c. 1200, laghesst, superlative of lah "low" (see low (adj.)).
1650s (n.) "member of the lowest or poorest class of a community;" 1660s (adj.) "of or belonging to the lowest class of people," hence "mean, vile, vulgar;" with -ian + Latin proletarius "citizen of the lowest class" (as an adjective, "relating to offspring"), from proles "offspring, progeny" (see prolific). In ancient Rome, according to the traditional division of the state, the proletarius was one of the propertyless people, exempted from taxes and military service, who served the state only by having children. The modern political sense of proletarian is by 1851.
"of the smallest possible amount or degree, that is the lowest obtainable," 1810, from minimum (n.).
"low, lowest," applied to tides which have the least difference of height between the flood and ebb, late 15c., from Old English nepflod "neap flood," the tide occurring at the end of the first and third quarters of the lunar month, in which high waters are at their lowest, of unknown origin, with no known cognates (Danish niptid probably is from English). Original sense perhaps is "without power." As a noun from 1580s, "a neap tide," also sometimes in modern use "the ebb or lowest point of a tide."
"contemptible person," 1914 in U.S. underworld slang, originally "incompetent or worthless criminal," perhaps from a sense of "person in the lowest position" and thus from heel (n.1).
Latin plural of fungus. In biology, in reference to one of the lowest of the great groups of cellular cryptograms.