legitimize (v.) Look up legitimize at Dictionary.com
1795, from Latin legitimus (see legitimate) + -ize. Earlier was legitimatize (1791). Related: Legitimized; legitimizing.
legless (adj.) Look up legless at Dictionary.com
1590s, from leg (n.) + -less. Related: Leglessly; leglessness.
Lego Look up Lego at Dictionary.com
1954, proprietary name (in use since 1934, according to the company), from Danish phrase leg godt "play well." The founder, Ole Kirk Christiansen, didn't realize until later that the word meant "I study" or "I put together" in Latin.
legume (n.) Look up legume at Dictionary.com
plant of the group of the pulse family, 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. Used in Middle English in the Latin form legumen (late 14c.).
leguminous (adj.) Look up leguminous at Dictionary.com
early 15c., from Latin legumen (see legume) + -ous.
lei (n.) Look up lei at Dictionary.com
1843, from Hawaiian, "ornament worn about the neck or head."
Leica Look up Leica at Dictionary.com
1925, proprietary name of cameras made by firm of Ernst & Leitz Gesellschaft, Wetzlar, Germany.
Leicester Look up Leicester at Dictionary.com
Ligera ceaster (early 10c.) "Roman Town of the People Called Ligore," a tribal name, of unknown origin. For second element, see Chester.
Leila Look up Leila at Dictionary.com
fem. proper name, from Arabic Laylah, literally "dark as night," from laylah "night."
leio- Look up leio- at Dictionary.com
word-forming element meaning "smooth," from Greek leio-, comb. form of leios "smooth." E.g. leiotrichy "condition of having straight, lank hair" (1924).
leisure (n.) Look up leisure at Dictionary.com
early 14c., leisir, "opportunity to do something" (as in phrase at (one's) leisure), also "time at one's disposal," from Old French leisir (Modern French loisir) "capacity; permission; leisure, spare time; free will; idleness, inactivity," noun use of infinitive leisir "be permitted," from Latin licere "be permitted" (see licence). The -u- appeared 16c., probably on analogy of words like pleasure. Phrase leisured class attested by 1836.
leisurely (adj.) Look up leisurely at Dictionary.com
c. 1600, from leisure (n.) + -ly (1). As an adverb, with -ly (2), from late 15c. Related: Leisureliness.
leitmotif (n.) Look up leitmotif at Dictionary.com
1876, "a musical figure to which some definite meaning is attached," from German Leitmotiv, literally "lead 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"]
lek (v.) Look up lek at Dictionary.com
to engage in courtship displays of certain animals, 1871, probably from Swedish leka "to play," cognate of English dialectal verb lake (see lark (v.)).
LEM (n.) Look up LEM at Dictionary.com
acronym (initialism) for lunar excursion module, 1963, from the U.S. space program.
leman (n.) Look up leman at Dictionary.com
"sweetheart, paramour" (archaic), late 13c., from Middle English leofman (c. 1200), from Old English leof "dear" (see lief) + man "human being, person" (see man (n.)). Originally of either gender, though deliberate archaic usage tends to limit it to women.
lemma (n.) Look up lemma at Dictionary.com
1560s, first in mathematics, from Greek lemma (plural lemmata) "something received or taken; an argument; something taken for granted," from root of lambanein "to take" (see analemma).
lemming (n.) Look up lemming at Dictionary.com
small arctic rodent, c. 1600, from Norwegian lemming, from Old Norse lomundr "lemming." Perhaps from Lapp luomek. Figurative sense (in reference to their mass migrations that sometimes end in plunges into the sea) is from 1958.
lemniscus (n.) Look up lemniscus at Dictionary.com
1811, from Late Latin lemniscus "a pendent ribbon," from Greek lemniskos "woolen ribbon," perhaps originally or literally "of Lemnos," island in the Aegean. Related: Lemniscate (1781).
lemon (n.1) Look up lemon at Dictionary.com
type of citrus fruit, c. 1400, lymon, from Old French limon "citrus fruit" (12c.), via Provençal or Italian from Arabic laimun, from Persian limu(n), generic terms for citrus fruits (compare lime (n.2)); cognate with Sanskrit nimbu "the lime." Slang meaning "a Quaalude" is 1960s, from Lemmon, name of a pharmaceutical company that once manufactured the drug.
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, 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 malevolent spirits.
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- (2) "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.