at Dictionary.com
early 15c., from Medieval Latin lenitivus, from Latin lenitus, past participle of lenire "to soften" (see lenient). As a noun, from early 15c.
lenity (n.) Look up lenity at Dictionary.com
"softness," early 15c., from Middle French lénité or directly from Latin lenitatem (nominative lenitas), from lenis "soft, mild" (see lenient).
lens (n.) Look up lens at Dictionary.com
1690s, "glass to regulate light rays," from Latin lens (genitive lentis) "lentil," on analogy of the double-convex shape. See lentil. Of the eye from 1719.
In the vernacular of the photographer, anyone crowding to the front of a group, staring into the lens, or otherwise attracting attention to himself is known as a "lens louse." ["American Photography," vol. 40, 1946; the term dates from 1915]
Lent (n.) Look up Lent at Dictionary.com
late 14c., short for Lenten (n.) "forty days before Easter" (early 12c.), from Old English lencten "springtime, spring," the season, also "the fast of Lent," from West Germanic *langa-tinaz "long-days" (cognate with Old Saxon lentin, Middle Dutch lenten, Old High German lengizin manoth), from *lanngaz (root of Old English lang "long;" see long (adj.)) + *tina-, a root meaning "day" (compare Gothic sin-teins "daily"), cognate with Old Church Slavonic dini, Lithuanian diena, Latin dies "day" (see diurnal).

the compound probably refers to the increasing daylight. Compare similar form evolution in Dutch lente (Middle Dutch lentin), German Lenz (Old High German lengizin) "spring." Church sense of "period between Ash Wednesday and Easter" is peculiar to English.
Lenten (adj.) Look up Lenten at Dictionary.com
late Old English, from Lent + -en (2). Elizabethan English had Lenten-faced "lean and dismal" (c. 1600).
lenticular (adj.) Look up lenticular at Dictionary.com
early 15c., from Late Latin lenticularis, from lenticula "a small lentil," diminutive of lens "lentil" (see lentil). Related: Lenticularity.
lentil (n.) Look up lentil at Dictionary.com
mid-13c., from Old French lentille "lentil," also "freckle," from Latin lenticula, diminutive of Latin lens (genitive lentis) "lentil," cognate with Greek lathyros, German linse, Old Church Slavonic lęšta.
lento Look up lento at Dictionary.com
"slowly" (musical direction), 1724, from Italian lento "slow," from Latin lentus "flexible, pliant, slow, sluggish" (see lithe). Related: Lentissimo.
Leo Look up Leo at Dictionary.com
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.
Leon Look up Leon at Dictionary.com
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.; the name probably then conformed to Spanish leon "lion." Related: Leonese.
Leonard Look up Leonard at Dictionary.com
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" (see hard (adj.)).
leonine (adj.) Look up leonine at Dictionary.com
"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.
leopard (n.) Look up leopard at Dictionary.com
late 13c., from Old French lebard, leupart (12c., Modern French léopard), from Late Latin leopardus, literally "lion-pard," from Greek leopardos, from leon "lion" + pardos "male panther," which generally is said to be connected to Sanskrit prdakuh "panther, tiger." The animal was thought in ancient times to be a hybrid of these two species.
Leopold Look up Leopold at Dictionary.com
masc. proper name, from French Léopold, from Old High German Leutpald, Liutbald, literally "bold among the people," from leudi "people" + bald "bold."
leotard (n.) Look up leotard at Dictionary.com
1881, leotards, named for Jules Léotard (1830-1870), popular French trapeze artist, who performed in such a garment.
leper (n.) Look up leper at Dictionary.com
"one afflicted with leprosy," late 14c., from Late Latin lepra, from Greek lepra "leprosy," from fem. of lepros (adj.) "scaly," from leops "a scale," related to lepein "to peel," from lopos "a peel," from PIE root *lep- "to peel, scale" (see leaf (n.)). Originally the word for the disease itself (mid-13c.); because of the -er ending it came to mean "person with leprosy," so leprosy was coined 16c. from adjective leprous.
Lepidoptera (n.) Look up Lepidoptera at Dictionary.com
1773, "insects with four scaly wings," the biological classification that includes butterflies and moths, coined 1735 in Modern Latin by Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus (Karl von Linné, 1707-1778) from Greek lepido-, comb. form of lepis (genitive lepidos) "(fish) scale" (related to lepein "to peel;" see leper) + pteron "wing, feather" (see ptero-).
lepidopterist (n.) Look up lepidopterist at Dictionary.com
1826, from Lepidoptera + -ist.
leprechaun (n.) Look up leprechaun at Dictionary.com
c. 1600, from Irish lupracan, metathesis of Old Irish luchorpan literally "a very small body," from lu "little" (from PIE *legwh- "having little weight;" see light (adj.)) + corpan, diminutive of corp "body," from Latin corpus "body" (see corporeal). Commonly spelled lubrican in 17c. English. Leithbragan 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."
