- litigious (adj.)
- late 14c., "fond of disputes," from Middle French litigieux and directly from Latin litigiosus "contentious, quarrelsome," from litigium "dispute, strife," related to litigare (see litigation). Meaning "fond of engaging in lawsuits" is from 1620s. Earlier in English than litigate or litigation. Related: Litigiousness.
- litmus (n.)
- "blue dye-stuff obtained from certain lichens," early 14c., from Middle Dutch lijkmoes (Dutch lakmoes), from lac (see lac) + moes "pulp." Another theory is that it represents Old Norse litmose, literally "lichen for dying," from Old Norse lita "to dye, to stain," from litr "color, dye" (see lit (n.1)) + mos "moss." Yet another idea connects the first element to Middle Dutch leken "to drip, leak" (see leak (v.)).
Whichever was the original word, it probably was influenced by the others. The dye is obtained from certain lichens. It is naturally blue but turns red in acid and is restored to blue by alkalis. Figurative use of litmus test is first attested 1957, from scientific use of litmus-treated paper as a chemical indicator. Litmus paper with this meaning is from 1803.
- litotes (n.)
- rhetorical figure in which an affirmative is expressed by the negative of its opposite, from Greek litotes, literally "plainness, simplicity," from litos "smooth, plain, small, meager," from PIE root *(s)lei- "slimy, sticky, slippery" (hence "smooth"); see slime (n.).
- litter (n.)
- c. 1300, "a bed," also "bed-like vehicle carried on men's shoulders" (early 14c.), from Anglo-French litere "portable bed," Old French litiere "litter, stretcher, bier; straw, bedding," from Medieval Latin lectaria "litter" (altered in French by influence of lit "bed"), from Latin lectus "bed, couch," from PIE *legh-to-, from root *legh- "to lie" (see lie (v.2)).
Meaning extended early 15c. to "straw used for bedding" (early 14c. in Anglo-French) and late 15c. to "offspring of an animal at one birth" (in one bed); sense of "scattered oddments, disorderly debris" is first attested 1730, probably from Middle English verb literen "provide with bedding" (late 14c.), with notion of strewing straw. Litter by 19c. had come to mean both the straw bedding and the animal waste in it after use.
- litter (v.)
- late 14c., "provide with bedding," from litter (n.). Meaning "to strew with objects" is from 1713. Transitive sense of "to scatter in a disorderly way" is from 1731. Related: Littered; littering.
- litterateur (n.)
- "a literary man," 1806, from French littérateur, from Latin litterator "a grammarian, philologist," from littera "letter" (see letter (n.1)). Sometimes Englished as literator (1630s, often with a deprecatory sense). Fem. form is littératrice.
- litterbug (n.)
- 1947, from litter + bug (n.). According to Mario Pei ("The Story of Language," Lippincott, 1949) "coined by the New York subways on the analogy of 'jitterbug' ...."
- littering (n.)
- 1540s, of animals, "process of bringing forth young in a single birth," verbal noun from present participle of litter (v.). Meaning "act of furnishing with bedding" is from c. 1600. That of "act of dropping litter" is from 1900.
- little (adj.)
- Old English lytel "not large, not much; short in distance or time; unimportant," also used in late Old English as a noun, "small piece; a short time," from Proto-Germanic *lutilla- (source also of Old Saxon luttil, Dutch luttel, Old High German luzzil, German lützel, Gothic leitils "little"), perhaps originally a diminutive of the root of Old English lyt "little, few," from PIE *leud- "small." "Often synonymous with small, but capable of emotional implications which small is not" [OED].
Phrase the little woman "wife" attested from 1795. Little people "the faeries" is from 1726; as "children," it is attested from 1752; as "ordinary people" (opposed to the great), it is attested from 1827. Little Neck clams (1884) are so called for Little Neck, Long Island, a "neck" of land on the island's North Shore. Little by little is from late 15c. (litylle be litille). Little green men "space aliens" is from 1950. Little black dress is from 1939.
