Words related to leper

leprosy (n.)

name given to various chronic skin diseases, later in more restricted use, 1530s, probably from leprous + -y (4). First used in Coverdale Bible, where it renders Hebrew cara'ath, which apparently was a comprehensive term for skin diseases. Also known as Hansen's disease (1938) for Norwegian physician Gerhard Henrik Armauer Hansen (1841-1912) who in 1871 discovered the bacillus that causes it.

The Middle English name for the disease was leper (mid-13c.), from Old French liepre and Latin lepra (see leper). But as the sense of this shifted after late 14c. to mean "person with leprosy," English began coining new nouns for the disease: lepri, leprosity, lepruse all date from mid-15c. but are now obsolete. A place for their treatment is a leprosarium (1846) or leprosary (1869, from French).

laparoscopy (n.)

1855, from -scopy + combining form of Greek lapara "flank, loins, soft part of the body between the ribs and the hips," from laparos "soft, slack, loose," from PIE *lap-aro-, suffixed form of root *lep- (1) "to peel" (see leper). Related: Laparoscopic; laparoscope.


before vowels lepid-, word-forming element used since late 18c. in science with a sense of "scale" (of a fish, etc.), combining form of Greek lepis (genitive lepidos) "scale of a fish" (related to lepein "to peel;" see leper). As in lepidodendron (1819 in German), common fossil "club-moss tree" of the Carboniferous.

leprophilia (n.)

"strong abnormal attraction to people with leprosy," 1959 (Graham Greene), from combining form of leper (q.v.) + -philia. Related: Leprophil. Leprophobia is from 1888.

leprous (adj.)

"infected with leprosy," early 13c., leprus, from Old French lepros (Modern French lépreux), from Late Latin leprosus, from Latin lepra "leprosy" (see leper).

lepton (n.)

elementary particle of small mass, 1948, from Greek leptos "small, slight, slender, delicate, subtle," literally "peeled," or "threshed out" (from lepein "to peel," from PIE *lep- (1), a root which yields words for "peel" as well as "small shaving, scale (of a fish)," hence used of things fine, delicate, or weak; see leper) + -on. In Greek it was the name of a small coin, from neuter of leptos. Related: Leptonic.