- list (n.1)
- "catalogue consisting of names in a row or series," c. 1600, from Middle English liste "border, edging, stripe" (late 13c.), from Old French liste "border, band, row, group," also "strip of paper," or from Old Italian lista "border, strip of paper, list," both from Germanic sources (compare Old High German lista "strip, border, list," Old Norse lista "border, selvage," Old English liste "border of cloth, fringe"), from Proto-Germanic *liston, from PIE *leizd- "border, band."
The original Middle English sense is now obsolete. The sense of "enumeration" is from strips of paper used as a sort of catalogue. The native Old English form of the word lingered as list in a few specialized senses. List price is from 1871.
- list (v.1)
- "to tilt, lean, incline to one side," especially of a ship, 1880, earlier spelled lust (1620s), of unknown origin. Perhaps an unexplained spelling variant of Middle English lysten "to please, desire, wish, like" (see list (v.4)) with a sense development from the notion of "leaning" toward what one desires (compare incline (v.)). Related: Listed; listing.
- list (v.2)
- also lyst, "hear, harken," now poetic or obsolete, from Old English hlystan "hear, hearken," from hlyst "hearing," from Proto-Germanic *khlustiz (source also of Old Norse hlusta), from PIE root *kleu- "to hear" (see listen (v.)). With "noun-formative -t-" [Century Dictionary]. Related: Listed; listing.
- list (v.3)
- "to put down in a list or catalogue; to make a list of," 1610s, from list (n.1). Meaning "to place real estate on the market" is from 1904. Meaning "put an edge around" (c. 1300, now probably obsolete) is from Old French lister or else from list (n.2). Related: Listed; listing.
- list (v.4)
- "to be pleased, desire" (intransitive), a sense now archaic, mid-12c., lusten, listen "to please, desire," from Old English lystan "to please, cause pleasure or desire, provoke longing," from Proto-Germanic *lustjan (source also of Old Saxon lustian, Dutch lusten "to like, fancy," Old High German lusten, German lüsten, Old Norse lysta "desire, wish, have a fancy"), from *lustuz-, from PIE root *las- "to be eager, wanton, or unruly" (see lust (n.)). Related: Listed; listing.
- list (n.2)
- "a narrow strip," Old English liste "border, hem, edge, strip," from Proto-Germanic *liston (source also of Old High German lista "strip, border, list," Old Norse lista "border, selvage," German leiste), from PIE *leizd- "border, band" (see list (n.1)). The Germanic root also is the source of French liste, Italian lista. The word has had many technical senses in English, including "lobe of an ear" and "a stripe of color." This also is the list in archaic lists "place of combat" (late 14c.), from an earlier sense "boundary;" the fighting ground being originally at the boundary of fields.
- list (n.3)
- "a lean (of a ship) to one side," 1834, from earlier lust, from the verb (see list (v.1)).
- list (n.4)
- c. 1200, "pleasure, enjoyment;" mid-13c., "desire, wish, will, choice," from list (v.4). Somehow English has lost listy (adj.) "pleasant, willing (to do something); ready, quick" (mid-15c.).
- listed (adj.)
- "included in a roll or catalogue," 1882, from past participle of list (v.3). Of telephone numbers, "in the phone book," from 1919. Earlier "provided with a border" (mid-15c.), from list (n.2); from 1670s in reference to ground marked off for combat.
- listen (v.)
- Old English hlysnan (Northumbrian lysna) "to listen, hear; attend to, obey" (transitive), from Proto-Germanic *khlusinon (source also of Dutch luisteren, Old High German hlosen "to listen," German lauschen "to listen"), from PIE root *kleu- "hearing, to hear."
This root is the source also of Sanskrit srnoti "hears," srosati "hears, obeys;" Avestan sraothra "ear;" Middle Persian srod "hearing, sound;" Lithuanian klausau "to hear," slove "splendor, honor;" Old Church Slavonic slusati "to hear," slava "fame, glory," slovo "word;" Greek klyo "hear, be called," kleos "report, rumor, fame glory," kleio "make famous;" Latin cluere "to hear oneself called, be spoken of;" Old Irish ro-clui-nethar "hears," clunim "I hear," clu "fame, glory," cluada "ears;" Welsh clywaf "I hear;" Old English hlud "loud," hleoðor "tone, tune;" Old High German hlut "sound;" Gothic hiluþ "listening, attention."
