- lie (n.1)
- "an untruth, false statement made with intent to deceive," Old English lyge, lige "lie, falsehood," from Proto-Germanic *lugiz (source also of Old Norse lygi, Danish løgn, Old Frisian leyne (fem.), Dutch leugen (fem.), Old High German lugi, German Lüge, Gothic liugn "a lie"), from the root of lie (v.1). To give the lie to "accuse directly of lying" is attested from 1590s. Lie-detector first recorded 1909.
In mod. use, the word is normally a violent expression of moral reprobation, which in polite conversation tends to be avoided, the synonyms falsehood and untruth being often substituted as relatively euphemistic. [OED]
- lie (n.2)
- "manner of lying, relative position," 1690s, from lie (v.2). Sense in golf is from 1857.
- lie-down (n.)
- period of rest reclining, 1840, from the verbal phrase (attested from c. 1200); see lie (v.2) + down (adv.).
- Liebfraumilch (n.)
- German white wine, 1833, from German, literally "milk of Our Lady."
- German, literally "light stone."
- lied (n.)
- "German romantic song," 1852, from German Lied (plural Lieder), literally "song," from Middle High German liet, from Old High German liod, from Proto-Germanic *leuthan, from a PIE echoic root (see laud). Hence Liederkranz "German singing society," from German, literally "garland of songs."
- lief (adv.)
- "dearly, gladly, willingly" (obsolete or archaic), c. 1250, from Middle English adjective lief "esteemed, beloved, dear," from Old English leof "dear, valued, beloved, pleasant" (also as a noun, "a beloved person, friend"), from Proto-Germanic *leubo- (source also of Old Norse ljutr, Old Frisian liaf, Dutch lief, Old High German liob, German lieb, Gothic liufs "dear, beloved"), from PIE root *leubh- "to love, care, desire" (see love (n.)).
Often with the dative and in personal constructions with have or would in expressions of choice or preference (and yet, to say the truth, I had as lief have the foppery of freedom, as the morality of imprisonment; "Measure for Measure"). I want and I'd love to are overworked and misused to fill the hole left in the language when I would lief faded in 17c.
- liege (adj.)
- c. 1300, of lords, "entitled to feudal allegiance and service," from Anglo-French lige (late 13c.), Old French lige "liege-lord," noun use of an adjective meaning "free, giving or receiving fidelity" (corresponding to Medieval Latin ligius, legius), a word of uncertain origin. Perhaps from Late Latin laeticus "cultivated by serfs," from laetus "serf," which probably is from Proto-Germanic *lethiga- "freed" (source also of Old English læt "half-freedman, serf;" Old High German laz, Old Frisian lethar "freedman;" Middle Dutch ledich "idle, unemployed"), from PIE root *le- (2) "let go, slacken" (see let (v.)). Or the Middle English word might be directly from Old High German leidig "free," on the notion of "free from obligation to service except as vassal to one lord," but this reverses the notion contained in the word.
From late 14c. of vassals, "bound to render feudal allegiance and service." The dual sense of the adjective reflects the reciprocal relationship it describes: protection in exchange for service. Hence, liege-man "a vassal sworn to the service and support of a lord, who in turn is obliged to protect him" (mid-14c.).
- liege (n.)
- late 14c., "vassal of a feudal lord," also "a feudal sovereign, a liege-lord," probably from liege (adj.)) or from a noun use of the adjective in Old French or Anglo-French. A fully reciprocal relationship, so the adjective could apply to either party. Old French distinguished them as lige seignur "liege-lord" and home lige "liege-man."
- lien (n.)
- "right to hold property of another until debt is paid," 1530s, from Middle French lien "a band or tie" (12c.), from Latin ligamen "bond," from ligare "to bind, tie" (see ligament). The word was in Middle English in the literal sense "a bond, fetter," also figuratively, "moral restraint."
- word-forming element meaning "spleen, pertaining to the spleen, spleen and," from Latin lien "spleen" (see spleen).
- lier (n.)
- "one who reclines; one who is laid to rest," 1590s, agent noun from lie (v.2). Lier-by "kept mistress" is from 1580s.
- lieu (n.)
- late 13c., usually as part of the phrase in lieu of "in the place, room, or stead of," from Old French lieu, lou "place, position, situation, rank" (10c.) from Latin locum (nominative locus) "a place" (see locus).
- lieutenancy (n.)
- "office or authority of a lieutenant," mid-15c., from lieutenant + -cy.
- lieutenant (n.)
