- loose cannon (n.)
- in the figurative sense "wildly irresponsible person, potent person or thing freed from usual restraint," by 1896; in the literal sense an object of dread on old warships; the figurative use probably arose from a celebrated scene in a popular late novel by Victor Hugo:
You can reason with a bull dog, astonish a bull, fascinate a boa, frighten a tiger, soften a lion; no resource with such a monster as a loose cannon. You cannot kill it, it is dead; and at the same time it lives. It lives with a sinister life which comes from the infinite. It is moved by the ship, which is moved by the sea, which is moved by the wind. This exterminator is a plaything. [Victor Hugo, "Ninety Three," 1874]
- loose-leaf (adj.)
- 1899, of notebooks, ledgers, etc. made to allow insertion or removal of pages at will, from loose (adj.) + leaf (n.) "page of a book."
- loosely (adv.)
- late 14c., from loose (adj.) + -ly (2). Similar formation in Dutch losselijk, Old Norse lausliga, Danish löselig.
- loosen (v.)
- late 14c., losnen (transitive) "make loose, free from tightness," later lousen (early 15c.), from loose (v.) + -en (1). Intransitive sense of "become loose" is from 1670s. Meaning "limber the muscles before physical effort" is from 1955. Related: Loosened; loosening; loosener.
- looseness (n.)
- c. 1400, "freedom from restraint," from loose (adj.) + -ness. Meaning "laxity, irregularity, want of strictness" is from 1570s.
- loot (n.)
- "goods taken from an enemy, etc.," 1839, Anglo-Indian, from Hindi lut, from Sanskrit loptram, lotram "booty, stolen property," from PIE *roup-tro-, from root *reup- "to snatch" (see rip (v.)).
- loot (v.)
- "to plunder; carry off as loot," 1821, from loot (n.). Related: Looted; looting.
- looter (n.)
- "one who plunders," 1858, agent noun from loot (v.). The proper Anglo-Indian agent-noun was looty, from Hindi luti, from lut.
- looting (n.)
- 1842, verbal noun from loot (v.).
- lop (v.1)
- "to cut off," originally of branches of a tree, mid-15c. (implied in lopped; place name Loppedthorn is attested from 1287), a verb from Middle English loppe (n.) "small branches and twigs trimmed from trees" (early 15c.), which, along with Medieval Latin loppa, is of unknown origin. Related: Lopping.
- lop (v.2)
- "droop, hang loosely," as do the ears of certain dogs and rabbits, 1570s, probably a variant of lob or of lap (v.); compare lopsided (1711), which in early use also was lapsided. Lop-eared attested from 1680s. Related: Lopped; lopping.
- lope (v.)
- "to run with long strides," early 15c.; earlier "to leap, jump, spring" (c. 1300), from Old Norse hlaupa "to run, leap, spring up," from Proto-Germanic *hlaupan "to leap" (see leap (v.)). Related: Loped; loping. A lope-staff (c. 1600) was a pole used for leaping over marshes and dikes in low country.
- lope (n.)
- late 14c., "a jump, a leap," from lope (v.). Sense of "long, bounding stride" is from 1809.
- before vowels loph-, word-forming element used in science from 19c. and meaning "crest," from Greek lophos "neck of draught animals and men; crest of a helmet, crest of a hill, ridge,"
also "tuft on the head of birds, crest of feathers, cockscomb," a word of uncertain origin.
- lopsided (adj.)
- also lop-sided, "leaning to one side as a result of being disproportionately balanced," 1711 (lapsided), first used of ships; from lop (v.2) + side (n.). Related: Lopsidedly; lopsidedness.
- loquacious (adj.)
- 1660s, a back-formation from loquacity, or else formed from stem of Latin loquax (genitive loquacis) "talkative," from loqui "to speak" (see locution) + -ous. Compare French loquace, Spanish locuaz. Related: Loquaciously; loquaciousness.
- loquacity (n.)
- c. 1200, from Latin loquacitatem (nominative loquacitas) "talkativeness," from loquax "talkative," from loqui "to speak" (see locution). An Old English word for it was ofersprecolnes. Compare French loquacité, Spanish locuacidad, Italian loquacità.
- loquat (n.)