leprosy (n.) Look up leprosy at Dictionary.com
1530s (earlier lepruse, mid-15c.), from leprous; see leper. First used in Coverdale Bible, where it renders Hebrew cara'ath, which apparently was a comprehensive term for skin diseases. Because of pejorative associations, the use of the word in medical context has been banned by the World Health Organization and replaced by Hansen's disease (1938), named for Norwegian physician Gerhard Henrik Armauer Hansen (1841-1912) who in 1871 discovered the bacillus that causes it.
leprous (adj.) Look up leprous at Dictionary.com
early 13c., leprus, from Old French lepros (Modern French lépreux), from Late Latin leprosus, from Latin lepra "leprosy" (see leper).
lepton (n.) Look up lepton at Dictionary.com
elementary particle of small mass, 1948, from Greek leptos "small, slight, slender, delicate" (from lepein "to peel," from PIE *lep-; see leper) + -on. Also the name of a small coin in ancient Greece, from neuter of leptos
lesbian (adj.) Look up lesbian at Dictionary.com
1590s, "pertaining to the island of Lesbos," from Latin Lesbius, from Greek lesbios "of Lesbos," Greek island in northeastern Aegean Sea (the name originally may have meant "wooded"), home of Sappho, great lyric poet whose erotic and romantic verse embraced women as well as men, hence meaning "relating to homosexual relations between women" (1890; lesbianism in this sense is attested from 1870) and the noun, first recorded 1925.

Her particular association in English with erotic love between women dates to at least 1825, though the words formed from it are later. Before this, the principal figurative use (common in 17c.) was lesbian rule (c. 1600) a mason's rule of lead, of a type used on Lesbos, which could be bent to fit the curves of a molding; hence, "pliant morality or judgment."
And this is the nature of the equitable, a correction of law where it is defective owing to its universality. ... For when the thing is indefinite the rule also is indefinite, like the leaden rule used in making the Lesbian moulding; the rule adapts itself to the shape of the stone and is not rigid, and so too the decree is adapted to the facts. [Aristotle, "Nicomachean Ethics"]
See also tribadism. Greek had a verb lesbiazein "to imitate the Lesbians," which implied "sexual initiative and shamelessness" among women (especially fellatio), but not necessarily female homosexuality.
lesbianism (n.) Look up lesbianism at Dictionary.com
1870, from lesbian + -ism.
lesbo Look up lesbo at Dictionary.com
by 1940, colloquial shortening of lesbian.
lese-majesty (n.) Look up lese-majesty at Dictionary.com
"offense against sovereign authority, treason," 1530s (mid-15c. as an Anglo-French word), from French lèse-majesté, from Latin laesa majestos "violated majesty," from laesus, past participle of laedere "to hurt, injure, damage, offend, insult," of unknown origin.
lesion (n.) Look up lesion at Dictionary.com
early 15c., from Middle French lesion, from Latin laesionem (nominative laesio) "injury," from past participle stem of laedere "to strike, hurt, damage," of unknown origin. Originally with reference to any sort of hurt, whether physical or not.
less Look up less at Dictionary.com
Old English læs (adv.), læssa (adj.), comparative of læs "small;" from Proto-Germanic *lais-izo "smaller" (cognates: Old Saxon, Old Frisian les "less;" Middle Dutch lise "soft, gentle," German leise "soft"), from PIE root *leis- (2) "small" (cognates: Lithuanian liesas "thin"). Formerly also "younger," as a translation of Latin minor, a sense now obsolete except in James the Less. Used as a comparative of little, but not related to it. The noun is Old English læsse.
lessee (n.) Look up lessee at Dictionary.com
"one to whom a lease is given," late 15c., from Anglo-French lesee, Old French lessé, past participle of lesser (Modern French laisser) "to let, leave" (see lease).
lessen (v.) Look up lessen at Dictionary.com
"to become less," c. 1300, from less + -en (1). Related: Lessened; lessening.
lesser (adj.) Look up lesser at Dictionary.com
early 13c., a double comparative, from less + -er (2). Johnson calls it "a barbarous corruption of less, formed by the vulgar from the habit of terminating comparatives in -er." As an adverb from 1590s; now generally poetic or obsolete except in expression lesser-known (1813).
lesson (n.) Look up lesson at Dictionary.com
early 13c., "a reading aloud from the Bible," also "something to be learned by a student," from Old French leçon, from Latin lectionem (nominative lectio) "a reading," noun of action from past participle stem of legere "to read" (see lecture (n.)). Transferred sense of "an occurrence from which something can be learned" is from 1580s.
lessor (n.) Look up lessor at Dictionary.com
"one who grants a lease," late 14c., from Anglo-French lessor (late 13c.), from verb lesser (see lease).