laxative (adj.)
late 14c., from Old French laxatif (13c.), from Medieval Latin laxativus "loosening," from Latin laxatus, past participle of laxare "loosen," from laxus "loose, lax" (see lax). The noun meaning "a laxative medicine" is from late 14c.
laxity (n.)
1520s, from Middle French laxité, from Latin laxitatem (nominative laxitas) "width, spaciousness," from laxus (see lax).
lay (v.)
Old English lecgan "to place on the ground (or other surface)," also "put down (often by striking)," from Proto-Germanic *lagjan (cognates: Old Saxon leggian, Old Norse leggja, Old Frisian ledza, Middle Dutch legghan, Dutch leggen, Old High German lecken, German legen, Gothic lagjan "to lay, put, place"), causative of lie (v.2). As a noun, from 1550s, "act of laying." Meaning "way in which something is laid" (as in lay of the land) first recorded 1819.

Meaning "have sex with" first recorded 1934, in U.S. slang, probably from sense of "deposit" (which was in Old English, as in lay an egg, lay a bet, etc.), perhaps reinforced by to lie with, a phrase frequently met in the Bible. The noun meaning "woman available for sexual intercourse" is attested from 1930, but there are suggestions of it in stage puns from as far back as 1767. To lay for (someone) "await a chance at revenge" is from late 15c.; lay low "stay inconspicuous" is from 1839. To lay (someone) low preserves the secondary Old English sense.
lay (adj.)
"uneducated; non-clerical," early 14c., from Old French lai "secular, not of the clergy" (Modern French laïque), from Late Latin laicus, from Greek laikos "of the people," from laos "people," of unknown origin. In Middle English, contrasted with learned, a sense revived 1810 for "non-expert."
lay (n.)
"short song," mid-13c., from Old French lai "song, lyric," of unknown origin, perhaps from Celtic (compare Irish laid "song, poem," Gaelic laoidh "poem, verse, play") because the earliest verses so called were Arthurian ballads, but OED finds this "out of the question" and prefers a theory which traces it to a Germanic source, such as Old High German leich "play, melody, song."
layabout (n.)
"habitual loafer," 1932, from lay (v.) + about. One who "lays about" the house, etc.
layaway
1961, as a system of payments for merchandise, from lay (v.) + away. Earlier in the same sense was Australian lay-by (1930).
layer (n.)
late 14c., "one who or that lays" (especially stones, "a mason"), agent noun from lay (v.). Passive sense of "that which is laid over a surface" first recorded 1610s, but because earliest English use was in cookery, this is perhaps from French liue "binding," used of a thickened sauce. Layer cake attested from 1881.
layer (v.)
1832, from layer (n.). Related: Layered; layering.
layette (n.)
"baby's outfit," 1839, from French layette, properly the box in which it comes, subsequently transferred to the linen, from Middle French layette "chest of drawers," from laie "drawer, box," from Middle Dutch laeye, related to lade, load (v.).
layman (n.)
"non-cleric," early 15c., from lay (adj.) + man (n.). Meaning "outsider, non-expert" (especially in regards to law or medicine) is from late 15c. Related: Laymen.
layoff (n.)
also lay-off, lay off; 1889, "rest, respite;" from lay (v.) + off. Via seasonal labor with periodic down time, it came to have a sense of "temporary release from employment," and by 1960s was being used somewhat euphemistically for permanent releases of masses of workers by employers. The verbal phrase lay off is attested from 1868 as "dismiss" (an employee); meaning "stop disturbing" is from 1908.
layout (n.)
also lay-out, "configuration, arrangement," 1852, from lay (v.) + out. Meaning "rough design of a printing job" is from 1910.
layover (n.)
also lay-over, "a stop overnight," 1873, from lay (v.) + over. Earlier as "a cloth laid over a table-cloth" (1777).
layperson (n.)
1972, gender-neutral version of layman.
layup (n.)
also lay-up, "temporary period out of work," 1927, from lay (v.) + up (adv.). Basketball shot so called from 1948.
laywoman (n.)
1520s, from lay (adj.) + woman; probably modeled on layman.
lazar (n.)
"filthy beggar, leper," c.1300, from Medieval Latin lazarus "leper," from the Biblical name (see Lazarus).
lazaretto (n.)