At the beginning of summer, smart women who stay in town like to wear sheer "little black dresses." Because most "little black dresses" look alike, retailers struggle each year to find something which will make them seem new. ["Life," June 13, 1939]
Little Orphan Annie originally was (as Little Orphant Annie) the character in James Whitcomb Riley's 1885 poem, originally titled "Elf Child." The U.S. newspaper comic strip created by Harold Gray (1894-1968) debuted in 1924 in the New York "Daily News."
LITTLE Orphant Annie's come to our house to stay,
An' wash the cups an' saucers up, an' brush the crumbs away,
An' shoo the chickens off the porch, an' dust the hearth, an' sweep,
An' make the fire, an' bake the bread, an' earn her board-an'-keep;
An' all us other childern, when the supper-things is done,
We set around the kitchen fire an' has the mostest fun
A-list'nin' to the witch-tales 'at Annie tells about,
An' the Gobble-uns 'at gits you
[Riley, "Elf Child"]
- little (v.)
- OE lytlian, from root of little (adj.).
- littleness (n.)
- Old English lytelnes; see little + -ness.
- littoral (adj.)
- "pertaining to the seashore," 1650s, from Latin littoralis "of or belonging to the seashore," from litus (genitive litoris) "seashore" (compare Lido), of unknown origin, possibly from PIE root *lei- "to flow." The noun is first recorded 1828, from Italian littorale, originally an adjective, from Latin littoralis.
- liturgical (adj.)
- 1640s, from Late Latin liturgicus, from New Testament Greek leitourgikos "ministering," from leitourgos (see liturgy).
- liturgy (n.)
- 1550s, "the service of the Holy Eucharist," from Middle French liturgie or directly from Late Latin/Medieval Latin liturgia "public service, public worship," from Greek leitourgia "a liturgy; public duty, ministration, ministry," from leitourgos "one who performs a public ceremony or service, public servant," from leito- "public" (from laos "people;" compare leiton "public hall," leite "priestess;" see lay (adj.)) + -ergos "that works," from ergon "work" (see organ). Meaning "collective formulas for the conduct of divine service in Christian churches" is from 1590s.
- Litvak (n.)
- "Jew from Lithuania," 1892, from Polish Litwak "Lithuanian Jew," originally simply "man from Lithuania."
- livable (adj.)
- also liveable, 1610s, "likely to survive," from live (v.) + -able. Meaning "conducive to living" is from 1660s; sense of "suitable for living in" is from 1814 ("Mansfield Park"). Meaning "endurable" is from 1841.
- live (v.)
- Old English lifian (Anglian), libban (West Saxon) "to be, to live, have life; to experience," also "to supply oneself with food, to pass life (in some condition)," from Proto-Germanic *liben (source also of Old Norse lifa "to live, remain," Old Frisian libba, German leben, Gothic liban "to live"), from PIE root *leip- "to remain, continue" (source also of Greek liparein "to persist, persevere;" see leave). Meaning "to make a residence, dwell" is from c. 1200. Related: Lived; living.
According to the Dutch Prouerbe ... Leuen ende laetan leuen, To liue and to let others liue. [Malynes, 1622]To live it up "live gaily and extravagantly" is from 1903. To live up to "act in accordance with" is 1690s, from earlier live up "live on a high (moral or mental) level" (1680s). To live (something) down "outwear (some slander or embarrassment)" is from 1842. To live with "cohabit as husband and wife" is attested from 1749; sense of "to put up with" is attested from 1937. Expression live and learn is attested from c. 1620.
- live (adj.)
- 1540s, "having life," later (1610s) "burning, glowing," a shortening of alive (q.v.). Sense of "containing unspent energy or power" (live ammunition, etc.) is from 1799. Meaning "in-person" (of performance) is first attested 1934. Live wire is attested from 1890; figurative sense of "active person" is from 1903.