The -t- probably is by influence of Old English hlystan (see list (v.2)). For vowel evolution, see bury. Intransitive sense is from c. 1200. To listen in (1905) was originally in reference to radio broadcasts.
- listen (n.)
- "an act of listening," 1788, in on the listen "alert," from listen (v.).
- listenable (adj.)
- 1834, from listen (v.) + -able. Related: Listenability.
- listener (n.)
- 1610s, "one who listens;" agent noun from listen (v.). Meaning "one who hears a radio broadcast" is from 1912; hence listenership (1938).
- Listerine (n.)
- 1879, American English, formulated by Dr. Joseph Lawrence and Jordan Wheat Lambert as a multi-purpose disinfectant and anti-septic for surgery. In 1895, after it was discovered to kill germs commonly found in the mouth, the Lambert Company started marketing it as an oral antiseptic. The product was named for Joseph Lord Lister, F.R.S., O.M. (1827-1912), the English surgeon, who in 1865 revolutionized modern surgery by applying Pasteur's discoveries and performing the first ever antiseptic surgery. Lister objected in vain to the use of his name on the product.
Lister (attested from 1286, an Anglian surname) is contracted from litster, from Middle English liten "to dye, color" (from Old Norse; see lit (n.1)) + fem. agent suffix -ster; hence, "a dyer." Unless it is from lister (late 14c.) "clerk whose duty is to read and expound Scriptures; one who reads books, a reader" (from a variant of French litres).
- listing (n.)
- "the placing of property with an agent to be catalogued for sale," 1906, verbal noun from list (v.3); meaning "an entry in a catalogue" is from 1962.
- listless (adj.)
- "languid and unresponsive, slothful," mid-15c., from Middle English liste "pleasure, joy, delight" (see list (v.4)) + -less. Spenser, if no one else, tried listful (1590s). Related: Listlessly; listlessness.
- lit (adj.)
- "illuminated; afire," past participle adjective from light (v.2). Slang meaning "drunk" is recorded from 1914.
- lit (n.2)
- colloquial shortening of literature, attested by 1850.
- lit (n.1)
- "color, hue, dye," early 12c., from Old Norse litr "color, hue; the color of the sky at dawn or dusk," from Proto-Germanic *wlitiz (source also of Old Frisian wlite "exterior, form," Gothic *wlits "face, form"). The cognate Old English word was wlite "brightness; appearance, form, aspect; look, countenance; beauty, splendor," which seems to have been rare after c. 1400. Compare litmus.
- litany (n.)
- c. 1200, "solemn prayer of supplication," from Old French letanie (13c., Modern French litanie) and directly from Medieval Latin letania, Late Latin litania (source also of Spanish letania, Italian litania), from Greek litaneia "prayer, an entreating," from lite "prayer, supplication, entreaty," a word of unknown origin. From the notion of monotonous enumeration of petitions in Christian prayer services came the generalized sense of "repeated series" (early 19c.), which originated in French.
For those who know the Greek words, a litany is a series of prayers, a liturgy is a canon of public service; the latter in practice includes prayer, but does not say so. [Fowler]
- lite (adj.)
- alternative spelling of light (adj.1), by 1962, but used from at least 1917 as a word-forming element in product names, often as a variation of light (n.).
The word Adjusto-Lite for portable electric lamps was opposed by the user of a trade mark Auto-lite registered before the date of use claimed by the applicant. ["The Trade-Mark Reporter," 1922]
Coincidentally lite in Old English and early Middle English meant "few; little; not much;" see little (adj.), which is an extended form of it.
- liter (n.)
- unit of capacity in the metric system, 1797, from French litre (1793), from litron, name of an obsolete French measure of capacity for grain (16c.), from Medieval Latin litra, from Greek litra "pound" (unit of weight), which apparently is from the same Sicilian Italic source as Latin libra (see Libra).
- literacy (n.)
- "ability to read and write," 1883, from literate + -cy. Illiteracy, however, dates back to 17c.
- literal (adj.)
- late 14c., "taking words in their natural meaning" (originally in reference to Scripture and opposed to mystical or allegorical), from Late Latin literalis/litteralis "of or belonging to letters or writing," from Latin litera/littera "letter, alphabetic sign; literature, books" (see letter (n.1)). Related: Literalness.
