Lett Look up Lett at Dictionary.com
1831, from German Lette, from Old High German liuti "people" (German Leute). The native name is Latvji (see Latvia). Related: Lettic; Lettish.
letter (n.1) Look up letter at Dictionary.com
c. 1200, "graphic symbol, alphabetic sign, written character," from Old French letre (10c., Modern French lettre) "character, letter; missive, note," in plural, "literature, writing, learning," from Latin littera (also litera) "letter of the alphabet," of uncertain origin, perhaps via Etruscan from Greek diphthera "tablet," with change of d- to l- as in lachrymose. In this sense it replaced Old English bocstæf, literally "book staff" (compare German Buchstabe "letter, character," from Old High German buohstab, from Proto-Germanic *bok-staba-m).

Latin littera also meant "a writing, document, record," and in plural litteræ "a letter, epistle," a sense first attested in English early 13c., replacing Old English ærendgewrit, literally "errand-writing." The Latin plural also meant "literature, books," and figuratively "learning, liberal education, schooling" (see letters). School letter in sports, attested by 1908, were said to have been first awarded by University of Chicago football coach Amos Alonzo Stagg. Expression to the letter "precisely" is from 1520s (earlier as after the letter). Letter-perfect is from 1845, originally in theater jargon, in reference to an actor knowing the lines exactly. Letter-press, in reference to matter printed from relief surfaces, is from 1840.
letter (v.) Look up letter at Dictionary.com
"to write in letters," 1660s, from letter (n.1). Earlier it meant "to instruct" (mid-15c.). Related: Lettered; lettering.
letter (n.2) Look up letter at Dictionary.com
"one who lets" in any sense, c. 1400, agent noun from let (v.).
lettered (adj.) Look up lettered at Dictionary.com
"literate," c. 1300, from letter (n.). Meaning "inscribed" is from 1660s.
letterhead (n.) Look up letterhead at Dictionary.com
1868, short for letterheading (1867); from letter (n.1) + head (n.). So called because it was printed at the "head" of the piece of paper.
lettering (n.) Look up lettering at Dictionary.com
1640s, "act of writing;" 1811 as "act of putting letters on something," verbal noun from letter (v.).
letters (n.) Look up letters at Dictionary.com
"the profession of authorship or literature," mid-13c., from plural of letter (n.).
lettuce (n.) Look up lettuce at Dictionary.com
late 13c., probably from Old French laitues, plural of laitue "lettuce," from Latin lactuca "lettuce," from lac (genitive lactis) "milk" (see lactation); so called for the milky juice of the plant.
leu (n.) Look up leu at Dictionary.com
monetary unit of Romania, introduced 1867, literally "lion." Monetary names in the Balkans often translate as "lion" because Dutch gold coins stamped with lions circulated widely in the region in the 17c. and the word for "lion" came to be a word for "money" in some languages in the region.
leukaemia (n.) Look up leukaemia at Dictionary.com
alternative spelling of leukemia.
leukemia (n.) Look up leukemia at Dictionary.com
1851, on model of German Leukämie (1848), coined by R. Virchow from Greek leukos "clear, white" (cognate with Gothic liuhaþ, Old English leoht "light;" see light (n.)) + haima "blood" (see -emia).
leukemic (adj.) Look up leukemic at Dictionary.com
also leukaemic, 1852; see leukemia + -ic.
leukocyte (n.) Look up leukocyte at Dictionary.com
also leucocyte, 1860, via French leucocyte, from Greek leuko-, comb. form of leukos "white" (see light (n.)) + -cyte (see cyto-).
lev (n.) Look up lev at Dictionary.com
monetary unit of Bulgaria, introduced 1881, literally "lion" (see leu).
Levant Look up Levant at Dictionary.com
"Mediterranean lands east of Italy," late 15c., from Middle French levant "the Orient," from present participle of lever "to rise" (from Latin levare "to raise;" see lever). The region so called in reference to the direction of sunrise.
