- litigate (v.)
- 1610s (intransitive), from Latin litigatus, past participle of litigare "to dispute, carry on a suit" (see litigation). Transitive sense is from 1741. Related: Litigated; litigating.
- litigation (n.)
- "act of carrying on a lawsuit," 1640s, from Late Latin litigationem (nominative litigatio), noun of action from past participle stem of Latin litigare "to dispute, quarrel; sue, go to court," from phrase litem agere "to drive a suit," from litem (nominative lis) "lawsuit, dispute, quarrel, strife" + agere "to set in motion, drive forward" (see act (n.)). The word was earlier in English in a now obsolete sense "disputation" (1560s). Other legal terms in English from Latin lis included litiscontestation (15c.), litispendence (17c.).
- litigator (n.)
- 1880, "one who files lawsuits;" 1882, "one who argues lawsuits," agent noun from Latin litigare "to dispute, quarrel; go to court, litigate" (see litigation). Latin litigator meant "a party to a lawsuit; litigant;" it was translated in Old English as flitgern, flit-georn "one desirous of contention, a quarreler."
- litigious (adj.)
- "fond of engaging in lawsuits," 1620s, from Middle French litigieux and directly from Latin litigiosus "contentious, quarrelsome," from litigium "dispute, strife," from litigare "to dispute, quarrel; sue, go to court" (see litigation). The word was in Middle English with a now-obsolete sense "fond of disputes" (late 14c.), making it senior in English to litigate or litigation. Related: Litigiousness; litigiosity.
- litmus (n.)
- "blue dye-stuff obtained from certain lichens," early 14c., lit-mose, probably from an Old Norse word related to Norwegian dialectal litmose, from Old Norse lita "to dye, to stain" (from litr "color, dye;" see lit (n.1)) + mos "moss." Said to be also in part from Middle Dutch lijkmoes (Dutch lakmoes), from lac (see lac) + moes "pulp." Another idea [Watkins] connects the first element to Middle Dutch leken "to drip, leak" (see leak (v.)). The second element is in any case the common Germanic word for "moss, lichen" (see moss).
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 contrary ("no laughing matter"), from Greek litotes "plainness, simplicity," from litos "smooth, plain," also "frugal, small, meager," and, of style, "simple, unadorned," from PIE root *(s)lei- "slimy, sticky, slippery" (hence "smooth"); see slime (n.).
- litre (n.)
- chiefly British English spelling of liter; for spelling, see -re.
- 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" (12c.), from Medieval Latin lectaria "litter," from Latin lectus "bed, lounge, sofa, dining-couch," from PIE *legh-to-, suffixed form of root *legh- "to lie" (see lie (v.2)).
Altered in French by influence of lit "bed." The meaning was extended early 15c. to "straw used for bedding" (this sense is early 14c. in Anglo-French) and by late 15c. to "offspring of an animal at one birth" (that is, in one bed). Litter by 19c. had come to mean both the straw bedding and the animal waste in it after use. The sense of "scattered oddments, disorderly debris" is first attested 1730 and probably is from litter (v.) "provide with bedding" (late 14c.) and sense extended from the image of strewing straw.
- litter (v.)
- late 14c., "provide with bedding," from litter (n.). Meaning "bring forth, give birth to" (of animals or, contemptuously, of humans) is from late 15c. 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, one whose profession is literature," 1806, from French littérateur, from Latin litterator "a grammarian, philologist," from littera "letter; writing" (see letter (n.1)). Sometimes Englished as literator (1630s), but often with a deprecatory sense. O.W. Holmes used the French fem. form littératrice (1857).
- 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 disordered waste matter" is from 1900.
- little (adj.)
- Old English lytel "not large, not much, small in size or number; short in distance or time; unimportant,"
from Proto-Germanic *lutilla- (source also of Old Saxon luttil, Dutch luttel, Old High German luzzil, German lützel "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]. Now with less, least, but formerly and in dialect littler, littlest. In terms of endearment from 1560s. Meaning "younger" (of a brother, sister, etc.) is from 1610s. As an adverb, Old English lytel.
Little while "a short time" is from 12c. 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) from 1827. Little death "orgasm" (1932) translates French petite mort. Little Neck clams (1884) are so called for Little Neck, a "neck" of land on Long Island's North Shore, where they first came into favor. Little green men "space aliens" is from 1950. Little boys' room (or girls') as a euphemism for "lavatory" is from 1957. Little breeches for "boy" is by 1785. 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 (v.)