- late 14c., "one who takes the place of another," from Old French lieu tenant "substitute, deputy," literally "place holder" (14c.), from lieu "place" (see lieu) + tenant, present participle of tenir "to hold" (see tenant). The notion is of a "substitute" for higher authority.
Specific military sense of "army officer next in rank to a captain and commanding the company in his absence" is from 1570s. Pronunciation with lef- is common in Britain, and spellings to reflect it date back to 14c., but the origin of this is a mystery (OED rejects suggestion that it comes from old confusion of -u- and -v-).
- life (n.)
- Old English life (dative lif) "animated corporeal existence; lifetime, period between birth and death; the history of an individual from birth to death, written account of a person's life; way of life (good or bad); condition of being a living thing, opposite of death; spiritual existence imparted by God, through Christ, to the believer," from Proto-Germanic *libam (source also of Old Norse lif "life, body," Old Frisian, Old Saxon lif "life, person, body," Dutch lijf "body," Old High German lib "life," German Leib "body"), properly "continuance, perseverance," from PIE *leip- "to remain, persevere, continue; stick, adhere" (see leave (v.)).
The noun associated with live (v.) "to live," which is literally "to continue, remain." Extended 1703 to inanimate objects, "term of duration or existence." Sense of "vitality, energy in action, expression, etc." is from 1580s. Meaning "conspicuously active part of human existence, pleasures or pursuits of the world or society" is by 1770s. Meaning "cause or source of living" led to the sense "vivifying or animating principle," and thus "one who keeps things lively" in life of the party (1787). Meaning "imprisonment for life, a life sentence" is from 1903. Paired alliteratively with limb from 1640s. Not on your life "by no means" is attested from 1896.
In gaming, an additional turn at play for a character; this transferred use was prefigured by uses in card-playing (1806), billiards (1856), etc., in reference to a certain number of chances or required objects without which one's turn at the game fails. The life "the living form or model, semblance" is from 1590s. Life-and-death "of dire importance" is from 1822; life-or-death (adj.) is from 1897. Life-jacket is from 1840; life-preserver from 1630s of anything that is meant to save a life, 1803 of devices worn to prevent drowning. Life-saver is from 1883, figurative use from 1909, as a brand of hard sugar candy from 1912, so called for shape.
Life-form is from 1861; life-cycle is from 1855; life-expectancy from 1847; life-history in biology from 1870; life-science from 1935. Life-work "the labor to which one's life has been devoted" is from 1848. Expression this is the life is from 1919; verbal shrug that's life is from 1924 (earlier such is life, 1778).
- life of Riley (n.)
- "life at ease," expression popularized by 1917, American English, sometimes said to trace to various songs from c. 1902.
- life-boat (n.)
- "boat built for saving lives at sea," especially in a shipwreck, also lifeboat, 1801 (the thing itself attested by 1785), from life (n.) + boat.
- life-line (n.)
- also lifeline, 1700, "rope used to save lives" in any way (especially for the safety of sailors on vessels in bad weather or on the yards), from life (n.) + line (n.); figurative sense first attested 1860. Sense in palmistry from 1890.
- life-raft (n.)
- "raft designed to save lives in case of shipwreck," 1819, from life (n.) + raft (n.1).
- life-saving (adj.)
- 1829, from life (n.) + present participle of save (v.).
- life-size (adj.)
- "of the same size as the (living) original," 1820, from life (n.) + size (n.). Life-sized in the same sense is from 1847.
- lifeblood (n.)
- also life-blood, 1580s, "blood necessary for life," from life (n.) + blood (n.). Figurative and transferred use for "that which is essential to the life or strength of, that which gives vitality to" is from 1590s.
- lifeguard (n.)
- also life-guard, 1640s, "a British monarch's bodyguard of soldiers," from life (n.) + guard (n.), translating German Leibgarde. Sense of "person paid to watch over bathers" is by 1891.
- lifeless (adj.)
- Old English lifleas "inanimate; dead;" see life + -less. Figurative sense from early 13c. Meaning "with no living things" is from 1728. Related: Lifelessly; lifelessness. A common Germanic compound (compare Old Frisian liflas, Middle Low German liflos, Swedish liflös, Danish livlös, and, from a different but related noun, German leblos, Dutch levenloos).
- lifelike (adj.)
- 1610s, "likely to live," from life (n.) + like (adj.). Meaning "exactly like the living original" is from 1725.
- lifelong (adj.)
- also life-long, "continuing a lifetime," 1855, from life (n.) + long (adj.).