Levantine (adj.) Look up Levantine at Dictionary.com
1640s, from Levant + -ine (1).
levari facias Look up levari facias at Dictionary.com
Latin, literally "cause to be levied."
levator (n.) Look up levator at Dictionary.com
from medical Latin levator "a lifter," from Latin levatus, past participle of levare "to raise" (see lever).
levee (n.1) Look up levee at Dictionary.com
1719, "natural or artificial embankment to prevent overflow of a river," from New Orleans French levée "raising, lifting; embankment," from French, originally fem. past participle of lever "to raise," from Latin levare "to raise" (see lever).
levee (n.2) Look up levee at Dictionary.com
"morning assembly held by a prince or king (upon rising from bed)," 1670s, from French lever "a raising," noun use of verb meaning "to raise" (see levee (n.1)).
level (n.) Look up level at Dictionary.com
mid-14c., "tool to indicate a horizontal line," from Old French livel "a level" (13c.), ultimately from Latin libella "a balance, level," diminutive of libra "balance, scale, unit of weight," from PIE *lithra- "a scale." Cognate Spanish nivel, Modern French niveau are from the same source but altered by dissimilation. Meaning "horizontality" is from c. 1400. Meaning "position as marked by a horizontal line" is from 1530s. Phrase on the level "fair, honest" is from 1872; earlier it meant "moderate, without great ambition" (1790).
level (v.) Look up level at Dictionary.com
mid-15c., "to make level," from level (n.). From c. 1600 as "to bring to a level;" 1958 as "to cease increasing." Meaning "to aim a gun" is late 15c. Slang sense of "tell the truth" is from 1920. To level up "to rise" is attested by 1863.
A word here as to the misconception labored under by our English neighbor; he evidently does not understand the American manner of doing things. We never level down in this country; we are always at work on the up grade. "Level up! Level up!" is the motto of the American people. [James E. Garretson, "Professional Education," in "The Dental Cosmos," Philadelphia, 1865]
To level off "cease rising or falling" is from 1920, originally in aviation.
level (adj.) Look up level at Dictionary.com
early 15c., from level (n.). To do one's level best is from 1851.
levelheaded (adj.) Look up levelheaded at Dictionary.com
also level-headed, 1869, from level (adj.) + head (n.). The notion is of "balanced." Related: Levelheadedness.
leveller (n.) Look up leveller at Dictionary.com
1590s, someone or something that makes level; agent noun of level (v.). From 1640s as the name of a political party of the time of Charles I that advocated abolishing all differences of position and rank.
lever (n.) Look up lever at Dictionary.com
c. 1300, from Old French levier (Modern French leveur) "a lifter, a lever," agent noun from lever "to raise," from Latin levare "to raise," from levis "light" in weight, from PIE root *legwh- "light, having little weight; easy, agile, nimble" (cognates: Sanskrit laghuh "quick, small;" Greek elakhys "small," elaphros "light;" Old Church Slavonic liguku, Lithuanian lengvas "light;" Old Irish laigiu "smaller, worse;" Gothic leihts, Old English leoht "light" (adj.)). As a verb, 1856, from the noun.
leverage (n.) Look up leverage at Dictionary.com
1724, "action of a lever," from lever (n.) + -age. Meaning "power or force of a lever" is from 1827; figurative sense from 1858. The financial sense is attested by 1933, American English; as a verb by 1956. Related: Leveraged; leverages; leveraging.
leveret (n.) Look up leveret at Dictionary.com
"young hare," early 15c., from Old French levrat, diminutive of levre (12c., Modern French lièvre) "hare," from Latin lepore, from lepus.
Levi Look up Levi at Dictionary.com
masc. proper name, biblical son of Jacob by Leah, from Hebrew lewi, literally "joining, pledging, attached," from stem of lawah "he joined."
leviathan (n.) Look up leviathan at Dictionary.com
late 14c., "sea monster, sea serpent," also regarded as a form of Satan, from Late Latin leviathan, from Hebrew livyathan "dragon, serpent, huge sea animal," of unknown origin, perhaps related to liwyah "wreath," from root l-w-h- "to wind, turn, twist." Of powerful persons or things from c. 1600. Hobbes's use is from 1651.
levirate (n.) Look up levirate at Dictionary.com
custom by which the male next-of-kin of a dead man was bound to marry his widow, 1725, from Latin levir "brother-in-law" (from PIE *daiwer- "husband's brother") + -ate (2).