- Old English lytlian "to lessen, decrease, become little or less, diminish; shorten; fall out of use; belittle," from root of little (adj.).
- little (n.)
- late Old English, "small piece, small quantity or amount; a short time; unimportant persons," from little (adj.). Little by little is from late 15c. (litylle be litille). Old English also had lytling "little one, infant child; unimportant person."
- littleness (n.)
- Old English lytelnes; see little (adj.) + -ness.
- littlish (adj.)
- 1850, from little (adj.) + -ish.
- littoral (adj.)
- "pertaining to the seashore," 1650s, from Latin littoralis "of or belonging to the seashore," from litus (genitive litoris) "seashore, coast, seaside, beach, strand," from Proto-Italic *leitos, a word of unknown origin, possibly from PIE root *lei- "to flow" [Watkins], but de Vaan finds a better candidate in the PIE root *leit- (2) "to go forth" (see lead (v.1)), with sense evolution "the going away," hence "the edge."
The noun meaning "part of a country lying along the coast" is from 1828, from Italian littorale, originally an adjective, from Latin littoralis. Compare Lido.
- liturgical (adj.)
- "of or pertaining to a liturgy," in a wider sense, "pertaining to worship or religious ceremonies," 1640s, from Late Latin liturgicus, from New Testament Greek leitourgikos "ministering," from leitourgos (see liturgy).
- liturgy (n.)
- 1550s, Liturgy, "the service of the Holy Eucharist," from Middle French liturgie (16c.) 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. Related: Liturgist; liturgics.
In ancient Greece, particularly at Athens, a form of personal service to the state which citizens possessing property to a certain amount were bound, when called upon, to perform at their own cost. These liturgies were ordinary, including the presentation of dramatic performances, musical and poetic contests, etc., the celebration of some festivals, and other public functions entailing expense upon the incumbent; or extraordinary, as the fitting out of a trireme In case of war. [Century Dictionary]
- Litvak (n.)
- "Jew from Lithuania," 1892, from Polish Litwak "Lithuanian Jew," originally simply "man from Lithuania," from Lithuanian Lietuva (see Lithuania).
- livable (adj.)
- also liveable, "suitable for living in," 1814 ("Mansfield Park"), from live (v.) + -able. Attested earlier in a now-obsolete sense "likely to survive" (1610s).
- live (v.)
- Middle English, from Old English lifian (Anglian), libban (West Saxon) "to be, be alive, have life; continue in life; to experience," also "to supply oneself with food, procure a means of subsistence; pass life in a specified fashion," from Proto-Germanic *liben (source also of Old Norse lifa "to be left; to live; to live on," of fire, "to burn;" 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 (v.)).
Meaning "to make a residence, dwell" is from c. 1200. Meaning "express in one's life" (live a lie) is from 1540s. Intensified sense "have life abundantly, make full use of life's opportunities" is from c. 1600. Related: Lived; living. To live it up "live gaily and extravagantly" is from 1903. To live up to "act in accordance with, not live below the standard of" is 1690s, from earlier live up "live on a high (moral or mental) level" (1680s). To live (something) down "cause (something disreputable) to be forgotten by subsequent blameless course, live so as to disprove" 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.
According to the Dutch Prouerbe ... Leuen ende laetan leuen, To liue and to let others liue. [Gerard de Malynes, 1622]
- live (adj.)
- 1540s, "having life, not dead," a shortening of alive (q.v.). From 1610s of fire, coal, etc., "burning, glowing;" 1640s of things, conditions, etc., "full of active power;" sense of "containing unspent energy or power" (live ammunition) is from 1799. Meaning "in-person, not recorded" (of performance) is first attested 1934. Live wire is attested from 1890, "circuit through which an electric current is flowing;" figurative sense of "active person" is from 1903. Jocular real live "genuine" is from 1887. The older adjective is lively.
A GRIM RECORD -- The death harvest of the "live wire" and "third rail" goes right on. It is not governed by seasons nor, qualified by time. It is the ubiquitous epidemic of electricity, defiant of doctors and ruthless as fate. ["The Insurance Press," Aug. 22, 1900]
- live-in (adj.)
- "residing on the premises," 1950, from live (v.) + in (adv.). To live out was formerly "be away from home in domestic service."
- live-oak (n.)
- evergreen oak tree of the U.S. South, c. 1600, from live (adj.) + oak (n.).
- lived-in (adj.)
- "inhabited, occupied" (sometimes with suggestion of "shabby, disorderly"), 1873, from verbal phrase; see live (v.) + in (adv.).