"house for reception of lepers and diseased poor persons," 1540s, from Italian lazareto "place set aside for performance of quarantine" (especially that of Venice, which received many ships from plague-infested districts in the East), from the Biblical proper name Lazarus. Meaning "building set apart for quarantine" is c.1600 in English. The word in Italian was perhaps influenced by the name of another hospital in Venice, that associated with the church of Santa Maria di Nazaret.
Lazarus
Biblical character (Luke xvi:20), the poor man covered in sores; his name was extended in medieval usage to "any poor and visibly diseased person" (compare lazar, mid-14c., "one deformed and nauseous with filthy and pestilential diseases" [Johnson]). The name is from a Greek rendition of Hebrew El'azar, literally "God has helped."
laze (v.)
1590s, back-formation from lazy. Related: Lazed; lazing.
lazily (adv.)
1580s, from lazy + -ly (2).
laziness (n.)
1570s, from lazy + -ness.
lazy (adj.)
1540s, laysy, of unknown origin. Replaced native slack, slothful, and idle as the main word expressing the notion of "averse to work." In 19c. thought to be from lay (v.) as tipsy from tip. Skeat is responsible for the prevailing modern view that it probably comes from Low German, from a source such as Middle Low German laisch "weak, feeble, tired," modern Low German läösig, early modern Dutch leuzig, all of which may go back to the PIE root *(s)leg- "slack." According to Weekley, the -z- sound disqualifies a connection with French lassé "tired" or German lassig "lazy, weary, tired." A supposed dialectal meaning "naught, bad," if it is the original sense, may tie the word to Old Norse lasenn "dilapidated," lasmøyrr "decrepit, fragile," root of Icelandic las-furða "ailing," las-leiki "ailment." Lazy Susan is from 1917.
lazybones (n.)
1590s, from lazy + plural of bone (n.).
LCD
1973, initialism (acronym) from liquid crystal display, which is attested from 1968.
lea (n.)
Old English leah "open field, meadow, piece of untilled ground," earlier læch, recorded in place names, from Proto-Germanic *laukhaz (cognates: Old High German loh "cluster of bushes," and probably also Flemish -loo, which forms the second element in Waterloo), from PIE *louquo- (cognates: Sanskrit lokah "open space," Latin lucus "grove," Lithuanian laukas "open field"), perhaps from or related to *leuk- "to shine, be bright" (see light (n.)).
leach (v.)
Old English leccan "to moisten, water, wet, irrigate," (see leak (v.)). The word disappears, then re-emerges late 18c. in a technological sense in reference to percolating liquids. Related: Leached; leaching.
leachate (n.)
1920, from leach + -ate (1).
lead (v.1)
"to guide," Old English lædan "cause to go with one, lead, guide, conduct, carry; sprout forth; bring forth, pass (one's life)," causative of liðan "to travel," from Proto-Germanic *laidjan (cognates: Old Saxon lithan, Old Norse liða "to go," Old High German ga-lidan "to travel," Gothic ga-leiþan "to go"), from PIE *leit- "to go forth."

Meaning "to be in first place" is from late 14c. Sense in card playing is from 1670s. Related: Led; leading. Lead-off "commencement, beginning" attested from 1879; lead-in "introduction, opening" is from 1928.
lead (n.1)
heavy metal, Old English lead, from West Germanic *loudhom (cognates: Old Frisian lad, Middle Dutch loot, Dutch lood "lead," German Lot "weight, plummet"). The name and the skill in using the metal seem to have been borrowed from the Celts (compare Old Irish luaide), probably from PIE root *plou(d)- "to flow."

Figurative of heaviness since at least early 14c. Black lead was an old name for "graphite," hence lead pencil (1680s) and the colloquial figurative phrase to have lead in one's pencil "be possessed of (especially male sexual) vigor," attested by 1902. Lead balloon "a failure," American English slang, attested by 1957 (as a type of something heavy that can be kept up only with effort, from 1904). Lead-footed "slow" is from 1896; opposite sense of "fast" emerged 1940s in trucker's jargon, from notion of a foot heavy on the gas pedal.
lead (n.2)
c.1300, "action of leading," from lead (v.1). Meaning "the front or leading place" is from 1560s. Johnson stigmatized it as "a low, despicable word." Sense in card-playing is from 1742; in theater, from 1831; in journalism, from 1912; in jazz bands, from 1934.
lead (v.2)
early 15c., "to make of lead," from lead (n.1). Meaning "to cover with lead" is from mid-15c. Related: Leaded (early 13c.); leading.
lead-up (n.)
