lest (conj.)

c. 1200, "that not," especially "for fear that" [OED calls it a negative particle of intention], from a contraction of the Old English phrase þy læs þe "the less that," from þy, instrumental case of demonstrative article þæt "that" + læs (see less) + conjunction þe (see the). The þy was dropped and the remaining two words contracted into early Middle English leste.