- livelihood (n.)
- 1610s, alteration of livelode "means of keeping alive" (c. 1300), from Old English liflad "course of life," from lif "life" (see life) + lad "way, course" (see load (n.)). Similar formation in Old High German libleita "provisions." Spelling assimilated to words in -hood. Earlier livelihood was a different word, meaning "liveliness," from lively.
- livelily (adv.)
- "in a lively way," 1550s, from lively + -ly (2).
- livelong (adj.)
- also live-long, of a period of time, "long, whole" c. 1400, lefe longe (day or night), from leve, lief "dear" (see lief), used here as an emotional intensive + long (adj.). From late 16c. conformed in spelling and pronunciation to live (v.) as lief grew strange. German has cognate die liebe lange (Nacht), etc., literally "the dear long (night)."
- lively (adj.)
- Old English liflic "living, existing," literally "life-like;" from life + -ly (2). The main modern sense of "active, energetic" developed by early 13c., from notion "full of life." For "full of life, vigorous," Old English had liffæst. The adverb is Old English liflice "vitally," from the adjective. Related: Liveliness.
- liven (v.)
- "put life into," 1884, colloquial shortening of enliven (q.v.), usually with up (adv.). 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" (see leave (v.)).
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, a white (that is, bloodless) liver being supposed a sign of cowardice, Shakespeare's pigeon-livered, etc. 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.).
- liveried (adj.)
- 1630s, from livery (n.) in the sense "distinctive clothing given to servants."
- English city on the River Mersey, c.1190, Liuerpul "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 liferwyrt, 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.)
- also liver-wurst, 1852, partial translation of German Leberwurst "liver-sausage," 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 liveree, Modern 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 "to set free" (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, unless livery stable (1705) survives. Related: Liveried.
- livestock (n.)
- "domestic animals kept for use or profit," 1520s, from live (adj.) + stock (n.2). Also, in old slang, "fleas, lice, etc." (1785).
- liveware (n.)
- "people," 1966, computer-programmer jargon, from live (adj.) + ending abstracted from software, etc. Compare old nautical slang live lumber "landsmen on board a ship" (1785).
- livid (adj.)
- early 15c., "of a bluish-leaden color," from Old French livide (13c.) 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"). Somehow it has come to be associated with "pale, colorless." The sense of "furiously angry" (1912) is from the notion of being livid with rage.
- lividity (n.)
- early 15c., "bluish or leaden color," from Old French lividite and Medieval Latin lividitatem (nominative lividitas), noun of state from past participle stem of Latin livere "be bluish" (see livid).
- living (adj.)
- c. 1200, "alive, not dead," also "residing, staying," present-participle adjective from live (v.)). Replaced Old English lifende "living, having life." Of water, "constantly flowing," late 14c., a biblical idiom. Of rock, stone, etc., "in its original state and place," from Latin use of vivus in reference to unwrought stone. Living dead was used from early 18c. in various figurative senses ("those who though dead live in their writings," etc.), from 1919 in reference to those who have died and been revived. From 1971 in reference to zombies, vampires, etc.
- living (n.)
- "living persons," late Old English; early 14c. as "the fact of dwelling in some place," verbal noun from live (v.). The meaning "manner of course or living" is mid-14c.; that of "action, process, or method of gaining one's livelihood" is attested from c. 1400.
To make a living or a livelihood is to earn enough to keep alive on with economy, not barely enough to maintain life, nor sufficient to live in luxury. [Century Dictionary]
- living room (n.)
- "room set up for ordinary family or social use, sitting-room," 1795 (as opposed to bedroom, dining room, etc.); from living (n.) + room (n.).
- livingness (n.)
- "quality of being alive," 1680s, from living (adj.) + -ness.
- former name of the region around northern Latvia and southern Estonia, also a former Baltic province of Russia, Modern Latin, ultimately from Estonian liiv "sand." Related: Livonian (1650s). The native name in English was Livland.
- livre (n.)
- former French money, 1550s, from French livre "pound," in Old French in both the weight and money senses (10c.), from Latin libra "pound (unit of weight);" see Libra. The monetary sense in Latin was in the derived word libella "small silver coin." Superseded by the franc.
- lixiviate (v.)
- "form into lye," 1758, from past participle stem of Modern Latin lixiviare, from Latin lixivium, neuter of lixivius "made into lye," from lix "ashes, lye," from PIE root *wleik- "to flow, run" (see liquid (adj.)). Related: Lixivial (1640s); lixivation (1717, earlier in French).