Levis (n.) Look up Levis at Dictionary.com
1926, American English, originally Levi's, from Levi Strauss and Company, original manufacturer. Strauss' innovation was the copper rivets at strain points. A cowboy's accessory, adopted as a fashion c. 1940s.
levitate (v.) Look up levitate at Dictionary.com
1670s, "to rise by virtue of lightness," from Latin levitas "lightness," patterned in English on gravitate. Sense of "raise (a person) into the air" is mainly from spiritualism (1870s). Related: Levitated; levitating.
levitation (n.) Look up levitation at Dictionary.com
1660s, noun of action from Latin levitas (see levitate) + -ion.
Leviticus Look up Leviticus at Dictionary.com
third book of the Pentateuch, c. 1400, from Late Latin Leviticus (liber), literally "book of the Levites," from Greek to Leuitikon biblion, from Leuites, from Hebrew Lewi. Properly the part of the Pentateuch dealing with the function of the priests who were of the tribe of Levi (a portion of the tribe acted as assistants to the priests in the temple-worship). The Hebrew title is Torath Kohanim, literally "the law of the priests." Related: Levite; Levitical.
Levittown Look up Levittown at Dictionary.com
used figuratively for "generic suburban tract housing," American English, from the vast planned real estate developments built by the firm Levitt & Sons Inc., the first on Long Island, 1946-51 (more than 17,000 homes), the second north of Philadelphia (1951-55).
levity (n.) Look up levity at Dictionary.com
"want of seriousness, frivolity," 1560s, from Latin levitatem (nominative levitas) "lightness, frivolity," from levis "light" in weight (see lever) + -ity.
levo- Look up levo- at Dictionary.com
word-forming element meaning "toward the left," from French lévo-, from Latin laevus "left" (see left (adj.)).
levy (v.) Look up levy at Dictionary.com
early 13c., "act of raising or collecting," from Anglo-French leve, from Old French levée "act of raising," noun use of fem. past participle of lever "to raise" (see lever). Originally of taxes, later of men for armies (c. 1500). Related: Levied; levying.
levy (n.) Look up levy at Dictionary.com
"an act of levying," early 15c., from Anglo-French leve, Old French levée "a raising, lifting; levying," noun use of fem. past participle of lever "to raise" (see lever).
lewd (adj.) Look up lewd at Dictionary.com
Old English læwede "nonclerical," of uncertain origin but probably ultimately from Vulgar Latin *laigo-, from Latin laicus (see lay (adj.)). Sense of "unlettered, uneducated" (early 13c.) descended to "coarse, vile, lustful" by late 14c. Related: Lewdly; lewdness.
Lewis Look up Lewis at Dictionary.com
masc. proper name, Anglo-French form of French Louis (see Louis).
lex talionis Look up lex talionis at Dictionary.com
1590s, Latin, "law of retaliation," from talionis, genitive of talio (see retaliation); an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.
lexeme (n.) Look up lexeme at Dictionary.com
1937, from lexicon + -eme, ending abstracted from morpheme. Related: Lexemic.
lexical (adj.) Look up lexical at Dictionary.com
1833, from Greek lexikos "pertaining to words" (see lexicon) + -al (1). Related: Lexically.
lexico- Look up lexico- at Dictionary.com
word-forming element, from Latinized comb. form of Greek lexikos (see lexicon).
lexicographer (n.) Look up lexicographer at Dictionary.com
1650s, from French lexicographe "lexicographer," from Greek lexikographos, from lexikon "wordbook" (see lexicon) + -graphos "writer," from graphein "to write" (see -graphy).
lexicography (n.) Look up lexicography at Dictionary.com
1670s, from lexico- + -graphy. Related: Lexicographic; lexicographical.
lexicology (n.) Look up lexicology at Dictionary.com
1828, from lexico- + -logy.