Middle English le, leoh, from Old English hleo "shelter, cover, defense, protection," from Proto-Germanic *khlewaz (source also of Old Norse hle, Danish læ, Old Saxon hleo, Dutch lij "lee, shelter"). The original sense is uncertain; it might have been "warm" (compare German lau "tepid," Old Norse hly "shelter, warmth"), and Watkins traces it to a PIE *kle-wo-, a suffixed variant form of the root *kele- (1) "warm."
Nautical sense "that part of the hemisphere to which the wind is directed" (c. 1400) is of Scandinavian origin, from the notion of the side of the ship opposite that which receives the wind as the sheltered side. As an adjective, 1510s, from the noun. The lee shore is that toward which the wind blows. Middle English also had lewth "warmth, shelter," Old English hleowþ, with Proto-Germanic abstract noun suffix *-itho (see -th (2)). Also compare lukewarm.
"sudden pitch to one side," 1784, from earlier lee-larches (1765), a nautical term for "the sudden roll which a ship makes to lee-ward in a high sea, when a large wave strikes her, and bears her weather-side violently up, which depresses the other in proportion" ["Complete Dictionary of Arts and Sciences," London 1765]. This is perhaps from French lacher "to let go," from Latin laxus (see lax).
When a Ship is brought by the Lee, it is commonly occaſsioned by a large Sea, and by the Neglect of the Helm's-man. When the Wind is two or three Points on the Quarter, the Ship taking a Lurch, brings the Wind on the other Side, and lays the Sails all dead to the Maſt; as the Yards are braced up, ſhe then having no Way, and the Helm being of no Service, I would therefore brace about the Head ſails ſharp the other Way .... [John Hamilton Moore, Practical Navigator, 8th ed., 1784]
"situated away from the wind, on the side opposite the weather side of a ship, pertaining to the quarter toward which the wind blows," 1660s, from lee + -ward. Also as an adverb. Similar formation in Dutch lijwaarts, German leewärts, Swedish lävart. The Leeward Islands are so called in reference to prevailing northeasterly trade winds.
Old English leah "open field, meadow, piece of untilled grassy ground," earlier læch, preserved in place names, from Proto-Germanic *lauhaz (source also of Old High German loh "clearing," and probably also Flemish -loo, which forms the second element in Waterloo), from PIE *louko- "light place" (source also of Sanskrit lokah "open space, free space, world," Latin lucus "grove, sacred grove, wood," Lithuanian laukas "open field, land"), from root *leuk- "to shine, be bright." The dative form is the source of many of the English surnames Lee, Leigh.
1530s, "to windward," from a- (1) "on" + Middle English loof "windward direction," which is probably from Dutch loef (Middle Dutch lof) "the weather side of a ship" (see luff (n.)).
Originally in nautical orders to keep the ship's head to the wind, and thus stay clear of a lee-shore or some other quarter; hence "at a distance but within view" (1530s) and, figuratively, "apart, withdrawn, without community spirit" (with verbs stand, keep, etc.). As an adjective from c. 1600. Related: Aloofly; aloofness.
obsolete except in lukewarm (late 14c.), from Middle English leuk "tepid" (c. 1200), a word of uncertain origin, perhaps from an unrecorded Old English *hleoc (cognate with Middle Dutch or Old Frisian leuk "tepid, weak"), an unexplained variant of hleowe (adv.) "warm," from Proto-Germanic *khlewaz (see lee), or from the Middle Dutch or Old Frisian words.
Old English also had wlæc "tepid, lukewarm," which survived in Middle English as wlake. In Middle English lew-warm was a parallel form to luke-warm. Related: Lukely; lukeness. Other now-obsolete formations were luke-hot (late 14c.), luke-hearted (c. 1500).
c. 1400, "a sieve, a kitchen device;" by mid-15c. in the general sense of "one who or which shakes," agent noun from shake (v.).
From 1640s it was applied (with capital initial) to Christian sects whose devotional exercises gave some participants enthusiastic convulsions (compare Quaker). The best-known among the sects, originally followers of Mother Ann Lee but later based in America, were so called from 1784. The adjective with reference to furniture styles associated with these Shakers is recorded from 1866.
The meaning "container for mixing cocktails, etc." is recorded from 1868 (ancient Greek had seison as the name of a kind of vase, literally "shaker"). Related: Shakeress; Shakerism.