- Asian fruit, and the evergreen shrub that grows it, 1820, said to be from Cantonese luh kwat, literally "rush orange," from luh "a rush" + kiuh "an orange."
- stage direction, "he or she speaks," third person present indicative singular of Latin loqui "to talk" (see locution).
- loran (n.)
- also Loran, 1940, a word invented from L.R.N., initial letters in long-range navigation.
- lord (n.)
- mid-13c., laverd, loverd, from Old English hlaford "master of a household, ruler, feudal lord, superior; husband," also "God," translating Latin dominus, Greek kyrios in the New Testament, Hebrew yahweh in the Old (though Old English drihten was more frequent). Old English hlaford is a contraction of earlier hlafweard, literally "one who guards the loaves," from hlaf "bread, loaf" (see loaf (n.)) + weard "keeper, guardian" (see ward (n.)).
Compare lady (literally "bread-kneader"), and Old English hlafæta "household servant," literally "loaf-eater." For the contraction, compare Harold. The modern monosyllabic form emerged 14c. Meaning "an owner of land, houses, etc.," is from c. 1300; the sense in landlord. As the "usual polite or respectful form of address to a nobleman under the rank of a duke, and to a bishop" [OED] from 1540s. As an interjection from late 14c. Lords "peers of England," especially as represented in parliaments, is from mid-15c.
Lord's Prayer is from 1540s. Year of our Lord is from late 14c. (translating Latin anno domini) in reference to the incarnation of God in Christ. Lord knows (who, what, why, etc.), expressing a state of ignorance, is from 1711. Lord of the Flies (1907) translates Beelzebub (q.v.); William Golding's book was published in 1954. To drink like a lord is from 1620s.
- lord (v.)
- c. 1300, "to exercise lordship, rule as a lord," from lord (n.). Intransitive meaning "to play the lord, domineer" is late 14c. Related: Lorded; lording. To lord it is from 1570s.
- cricket grounds in London, named for founder Thomas Lord (1757-1832).
- lordling (n.)
- "puny or contemptible lord," late 13c., from lord (n.) + -ling.
- lordly (adj.)
- late 14c., "haughty, imperious," from Old English hlafordlic "of or pertaining to lords, noble;" see lord (n.) + -ly (1). From 1530s as "magnificent, on a grand scale, fit for a lord." As an adverb, "despotically," from mid-14c.
- lordosis (n.)
- curvature of the spine, 1704, Modern Latin, from Greek lordosis, from lordos "bent backwards," a word of uncertain origin, with possible cognates in Armenian, Celtic, and Germanic. From 1941 in reference to the mating position assumed by some female mammals. Related: Lordotic.
- lordship (n.)
- c. 1300, from Old English hlafordscipe "authority, rule, dominion" (translating Latin dominatio); see lord (n.) + -ship. As a form of address to nobles, judges, etc., from late 15c.
- lordy (interj.)
- 1832, in imitation of African-American vernacular; extended form of Lord (n.) as an interjection.
- lore (n.)
- Old English lar "learning, what is taught, knowledge, science, doctrine; art or act of teaching," from Proto-Germanic *laizo (Old Saxon lera, Old Frisian lare, Middle Dutch lere, Dutch leer, Old High German lera, German Lehre "teaching, precept, doctrine"), from PIE *leis- (1) "track, furrow" (see learn).
- 1843, from German, name of a rock in the River Rhine near Koblenz, Germany. In legend, a lovely woman sat atop it and sang while combing her long blond hair, distracting sailors so their ships foundered on the rock and they drowned. The second element of the name probably is Rhenish dialect lei "cliff, rock;" the first element is perhaps from Middle High German lüren "to lie in wait"
- lorgnette (n.)
- type of opera glass with a handle, 1803 (from 1776 as a French word in English), from French lorgnette, from lorgner "to squint," also "to leer at, ogle" (16c.), from lorgne "squinting, cross-eyed; silly, foolish" (Old French), a word of uncertain origin, perhaps from Germanic. With diminutive suffix -ette. Compare also French lorgnon "eyeglass, eyeglasses."
- lorimer (n.)
