- latch (n.)
- a fastening for a door, etc., late 13c., probably from latch (v.).
- latchkey (n.)
- also latch-key, 1825, a key to draw back the latch of a door, from latch (n.) + key (n.1). Latchkey child first recorded 1944, American English, in reference to children who come home from school while both parents are at work.
Many elementary school principals and teachers have always known the "latchkey" child or the "eight-hour orphan." [New York State Teachers Association, "New York State Education," 1944]
- late (adj.)
- Old English læt "occurring after the customary or expected time," originally "slow, sluggish," from Proto-Germanic *lata- (cognates: Old Norse latr "sluggish, lazy," Middle Dutch, Old Saxon lat, German laß "idle, weary," Gothic lats "weary, sluggish, lazy," latjan "to hinder"), from PIE *led- "slow, weary" (cognates: Latin lassus "faint, weary, languid, exhausted," Greek ledein "to be weary"), from root *le- "to let go, slacken" (see let (v.)).
The sense of "deceased" (as in the late Mrs. Smith) is from late 15c., from an adverbial sense of "recently." Of women's menstrual periods, attested colloquially from 1962. Related: Lateness. As an adverb, from Old English late.
- mid-18c., phonetic spelling of French latine in voile latine, literally "Latin sail" (see Latin). So called because it was used in the Mediterranean.
- lately (adv.)
- Old English lætlice "slow, sluggish;" see late (adj.) + -ly (2). Meaning "within recent times" is from late 15c., probably a new formation.
- latency (n.)
- 1630s, "condition of being concealed," from latent + -cy. Meaning "delay between stimulus and response" is from 1882; computer sense (latency time) is from 1954.
- latent (adj.)
- mid-15c., "concealed, secret," from Latin latentem (nominative latens) "lying hid, secret, unknown," present participle of latere "to lie hidden," from PIE *laidh-, from root *la- "to be hidden" (cognates: Greek lethe "forgetfulness, oblivion," Old Church Slavonic lajati "to lie in wait for"). Meaning "dormant" is from 1680s.
- comparative of late. Meaning "farewell" is from 1954, U.S. colloquial, short for (I'll) see you later.
- lateral (adj.)
- early 15c., from Middle French latéral and directly from Latin lateralis "belonging to the side," from latus (genitive lateris) "side" (see oblate (n.)). As a noun, from 1630s, "a side part." As a type of pass to the side in U.S. football, it is attested from 1934. Related: Laterally.
- c. 1300, popular name of cathedral church of St. John Lateran at Rome, which is built on the site of the palace of the Plautii Laterani, a Roman family. As a papal headquarters, it was the site of five general councils of the Western Church.
- latescent (adj.)
- "tending to become latent," 1836, from Latin latescentem (nominative latescens), present participle of latescere "to hide oneself, be hidden," inchoative of latere (see latent).
- latest (adj.)
- superlative of late. The latest "the news" attested from 1886.
- latex (n.)
- 1660s, "body fluid," from Latin latex (genitive laticis) "liquid, fluid," probably from Greek latax "dregs," from PIE root *lat- "wet" (cognates: Middle Irish laith "beer," Welsh llaid "mud, mire," Lithuanian latakas "pool, puddle," Old Norse leþja "filth"). Used 1835 to mean "milky liquid from plants." Meaning "water-dispersed polymer particles" (used in rubber goods, paints, etc.) is from 1937. As an adjective by 1954, in place of clasically correct laticiferous.
- lath (n.)
- late 13c., probably from Old English *læððe, variant of lætt "lath," apparently from a Proto-Germanic *laþþo (cognates: Old Saxon, Old Norse latta, Middle Dutch, German latte "lath," Dutch lat, Middle High German lade "plank," which is source of German Laden "counter," hence, "shop"). As a verb, 1530s, from the noun.
- lathe (n.)
- "machine for turning," early 14c., of uncertain origin, probably from a Scandinavian source (compare Danish drejelad "turning-lathe," Old Norse hlaða "pile of shavings under a lathe," related to hlaða "to load, lade;" see lade (v.)).
- lather (n.)
- Old English lauþr "foam, washing soda," from Proto-Germanic *lauthran (cognates: Old Norse lauðr "washing soap, foam"), from PIE *loutro- (cognates: Gaulish lautron, Old Irish loathar "bathing tub," Greek louein "to bathe," Latin lavere "to wash"), which is from root *leu(e)- "to wash" + instrumentative suffix *-tro-. The modern noun might be a 16c. redevelopment from the verb. Meaning "violent perspiration" (especially of horses) is from 1650s. Meaning "state of agitation" (such as induces sweating) is from 1839.
- lather (v.)
- Old English laþran, from Proto-Germanic *lauthrjan (source also of Old Norse leyðra "to clean, wash;" see lather (n.)). Related: Lathered; lathering.
- Latin (adj.)