Meaning "of or pertaining to alphabetic letters" is from late 14c. Meaning "concerned with letters and learning, learned, scholarly" is from mid-15c. Sense of "verbally exact, according to the letter of verbal expression" is attested from 1590s, as is application to the primary sense of a word or passage. Literal-minded is attested from 1791.
- literalism (n.)
- 1640s, from French littéralisme; see literal + -ism.
- literalist (n.)
- "one who adheres to the exact word," 1640s, from literal + -ist. Related: Literalistic (1850).
- literality (n.)
- 1640s; see literal + -ity.
- literally (adv.)
- 1530s, "in a literal sense, according to the exact meaning of the word or words used," from literal + -ly (2). Since late 17c. it has been used in metaphors, hyperbole, etc., to indicate what follows must be taken in the strongest admissible sense. But this is irreconcilable with the word's etymological sense and has led to the much-lamented modern misuse of it.
We have come to such a pass with this emphasizer that where the truth would require us to insert with a strong expression 'not literally, of course, but in a manner of speaking', we do not hesitate to insert the very word we ought to be at pains to repudiate; ... such false coin makes honest traffic in words impossible. [Fowler, 1924]
- literary (adj.)
- 1640s, "pertaining to alphabet letters," from French littéraire, from Latin literarius/litterarius "belonging to letters or learning," from littera/litera "alphabetic letter" (see letter (n.1)). Meaning "pertaining to literature" is attested from 1737. Related: Literariness.
- literate (adj.)
- "educated, instructed, having knowledge of letters," early 15c., from Latin literatus/litteratus "educated, learned, who knows the letters;" formed in imitation of Greek grammatikos from Latin littera/litera "alphabetic letter" (see letter (n.1)). By late 18c. especially "acquainted with literature." As a noun, "one who can read and write," 1894.
- literati (n.)
- "men and women of letters; the learned class as a whole," 1620s, noun use of Latin literati/litterati, plural of literatus/litteratus "educated, learned" (see literate). The proper singular would be literatus (fem. literata), though Italian literato sometimes is used in English.
- literation (n.)
- "representation of sounds by alphabetic letters," 1843, from Latin litera "alphabetic letter" (see letter (n.1)) + -ation.
- literature (n.)
- early 15c., "book-learning," from Latin literatura/litteratura "learning, a writing, grammar," originally "writing formed with letters," from litera/littera "alphabetic letter" also "an epistle, writing, document; literature, great books; science, learning" (see letter (n.1)). In English originally "book learning" (in which sense it replaced Old English boccræft); the meaning "activity of a writer, the profession of a literary writer" is first attested 1779 in Johnson's "Lives of the English Poets;" that of "literary productions as a whole, body of writings from a period or people" is first recorded 1812.
Great literature is simply language charged with meaning to the utmost possible degree. [Ezra Pound, "ABC of Reading"]
Meaning "the whole of the writing on a particular subject" is by 1860; sense of "printed matter generally" is from 1895. The Latin word also is the source of Spanish literatura, Italian letteratura, German Literatur.
- lith (n.)
- "joint, limb of the body" (now obsolete or provincial), Old English liþ "limb, member, joint," cognate with Old Frisian lith, Dutch lid, Old High German lid, Old Norse liðr, Gothic liþus, and, compounded with ga-, German glied "limb, member." Lith and limb was a Middle English alliterative pairing.
- litharge (n.)
- "mineral form of lead monoxide" (used to make red pigments), early 14c., from Old French litarge, from Latin lithargyrus, from Greek lithargyros, from lithos "stone" (see lithos-) + argyros "silver" (see argent).
- lithe (adj.)
- Old English liðe "soft, mild, gentle, calm, meek," also, of persons, "gracious, kind, agreeable," from Proto-Germanic *linthja- (source also of Old Saxon lithi "soft, mild, gentle," Old High German lindi, German lind, Old Norse linr "soft to the touch, gentle, mild, agreeable," with characteristic loss of "n" before "th" in English), from PIE root *lento- "flexible" (source also of Latin lentus "flexible, pliant, slow," Sanskrit lithi).