- c. 1200 (mid-12c. as surname), "maker of bits for bridles and saddles, worker in small ironware," from Old French loremier "saddler, harness-maker, military leatherworker" (Modern French lormier), from loraim, from Latin lorum "strap, thong, rein of a bridle," cognate with Greek eulera, aulera "reins," but further connections uncertain; perhaps a loan-word from a lost IE language [de Vaan], and/or from PIE root *wel- (3) "to turn, revolve" [Watkins].
- loris (n.)
- small primate of Sri Lanka, 1774, from French loris (Buffon), which is of unknown origin, sometimes said to be from obsolete Dutch loeris "booby, clown."
- lorn (adj.)
- c. 1300, "lost, ruined, undone" (now archaic), from Old English loren, strong past participle of leosan "to lose" (see lose). Meaning "abandoned, left alone, lonely" is from late 15c. Compare forlorn. Old English leosan became Middle English lesen, which begat losel, an old word for "a good-for-nothing fellow" (mid-14c.); hence loselry.
- region of eastern France, from Medieval Latin Lotharingia (German Lothringen), literally "Lothar's Realm." The name is given to what originally was a part of the lands assigned to Lothair I in the first division of the Carolingian empire at the Treaty of Verdun (843 C.E.). Before his death (855 C.E.), Lothair subdivided his lands among his three sons. His son Lothair II (835-869) was given the middle region, subsequently known as Lotharingia. For the name, see Lothario. Related: Lotharingian.
- lorry (n.)
- "a truck; a long wagon with a flat bed and four wheels," 1838, British railroad word, probably from verb lurry "to pull, tug" (1570s), which is of uncertain origin. Meaning "large motor vehicle for carrying goods on roads" (equivalent of U.S. truck (n.1)) is first attested 1911.
- lory (n.)
- small parrot of New Guinea and Australia, 1690s, from Malay (Austronesian) luri, name of kind of parrot, said to be a dialectal variant of nuri. Related: Lorikeet.
- Los Angeles
- city in southern California, U.S., founded 1781; the modern name is short for the original, given variously as El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles or El Pueblo de la Reyna de los Ángeles.
- lose (v.)
- Old English losian "be lost, perish," from los "destruction, loss," from Proto-Germanic *lausa- (source also of Old Norse los "the breaking up of an army;" Old English forleosan "to lose, destroy," Old Frisian forliasa, Old Saxon farliosan, Middle Dutch verliesen, Old High German firliosan, German verlieren, as well as English -less, loss, loose). The Germanic word is from PIE *leus-, an extended form of the root *leu- (1) "to loosen, divide, cut apart, untie, separate" (source also of Sanskrit lunati "cuts, cuts off," lavitram "sickle;" Greek lyein "to loosen, untie, slacken," lysus "a loosening;" Latin luere "to loose, release, atone for, expiate").
The verb also is merged with, or has taken the (weaker) sense of, the related Middle English leese "be deprived of, lose" (Old English leosan, a class II strong verb whose past participle loren survives in forlorn and lovelorn), from Proto-Germanic *leusanan (source also of Old High German virliosan, German verlieren, Old Frisian urliasa, Gothic fraliusan "to lose").
Hence lose in the transitive senses "part with accidentally, be deprived of, miss the possession or knowledge of" (money, blood, sleep, hair, etc.), c. 1200; "fail to keep, lose track of" (mid-13c.). Meaning "fail to preserve or maintain" is from mid-15c. Meaning "fail to gain or win" (something) is from c.1300; intransitive meaning "fail to win" (a game, contest, lawsuit, etc.) is from late 14c. Meaning "to cause (someone) to lose his way" is from 1640s; meaning "cease to have, be rid of" (something unwanted) is from 1660s.
To lose heart "become discouraged" is from 1744; to lose (one's) heart "fall in love" is from 1630s. To lose (one's) mind "become insane" is attested from c. 1500. To lose out "fail" is 1858, American English. To lose it "become distraught, break down and lose control of oneself" is by 1990s; the it probably being one's self-control or grip on reality. Related: Lost; losing.
- loser (n.)
- mid-14c., "a destroyer" (a sense now obsolete), agent noun from lose (v.). Sense of "one who suffers loss" is from 1540s; meaning "horse that loses a race" is from 1902; "convicted criminal" is from 1912; "hapless person, one who habitually fails to win" is by 1955 in U.S. student slang. Bad loser (also poor, sore, etc.) "one who takes defeat with bad grace" is by 1892.