- live-in (adj.)
- "residing on the premises," 1950, from live (v.) + in. Lived-in "inhabited, occupied" is first recorded 1873.
- livelihood (n.)
- 1610s, alteration of livelode "means of keeping alive" (c. 1300), from Old English lifad "course of life," from lif "life" + lad "way, course" (see load). Similar formation in Old High German libleita. Spelling assimilated to words in -hood. Earlier livelihood was a different word, meaning "liveliness," from lively.
- livelily (adv.)
- 1550s, from lively + -ly (2).
- livelong (adj.)
- also live-long, c. 1400, lefe longe (day), from leve, lief "dear" (see lief), used here as an emotional intensive + long (adj). From late 16c. conformed in spelling to live (v.) as lief grew strange. German has cognate die liebe lange Nacht, literally "the dear long night."
- lively (adj.)
- Old English liflic "living, existing," literally "life-like;" from life + -ly (2). Sense of "active, energetic" developed by early 13c., from notion "full of life."
- liven (v.)
- 1884, colloquial shortening of 17c. enliven, usually with up. Related: Livened; livening.
- liver (n.1)
- secreting organ of the body, Old English lifer, from Proto-Germanic *librn (source also of Old Norse lifr, Old Frisian livere, Middle Dutch levere, Dutch lever, Old High German lebara, German Leber "liver"), perhaps from PIE *leip- "to stick adhere; fat." Formerly believed to be the body's blood-producing organ; in medieval times it rivaled the heart as the supposed seat of love and passion, hence lily-livered. Liver-spots, once thought to be caused by a dysfunction of the organ, is attested from 1730.
- liver (n.2)
- "one who lives (in a particular way)," late 14c., agent noun from live (v.).
- English city on the River Mersey, Liuerpul (c.1190) "Pool with Muddy Water," from Old English lifer "thick, clotted water" + pol (see pool (n.1)). "The original reference was to a pool or tidal creek now filled up into which two streams drained" [Victor Watts, "Cambridge Dictionary of English Place-Names," 2004]. The adjective and noun Liverpudlian (with jocular substitution of puddle for pool) is attested from 1833.
- liverwort (n.)
- late Old English lifenwyrt, from lifer (see liver (n.1)) + wyrt (see wort). A loan-translation of Medieval Latin hepatica. Applied to various plants with liver-shaped leaves or that were used to treat liver disorders. Similar formation in German leberkraut.
- liverwurst (n.)
- 1869, American English, partial translation of German Leberwurst, from Leber "liver" (see liver (n.1)) + Wurst "sausage" (see wurst).
- livery (n.)
- c. 1300, "household allowance of any kind (food, provisions, clothing) to retainers or servants," from Anglo-French livere (late 13c.), Old French livrée, "allowance, ration, pay," originally "(clothes) delivered by a master to his retinue," from fem. past participle of livrer "to dispense, deliver, hand over," from Latin liberare (see liberate). The sense later was reduced to "servants' rations" and "provender for horses" (mid-15c.). The former led to the meaning "distinctive clothing given to servants" (early 14c.); the latter now is obsolete except in livery stable (1705). Related: Liveried.
- livestock (n.)
- 1520s, from live (adj.) + stock (n.2).
- liveware (n.)
- "people," 1966, computer-programmer jargon, from live (adj.) + ending abstracted from software, etc.
- livid (adj.)
- early 15c., "of a bluish-leaden color," from Middle French livide and directly from Latin lividus "of a bluish color, black and blue," figuratively "envious, spiteful, malicious," from livere "be bluish," earlier *slivere, from PIE *sliwo-, suffixed form of root *(s)leie- "bluish" (source also of Old Church Slavonic and Russian sliva "plum;" Lithuanian slywas "plum;" Old Irish li, Welsh lliw "color, splendor," Old English sla "sloe"). The sense of "furiously angry" (1912) is from the notion of being livid with rage.
