"one who inherits, or has right of inheritance in, the property of another," c. 1300, from Anglo-French heir, Old French oir "heir, successor; heritage, inheritance," from Latin heredem (nominative heres) "heir, heiress" (see heredity). Heir apparent (late 14c.) has the French order of noun-adjective, though it was not originally so written in English. It is the heir of one still alive whose right is clear. After death the heir apparent becomes the heir-at-law. Related: Heir-apparency.
word-forming element meaning "lacking, cannot be, does not," from Old English -leas, from leas "free (from), devoid (of), false, feigned," from Proto-Germanic *lausaz (cognates: Dutch -loos, German -los "-less," Old Norse lauss "loose, free, vacant, dissolute," Middle Dutch los, German los "loose, free," Gothic laus "empty, vain"), from PIE root *leu- "to loosen, divide, cut apart." Related to loose and lease.