- loss (n.)
- Old English los "ruin, destruction," from Proto-Germanic *lausa- (see lose), with an etymological sense of "dissolution." But this seems scarcely to have survived in Middle English, and the modern word, with a weaker sense, "failure to hold, keep, or preserve what was in one's possession; failure to gain or win," probably evolved 14c. from lost, the past participle of lose.
Phrase at a loss "confused, uncertain" (1590s) is a phrase from hunting, in reference to hounds losing the scent. To cut (one's) losses is from 1885, originally in finance. The retailer's loss-leader "advertised product sold at cost or below" (to entice customers in to buy other things as well) is from 1922.
- loss-proof (adj.)
- 1963, from loss (n.) + proof (n.).
- lossy (adj.)
- "characterized by loss," 1948, a term in electrical engineering, from loss + -y (2).
- lost (adj.)
- c. 1300; "wasted, ruined, spent in vain," c. 1500; also "no longer to be found, gone astray" (1520s), past participle adjectives from lose. Meaning "spiritually ruined, inaccessible to good influence" is from 1640s. Related: Lostness.
Of battles, games, etc. in which one has been defeated, 1724; hence Lost Cause in reference to the bid for independence by the southern states of the U.S., first as the title of the 1866 pro-Southern history of the CSA and the rebellion written by Virginia journalist E.A. Pollard (1832-1872). Lost Generation in reference to the youth that came of age when World War I broke is first attested 1926 in Hemingway's "The Sun Also Rises," where he credits it to Gertrude Stein. Lost-and-found as the name of a department where misplaced articles are brought or sought is by 1907.
- lot (n.)
- Old English hlot "object used to determine someone's share" (anything from dice to straw, but often a chip of wood with a name inscribed on it), also "what falls to a person by lot," from Proto-Germanic *khlutom (source also of Old Norse hlutr "lot, share," Old Frisian hlot "lot," Old Saxon hlot, Middle Dutch, Dutch lot, Old High German hluz "share of land," German Los), from a strong verb (the source of Old English hleotan "to cast lots, obtain by lot; to foretell"). The whole group is of unknown origin.
The object was placed with others in a receptacle (such as a hat or helmet), which was shaken, the winner being the one whose name or mark was on the lot that fell out first. Hence the expression cast lots; to cast (one's) lot with another (1530s, originally biblical) is to agree to share winnings. In some cases the lots were drawn by hand, hence to draw lots. The word was adopted from Germanic into the Romanic languages (Spanish lote, and compare lottery, lotto).
Meaning "choice resulting from the casting of lots" first attested c. 1200. Meaning "share or portion of life" in any way, "that which is given by fate, God or destiny" is from c. 1300. Meaning "number of persons or things of the same kind" is from 1570s. Sense of "plot of land" is first recorded 1630s, American English (distribution of the most desirable properties in new settlements often was determined by casting lots), then especially "parcel of land set aside for a specified purpose" (the Hollywood sense is from 1928). The common U.S. city lot was a rectangle 25 feet wide (along the street) by 100 deep; it was so universal as to be sometimes a unit of measure.
Meaning "group, collection" is 1725, from the notion of auction lots. Lots in the generalized sense of "great many" is attested by 1812; lotsa, colloquial for "lots of," is from 1927; lotta for "lot of" is by 1906.
- lote (n.)
- c. 1500, Englished form of lotus. Related: Lote-tree.
- loth (adj.)
- alternative spelling of loath.
- masc. proper name, Italian, from Old High German Hlothari, Hludher (whence German Luther, French Lothaire; the Old English equivalent was Hloðhere), literally "famous warrior," from Old High German lut (see loud) + heri "host, army" (see harry (v.)). As a characteristic name for a jaunty rake, 1756, from "the gay Lothario," name of the principal male character in Nicholas Rowe's "The Fair Penitent" (1703).
- lotion (n.)
- c. 1400, loscion, "liquid preparation for application to the skin," from Old French lotion (14c.), from Latin lotionem (nominative lotio) "a washing," noun of action from lotus (varied contraction of lavatus), popular form of lautus, past participle of lavere "to wash" (see lave).
- lotion (v.)
- 1817, from lotion (n.). There is a nonce-use from 1768. Related: Lotioned; lotioning.