1917, from lead (v.1) + up (adv.).
leaden (adj.)
"made of lead," Old English leaden, from lead (n.1) + -en (2). The figurative sense of "heavy, oppressive, dull" is attested by 1570s. Related: Leadenly; leadenness.
leader (n.)
Old English lædere "one who leads," agent noun from lædan (see lead (v.)). As a title for the head of an authoritarian state, from 1918 (translating führer, Duce, caudillo, etc.). Meaning "writing or statement meant to begin a discussion or debate" is late 13c.; in modern use often short for leading article (1807) "opinion piece in a British newspaper" (leader in this sense attested from 1837).
leaderless (adj.)
1590s, from leader (n.1) + -less. Related: Leaderlessly; leaderlessness.
leadership (n.)
1821, "position of a leader," from leader + -ship. Sense extended by late 19c. to "characteristics necessary to be a leader."
leading (n.1)
"lead work; lead covering or frame of lead," mid-15c., from lead (n.1).
leading (n.2)
mid-13c., "a bringing by force," from present participle of lead (v.1). Meaning "direction, guidance" is from late 14c. As an adjective, "directing, guiding."
leaf (n.)
Old English leaf "leaf of a plant; page of a book," from Proto-Germanic *laubaz (cognates: Old Saxon lof, Old Norse lauf, Old Frisian laf, Dutch loof, Old High German loub, German Laub "foliage, leaves," Gothic lauf), perhaps from PIE *leup- "to peel off, break off" (cognates: Lithuanian luobas, Old Church Slavonic lubu "bark, rind"). Extended 15c. to very thin sheets of metal (especially gold). Meaning "hinged flap on the side of a table" is from 1550s.
leaf (v.)
"to turn over (the pages of a book)," 1660s, from leaf (n.). The notion of a book page also is in the phrase to turn over a (new) leaf (1570s). Related: Leafed; leaved; leafing.
leafless (adj.)
1580s, from leaf (n.) + -less.
leaflet (n.)
1787 as a term in botany; 1867 as a term in printing and publication; diminutive of leaf (n.)
A newspaperman asked the British authorities for a copy of the leaflets distributed in Germany by British airplanes. According to the London Daily Herald, his request was refused with the following answer: "Copies are not given out, as they might fall into enemy hands." ["The Living Age" magazine, Sept. 1939-Feb. 1940]
leafy (adj.)
1550s, from leaf (n.) + -y (2). Related: Leafily; leafiness.
league (n.1)
"alliance," mid-15c., ligg, from Middle French ligue "confederacy, league" (15c.), from Italian lega, from legare "to tie, to bind," from Latin ligare "to bind" (see ligament). Originally among nations, subsequently extended to political associations (1846) and sports associations (1879). League of Nations first attested 1917 (created 1919).
league (n.2)
distance of about three miles, late 14c., ultimately from Late Latin leuga (source also of French lieue, Spanish legua, Italian lega), said by Roman writers to be from Gaulish. A vague measure (perhaps originally an hour's hike) never in official use in England, where it is recorded more often in poetic than in practical writing.
league (v.)
"to form a league," 1610s, from league (n.1). Related: Leagued; leaguing.
leak (v.)
"to let water in or out" [Johnson], late 14c., from Middle Dutch leken "to drip, to leak," or from Old Norse leka, both of them related to Old English leccan "to moisten" (which did not survive into Middle English), all from Proto-Germanic *lek- "deficiency" (cognates: Old High German lecchen "to become dry," German lechzen "to be parched with thirst"), from PIE root *leg- "to dribble, trickle." The figurative meaning "come to be known in spite of efforts at concealment" dates from at least 1832; transitive sense first recorded 1859. Related: Leaked; leaking.
leak (n.)
late 15c., from leak (v.) or Old Norse cognate leki. Sense of "revelation of secret information" is from 1950. Meaning "act of urination" is attested from 1934 ("Tropic of Cancer"); but the verb meaning "to piss" is from 1590s: "Why, you will allow vs ne're a Iourden, and then we leake in your Chimney." ["I Hen. IV," II.i.22]