- Old English latin, from Latin Latinus "belonging to Latium," the region of Italy around Rome, possibly from PIE root *stela- "to spread, extend," with a sense of "flat country" (as opposed to the mountainous district of the Sabines), or from a prehistoric non-IE language. The Latin adjective also was used of the Roman language and people.
Centurion: What's this, then? "People called Romanes they go the house?"
Used as a designation for "people whose languages descend from Latin" (1856), hence Latin America (1862). The Latin Quarter (French Quartier latin) of Paris, on the south (left) bank of the Seine, was the site of university buildings in the Middle Ages, hence the place where Latin was spoken. The surname Latimer, Lattimore, etc. is from Vulgar Latin latimarus, from Latin latinarius "interpreter," literally "a speaker of Latin." "What Latin was to the learned, that their tongue was to laymen; hence latino was used for any dialect, even Arabic and the language of birds ...." [Donkin, "Etymological Dictionary of the Romance Languages," 1864].
Brian: It ... it says, "Romans, go home."
Centurion [thrashing him like a schoolboy]: No, it doesn't. 'Go home?' This is motion towards. Isn't it, boy?
Brian: Ah ... ah, dative, sir! Ahh! No, not dative! Not the dative, sir! No! Ah! Oh, the ... accusative! Domum, sir! Ah! Oooh! Ah!
Centurion [pulling him by the ear]: Except that domum takes the ...?
Brian: The locative, sir!
[Monty Python, "Life of Brian"]
- Latin (n.)
- "the language of the (ancient) Romans," Old English latin, from Latin latinium (see Latin (adj.)). The more common form in Old English was læden, from Vulgar Latin *ladinum, probably influenced by Old English leoden "language."
- Latin America
- 1862; see Latin (adj.). Related: Latin American (adj.), 1871.
- "male Latin inhabitant of the United States" (fem. Latina), 1946, American English, from American Spanish, shortening of Latinoamericano "Latin-American" (see Latin America). As an adjective, attested from 1974.
- prefix in use from 1939; see Latino.
- latitude (n.)
- late 14c., "breadth," from Old French latitude (13c.) and directly from Latin latitudo "breadth, width, extent, size," from latus "wide," from PIE root *stele- "to spread" (cognates: Old Church Slavonic steljo "to spread out," Armenian lain "broad"). Geographical sense also is from late 14c., literally "breadth" of a map of the known world. Figurative sense of "allowable degree of variation" is early 15c. Related: Latitudinal.
- latitudinarian (adj.)
- 1660s, "characterized by broad-mindedness," especially in reference to Episcopal clergymen indifferent to doctrinal details; from Latin latitudin-, from latitude in its meaning "freedom from narrow restrictions" (c. 1600). Related: Latitudinarianism.
- latke (n.)
- "pancake made with grated potatoes," 1927, from Yiddish, from Russian latka "pastry," said to mean literally "a patch," but by Watkins traced to Greek elaia "olive."
- latrine (n.)
- c. 1300, probably from Latin latrina, contraction of lavatrina "washbasin, washroom," from lavatus, past participle of lavare "to wash" (see lave) + -trina, suffix denoting "workplace." Its reappearance in 1640s is probably a re-borrowing from French; especially of a privy of a camp, barracks, college, hospital, etc. Latrine rumor "baseless gossip" (of the kind that spreads in conversations in latrines) is military slang, first recorded 1918.
- latte (n.)
- by 1990, espresso coffee with milk, short for caffè latte, from Italian, literally "milk coffee" (see cafe au lait).
- latter (adj.)
- Old English lætra "slower," comparative of læt "late" (see late (adj.)). Sense of "second of two" first recorded 1550s. The modern later is a formation from mid-15c.
- 1734, from latter + -ly (2). Called by Johnson "a low word lately hatched." Related: Lattermost.
- lattice (n.)
- c. 1300, from Old French latiz "lattice," from late "lath, board, plank, batten" (Modern French latte), from Frankish or some other Germanic source, such as Old High German latta "lath;" see lath).
- latticework (n.)
- also lattice-work, late 15c., from lattice + work (n.).
- Baltic nation, independent from 1918, named for its inhabitants, Latvian Latvji, whose ancient name is of unknown origin. In English, the people name was Lett. Parts of the modern state were known previously as Livonia (from Estonian liiv "sand") and Courland (from Curonians, name of a Lettish people, of unknown origin).
- laud (v.)
- late 14c., from Old French lauder "praise, extol," from Latin laudare "to praise, commend, honor, extol, eulogize," from laus (genitive laudis) "praise, fame glory." Probably cognate with Old English leoð "song, poem, hymn," from Proto-Germanic *leuthan (cognates: Old Norse ljoð "strophe," German Lied "song," Gothic liuþon "to praise"), and from an echoic PIE root *leu-. Related: Lauded; lauding.
- laudable (adj.)