- living (adj.)
- "alive," also "residing, staying," c. 1200, from present participle of live (v.)).
- living (n.)
- "living persons," late Old English; early 14c. as "the fact of dwelling in some place," from Old English lifiende "that lives or has life," present participle of lifan (see live (v.)). The meaning "action, process, or method of gaining one's livelihood" is attested from c. 1400.
- living room (n.)
- "room set up for ordinary social use," 1795 (as opposed to bedroom, dining room, etc.); from living (n.) + room (n.).
- livre (n.)
- former French money, 1550s, from French livre "pound," in Old French in both the weight and money senses, from Latin libra "pound (unit of weight);" see Libra. The monetary sense in Latin was in the derived libella "small silver coin." Equivalent to the 20c. franc, the livre was made up of 20 sous.
- lixiviate (v.)
- 1758, from past participle stem of Modern Latin lixiviare, from Latin lixivium, neuter of lixivius "made into lye," from lix "ashes, lye."
- lizard (n.)
- "an animal resembling a serpent, with legs added to it" [Johnson], late 14c., lusarde, from Anglo-French lusard, Old French laisarde "lizard" (Modern French lézard), from Latin lacertus (fem. lacerta) "lizard," of unknown origin, perhaps from PIE root *leq- "to bend, twist" [Klein].
- pet form of fem. proper name Elizabeth, used colloquially for "a motor car" (especially an early-model Ford) from 1913; also tin lizzie.
- llama (n.)
- woolly-haired South American ruminant, c. 1600, from Spanish llama (1535), from Quechua (Peru) llama.
- common in Welsh place names, literally "St. Mary's Church," from Welsh llan "church" (see land (n.)) + Mair "Mary," with lentition of m- to f-.
- llano (n.)
- 1610s, American Spanish, "prairie," from Spanish llano "plain, even, level, smooth," ultimately from Latin planum "plain," from planus "smooth" (see plane (n.1)). Hence, llanero "a Latin-American cowboy" (1819), literally "plainsman."
- abbreviation of Limited Liability Company (see limited).
- male proper name, from Welsh Llywelin, often explained as "lion-like," but probably from llyw "leader."
- male proper name, from Welsh Llwyd, literally "gray," from PIE *pel- (2) "pale" (see pallor). Lloyd's, meaning the London-based association of marine underwriters, is first recorded as such 1805, from Lloyd's Coffee House, Tower Street, London, opened in 1688 by Edward Lloyd, who supplied shipping information to his patrons.
- by 1997, online abbreviation of laughing my ass off. Related: LMFAO (by 2000).
- lo (interj.)
- early 13c., from Old English la, exclamation of surprise, grief, or joy; influenced in Middle English by lo!, short for lok "look!" imperative of loken "to look" (see look (v.)). Expression lo and behold attested by 1779.
- loach (n.)
- small edible European fish, mid-14c., from Old French loche (13c.), also, in dialect, "slug," of unknown origin (see discussion in Gamillscheg).
- load (n.)
- "that which is laid upon a person or beast, burden," c. 1200, from Old English lad "way, course, carrying," from Proto-Germanic *laitho (source also of Old High German leita, German leite, Old Norse leið "way, course"); related to Old English lædan "to guide," from PIE *leit- (2) "to go forth" (see lead (v.1)). Sense shifted 13c. to supplant words based on lade, to which it is not etymologically connected; original association with "guide" is preserved in lodestone. Meaning "amount customarily loaded at one time" is from c. 1300.
Figurative sense of "burden weighing on the mind, heart, or soul" is first attested 1590s. Meaning "amount of work" is from 1946. Colloquial loads "lots, heaps" is attested from c. 1600. Phrase take a load off (one's) feet "sit down, relax" is from 1914, American English. Get a load of "take a look at" is American English colloquial, attested from 1929.