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See also: lemán, Leman, and Léman


Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle English lemman, variant of leofman, from Old English *lēofmann ("lover; sweetheart"; attested as a personal name), equivalent to lief +‎ man ("beloved person").



leman (plural lemans)

  1. (archaic) One beloved; a lover, a sweetheart of either sex (especially a secret lover, gallant, or mistress).
    • 1485, Sir Thomas Malory, chapter v, in Le Morte Darthur, book VI:
      Thenne within an houre there came the knyghte to whome the pauelione ought / And he wende that his lemā had layne in that bedde / and soo he laid hym doune besyde syr Launcelot / and toke hym in his armes and beganne to kysse hym / And whanne syre launcelot felte a rough berd kyssyng hym / he starte oute of the bedde lyghtely / and the other knyȝt after hym / and eyther of hem gate their swerdes in theire handes
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, I.i:
      Faire Venus seemde vnto his bed to bring / Her, whom he waking euermore did weene, / To be the chastest flowre, that ay did spring / On earthly braunch, the daughter of a king, / Now a loose Leman to vile seruice bound [].
    • 1819, Walter Scott, Ivanhoe:
      The prisoner I speak of is better booty—a jolly monk riding to visit his leman, an I may judge by his horse-gear and wearing apparel.
  2. (often negative) A paramour.
    • 1387 to 1400 Geoffrey Chaucer, Canterbury Tales, "The Manciple's Tale":
      Ther nys no difference, trewely,
      Bitwixe a wyf that is of heigh degree,
      If of hir body dishonest she bee,
      And a povre wenche, oother than thisֵ—
      If it so be they werke bothe amys—
      But that the gentile, in estaat above,
      She shal be cleped his lady, as in love;
      And for that oother is a povre womman,
      She shal be cleped his wenche or his lemman []
    • 1932, Lewis Grassic Gibbon, Sunset Song:
      And he sent the news to William the Lyon, sitting drinking the wine and fondling his bonny lemans in Edinburgh Town, and William made him the Knight of Kinraddie [].