- early 15c., from Old French laudable and directly from Latin laudabilis "praiseworthy," from laudare (see laud). Related: Laudably.
- laudanum (n.)
- c. 1600, from Modern Latin laudanum (1540s), coined by Paracelsus for a medicine he mixed, supposed to contain gold and crushed pearls and many expensive ingredients, but probably owing its effectiveness to only one of them, opium. Perhaps from Latin laudare "to praise," or from Latin ladanum "a gum resin," from Greek ladanon, a word perhaps of Semitic origin. The word soon came to be used for "any alcoholic tincture of opium." Latin ladanum was used in Middle English of plant resins, but this is not regarded as the source of the 16c. word.
- laudation (n.)
- late 15c., from Latin laudationem (nominative laudatio) "a praising, commendation," noun of action from past participle stem of laudare "to praise" (see laud).
- laudator temporis acti
- Latin phrase, 1736, from Horace's laudator temporis acti se puero "a praiser of times past when he was a boy" [Ars Poetica, 173].
- laudatory (adj.)
- 1550s, from Middle French laudatoire and directly from Late Latin laudatorius, from Latin laudare (see laud).
- lauds (n.)
- mid-14c., from Old French; morning Church service in which psalms of praise to God (Psalms 148-150) are sung (see laud).
- laugh (v.)
- late 14c., from Old English (Anglian) hlæhhan, earlier hlihhan, from Proto-Germanic *klakhjan (cognates: Old Norse hlæja, Danish le, Old Frisian hlakkia, Old Saxon hlahhian, Middle Dutch and Dutch lachen, Old High German hlahhan, German lachen, Gothic hlahjan), from PIE *kleg-, of imitative origin (compare Latin cachinnare "to laugh aloud," Sanskrit kakhati "laughs," Old Church Slavonic chochotati "laugh," Lithuanian klageti "to cackle," Greek kakhazein). Originally with a "hard" -gh- sound, as in Scottish loch; the spelling remained after the pronunciation shifted to "-f."
If I coveted nowe to avenge the injuries that you have done me, I myght laughe in my slyve. [John Daus, "Sleidanes Commentaries," 1560]
Related: Laughed; laughing.
- laugh (n.)
- 1680s, from laugh (v.). Meaning "a cause of laughter" is from 1895; ironic use (as in that's a laugh) attested from 1930. Laugh track "canned laughter on a TV program" is from 1961.
- laughable (adj.)
- 1590s, from laugh (v.) + -able. Related: Laughably.
- laughing (n.)
- mid-14c., verbal noun from laugh (v.). Laughing matter (usually with negative) is from 1560s. Nitrous oxide has been called laughing gas since 1842 (for its exhilarating effects). Davy, experimenting with the gas, discovered these as far back as 1779: "When I took the bag from my mouth, I immediately laughed. The laughter was involuntary, but highly pleasurable, accompanied by a thrill all through me."
- laughing-stock (n.)
- also laughingstock; 1510s, formed by analogy with whipping-stock "whipping post," later also "object of frequent whipping" (but that word is not attested in writing in this sense until 1670s). See laughing + stock (n.1). Also in the same sense was jesting-stock (1530s), and compare gaping-stock "person or thing regarded as an object of wonder." A Latin word for it was irridiculum.
- Gaelic Lachlann, earlier Lochlann, literally "lake-" or "fjord-land," i.e. "Scandinavia;" as a name, denoting "one from Norway."
- laughter (n.)
- late 14c., from Old English hleahtor, from Proto-Germanic *hlahtraz (cognates: Old Norse hlatr, Danish latter, Old High German lahtar, German Gelächter); see laugh (v.).
- launch (v.)
- c. 1300, "to rush, plunge, leap, start forth; to be set into sudden motion," from Old North French lancher (Old French lancier) "to fling, hurl, throw, cast," from Late Latin lanceare "wield a lance," from Latin lancea "light spear" (see lance (n.)). Sense of "set (a boat) afloat" first recorded c. 1400, from notion of throwing it out on the water; generalized by 1600 to any sort of beginning. The noun meaning "a leap or a bound" is from mid-15c., from the verb. Meaning "the liftoff of a missile, spacecraft, etc." is from 1935. Launch pad attested from 1960.
- launch (n.)
- "large boat carried on a warship," 1690s, from Portuguese lancha "barge, launch," apparently from Malay lancharan, from lanchar "quick, agile;" English spelling influenced by launch (v.).
- launder (v.)
- 1660s, "to wash linen," from noun launder "one who washes" (especially linen), mid-15c., a contraction of lavender, from Old French lavandier "washer, launderer," from Medieval Latin lavandaria "a washer," ultimately from Latin lavare "to wash" (see lave). Criminal banking sense first recorded 1961, from notion of making dirty money seem clean; brought to widespread use during U.S. Watergate scandal, 1973. Related: Laundered; laundering.
- laundress (n.)
- 1540s; see laundry + -ess.