In Middle English, used of the weather. Current sense of "easily flexible" is from c. 1300. Related: Litheness. Old and Middle English had the related verb lin "to cease doing (something)," also used of the wind dying down.
- lithesome (adj.)
- 1768, from lithe + -some (1). Related: Lithesomely; lithesomeness.
- lithic (adj.)
- 1797, "pertaining to or consisting of stone," from Greek lithikos "of or pertaining to stone," from lithos "stone" (see litho-). From 1875 as "pertaining to lithium.
- lithium (n.)
- silver-white metallic element, 1818, with element ending -ium + lithia, Modern Latin name given by Swedish chemist Jöns Jacob Berzelius (1779-1848) to the earth from which it was extracted, from Greek lithos "stone" (see litho-). The name indicates its mineral origin and distinguishes it from two previously known alkalis of vegetable origin.
- before vowels, lith-, word-forming element meaning "stone, rock;" from Greek lithos "stone, a precious stone, marble; a piece on a game board," a word of unknown origin.
- lithodomous (adj.)
- "dwelling in rocks," 1835, from French lithodomus, lithodomes "shellfish which lives in a hole in a rock" (1820s, Cuvier), from litho- "rock" + Greek domos "house" (see domestic (adj.)). Greek lithodomos meant "a mason," from demein "to build," which is derived from domos.
- lithograph (n.)
- "print made by lithography," 1828, a back-formation from lithography. As a verb, "to reproduce by lithography," from 1825. Related: Lithographed.
- lithography (n.)
- "ink-impression printing from designs, etc., cut into stone," 1813, from German Lithographie (c. 1804), coined from litho- "stone" + -graphie (see -graphy), which here apparently draws its sense from the Greek verb graphein "to draw, represent by lines" rather than the abstract noun ending -graphia "description of" (in writing), used to form names of descriptive sciences. So called because the original printing surfaces were of stone. The process was said to have been invented c.1796 by Alois Senefelder (1771-1833) of Munich. The word had been used earlier in English in the sense "description of stones or rocks" (1708). Another earlier sense, now also obsolete, was "art of engraving on precious stones" (1730). Related: Lithographer; lithographic.
- litholatry (n.)
- "worship of a rock or rocks," 1868, from litho- "rock" + -latry "worship." Related: Litholater.
- lithology (n.)
- "the study of rock-formation," a branch of geology, 1716, from Modern Latin lithologia, from litho- "rock" + -logia "study of" (see -logy). Related: Lithologic; lithologically; lithologist.
- lithosphere (n.)
- "crust of the earth, solid part of the earth's surface," 1881, from or modeled on German Lithosphäre (1870s); see litho- "stone" + sphere.
- lithotomy (n.)
- operation of cutting out a bladder stone, 1721; see litho- "stone" + -tomy "a cutting." Greek lithotomia meant "place where stone is cut; a quarry" (lithotomos is "stone-cutter").
- lithotripsy (n.)
- operation of crushing a stone in the bladder, 1834, from litho- "stone" + -tripsy, from Greek tripsis "rubbing, friction," from tribein "to rub, thresh, pound, wear out," from PIE root *tere- (1) "to rub, turn, twist" (see throw (v.)). Klein says the intended Greek word is thryptein "to crush" and there has been "confusion" with tribein.
- Baltic nation, from Lithuanian Lietuva, a name of unknown origin, perhaps from a PIE source related to Latin litus "shore" (see littoral) and thus meaning "shoreland." Related: Lithuanian (c. 1600 as a noun). Kant, who was born in nearby Königsberg, was the first to call attention to its philological purity; it preserves many ancient Indo-European features, and "Lithuanian peasants can understand Sanskrit sentences pronounced by learned scholars" according to the "Encyclopedia Americana" (1919).
[T]he Lithuanian language is remarkable for its great beauty. It has more endearing terms than the Spanish, the Italian or the Russian. If the value of a nation in the whole of humanity were to be measured by the beauty and purity of its language, the Lithuanians would rank first among the nations of Europe. [Elisee Reclus, "Geographie Universelle," 1875]
- litigant (n.)
- 1650s; earlier as an adjective (1630s), from French litigant or directly from Latin litigantem (nominative litigans), present participle of litigare "to dispute, quarrel, strive, carry on a suit" (see litigation).