also litch, lych, "body, corpse," a southern England dialectal survival of Old English lic "body, dead body, corpse," from Proto-Germanic *likow (source also of Old Frisian lik, Dutch lijk, Old High German lih, German Leiche "corpse, dead body," Old Norse lik, Danish lig, Swedish lik, Gothic leik), probably originally "form, shape," and identical with like (adj.).
Also in Old English in an expanded form lichama (Middle English licham), with hama "shape, garment, covering." This is etymologically pleonastic, but the image perhaps is of the body as the garment of the soul. The compound has a cognate in Old High German lihhinamo. A litch-gate (also lych-gate) was a roofed gate to a churchyard under which a bier is placed to await the coming of the clergyman; lich-owl "screech-owl" was so called because it was supposed to forebode death. Old English also had licburg "cemetery," lichhaemleas "incorporeal."
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