- lifer (n.)
- "prisoner serving a life sentence," 1830, from life (n.).
- lifespan (n.)
- also life-span, 1918, from life (n.) + span (n.1).
- lifestyle (n.)
- also life-style, 1929, from life (n.) + style (n.); originally a specific term used by Austrian psychologist Alfred Adler (1870-1937) for "a person's basic character as established early in childhood;" broader sense "way or style of living" is by 1961.
- lifetime (n.)
- also life-time, "duration of one's life," early 13c., from life (n.) + time (n.). One word from 19c. Old English had lifdæg in same sense, literally "life day."
- lifeway (n.)
- "way of life," 1963, an unconscious revival of Old English lifweg; see life (n.) + way (n.).
- lift (v.)
- c. 1200, "elevate in rank or dignity, exalt;" c. 1300, "to raise from the ground or other surface, pick up; erect, set in place," also intransitive, "to rise in waves;" early 14c., "remove (someone or something) from its place," from Old Norse lypta "to raise" (Scandinavian -pt- pronounced like -ft-), from Proto-Germanic *luftijan (source also of Middle Low German lüchten, Dutch lichten, German lüften "to lift"), a Proto-Germanic verb from the general Germanic noun for "air, sky, upper regions, atmosphere" (see loft (n.)), giving the verb an etymological sense of "to move up into the air."
Intransitive sense of "to rise, to seem to rise" (of clouds, fogs, etc.) is from 1834. Figurative sense of "to encourage" (with up) is mid-15c. The meaning "steal, take up dishonestly" (as in shoplift) is 1520s. Surgical sense of "to raise" (a person's face) is from 1921. Middle English also had a verb liften (c. 1400). Related: Lifted; lifting.
- lift (n.)
- mid-14c., "a man's load, as much as a man can carry;" late 15c., "act or action of lifting," from lift (v.). Figurative use from 1620s. Meaning "act of helping" is 1630s; that of "cheering influence" is from 1861. Sense of "elevator, hoisting machine to raise or lower between floors of a building" is from 1851; that of "upward force of an aircraft" is from 1902. Meaning "help given to a pedestrian by taking him along his way in a vehicle" is from 1712. As a dance move, from 1921. Sense of "heel-lift in a boot or shoe" is from 1670s.
The word once had a twin, Middle English lift "the air, the atmosphere; the sky, the firmament," from Old English lyft "air" (see loft (n.)).
- lift-off (adj.)
- "removable by lifting," 1907, from the verbal phrase, from lift (v.) + off (adv.)
- liftable (adj.)
- 1833, from lift (v.) + -able.
- liftback (n.)
- in reference to a type of hatchback automobile, 1973, from lift (v.) + back (n.).
- liftoff (n.)
- also lift-off, "vertical take-off of a rocket, etc.," 1956, American English, from the verbal phrase, from lift (v.) + off (adv.). Earlier, of aircraft, simply lift (1879). Figurative use from 1967.
- ligament (n.)
- band of tough tissue binding bones, late 14c., from Latin ligamentum "a band, bandage, tie, ligature," from ligare "to bind, tie," from PIE *leig- "to bind" (source also of Albanian lith "I bind," and possibly Middle Low German lik "band," Middle High German geleich "joint, limb"). Related: Ligamental; ligamentous; ligamentary.
- ligand (n.)
- in chemistry, 1952, from Latin ligandus, gerundive of ligare "to bind" (see ligament).
- ligate (v.)
- "bind with a ligature," 1590s, from Latin ligatus, past participle of ligare "to bind" (see ligament). Related: Ligated; ligating.
- ligation (n.)
- "a tying or binding, as with a ligature," 1590s, from Middle French ligation, from Late Latin ligationem (nominative ligatio), noun of action from past participle stem of ligare "to bind" (see ligament). Liaison is the same word in French form.
- ligature (n.)
- c. 1400, "something used in tying or binding," from Middle French ligature "a binding" (14c.), from Late Latin ligatura "a band," from Latin ligatus, past participle of ligare "to bind" (see ligament). In modern musical notation, "group of notes slurred together," from 1590s; of letters joined in printing or writing from 1690s.
- liger (n.)
- 1938, the word, like the thing, a forced mating of lion and tiger.
- light (n.)
- "brightness, radiant energy, that which makes things visible," Old English leht, earlier leoht "light, daylight; spiritual illumination," from Proto-Germanic *leukhtam (source also of Old Saxon lioht, Old Frisian liacht, Middle Dutch lucht, Dutch licht, Old High German lioht, German Licht, Gothic liuhaþ "light"), from PIE *leuk- "light, brightness" (source also of Sanskrit rocate "shines;" Armenian lois "light," lusin "moon;" Greek leukos "bright, shining, white;" Latin lucere "to shine," lux "light," lucidus "clear;" Old Church Slavonic luci "light;" Lithuanian laukas "pale;" Welsh llug "gleam, glimmer;" Old Irish loche "lightning," luchair "brightness;" Hittite lukezi "is bright").
The -gh- was an Anglo-French scribal attempt to render the Germanic hard -h- sound, which has since disappeared from this word. The figurative spiritual sense was in Old English; the sense of "mental illumination" is first recorded mid-15c. Meaning "something used for igniting" is from 1680s. Meaning "a consideration which puts something in a certain view" (as in in light of) is from 1680s. Short for traffic light from 1938. Quaker use is by 1650s; New Light/Old Light in church doctrine also is from 1650s. Meaning "person eminent or conspicuous" is from 1590s. A source of joy or delight has been the light of (someone's) eyes since Old English:
Ðu eart dohtor min, minra eagna leoht [Juliana].
Phrases such as according to (one's) lights "to the best of one's natural or acquired capacities" preserve an older sense attested from 1520s. To figuratively stand in (someone's) light is from late 14c. To see the light "come into the world" is from 1680s; later as "come to full realization" (1812). The rock concert light-show is from 1966. To be out like a light "suddenly or completely unconscious" is from 1934.
- light (adj.1)
- "not heavy, having little actual weight," from Old English leoht "not heavy, light in weight; lightly constructed; easy to do, trifling; quick, agile," also of food, sleep, etc., from Proto-Germanic *lingkhtaz (source also of Old Norse lettr, Swedish lätt, Old Frisian, Middle Dutch licht, German leicht, Gothic leihts), from PIE root *legwh- "not heavy, having little weight" (source also of Latin levis "light;" see lever). The adverb is Old English leohte, from the adjective.
Meaning "frivolous" is from early 13c.; that of "unchaste" from late 14c., both from the notion of "lacking moral gravity" (compare levity). Of literature from 1590s. Light industry (1919) makes use of relatively lightweight materials. The notion in make light of (1520s) is "unimportance." Alternative spelling lite, the darling of advertisers, is first recorded 1962. Light horse "light armed cavalry" is from 1530s. Light-skirts "woman of easy virtue" is attested from 1590s. Lighter-than-air (adj.) is from 1887.
- light (v.1)
- "to touch down," as a bird from flight, "get down or descend," as a person from horseback, from Old English lihtan "to alight; to alleviate, make less heavy," from Proto-Germanic *linkhtijan, literally "to make light," from *lingkhtaz "not heavy" (see light (adj.1)). Apparently the etymological sense is "to dismount" (a horse, etc.), and thus relieve it of one's weight."
Alight has become the more usual word. To light on "happen upon, come upon" is from late 15c. To light out "leave hastily, decamp" is 1866, from a nautical meaning "move out, move heavy objects" (1841), a word of unknown origin but perhaps belonging to this word (compare lighter (n.1)).
- light (v.2)
- "to shed light; to set on fire," late Old English lihtan (Anglian), liehtan (West Saxon), originally transitive, "to ignite, set on fire," also in a spiritual sense, "to illuminate, fill with brightness." It is common Germanic (cognates: Old Saxon liohtian, Old High German liuhtan, German leuchten, Gothic liuhtjan "to light"), from the source of light (n.).
Meaning "furnish light for" is from c. 1200; sense of "emit light, shed light, shine" is from c. 1300. Buck writes that light is "much more common than kindle even with fire, and only light, not kindle, with candle, lamp, pipe, etc." To light up is from c. 1200 as "give light to" (a room, etc.); 1861 in reference to a pipe, cigar, etc. Related: Lighted; lighting.
- light (adj.2)
- "not dark," Old English leoht "luminous, bright, beautiful, shining; having much light," common Germanic (cognates: Old Saxon and Old High German lioht, Old Frisian liacht, German licht "bright"), from the source of Old English leoht (see light (n.)). Meaning "pale-hued" is from 1540s; prefixed to other color adjectives from early 15c.
- light bulb (n.)
- also lightbulb, 1884, from light (n.) + bulb (n.). Changing one as figurative of something easy to do is from 1920s; jokes about how many of a certain type it takes to change one date from 1971.