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Leprous lesions (sense 1) on the thigh of a person with leprosy.


From Middle English leprous (having leprosy or a skin disease with symptoms like leprosy; (alchemy) of metals or minerals: impure; a leper) [and other forms],[1] from Anglo-Norman leprous, lepros [and other forms], Middle French lepros, lepreux, and Old French leprous, lepros (having leprosy; a leper) (modern French lépreux), and from their etymon Late Latin leprosus (having leprosy; (alchemy) of metals: impure; a leper), from Latin lepra (leprosy) + -ōsus (suffix meaning ‘full of; overly; prone to’ forming adjectives from nouns).[2] Lepra is derived from Ancient Greek λέπρᾱ (léprā, leprosy), from λεπῐ́ς (lepís, flake, scale; epithelial debris) (perhaps from λέπω (lépō, to peel, strip off a husk or rind) + -ῐς (-is, suffix forming feminine nouns)) + -ᾱ (, suffix forming action nouns from verbs).



leprous (comparative more leprous, superlative most leprous)

  1. Relating to or infected with one of the diseases known as leprosy.
    Synonyms: (rare) lepric, leproid, (archaic) leprosed, leprosied, lazar, lazarlike
    • 1611, The Holy Bible, [] (King James Version), London: [] Robert Barker, [], →OCLC, Exodus 4:6:
      And the Lord said furthermore unto him, Put now thine hand into thy bosom. And he put his hand into his bosom: and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous as snow.
    • 1611, The Holy Bible, [] (King James Version), London: [] Robert Barker, [], →OCLC, Numbers 12:10:
      And the cloud departed from off the tabernacle; and, behold, Miriam became leprous, white as snow: and Aaron looked upon Miriam, and, behold, she was leprous.
    • 1748, Philip Luckombe, A Tour Through Ireland, London: T. Lowndes & Son, 1783, Journey the Fourth, p. 324,[1]
      [] a dissenting minister [] came to this well, over-run with leprous eruptions on the skin, which had rendered his joints so rigid, that he could neither hold his bridle, nor feed himself []
    • 1880, Lew Wallace, Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ[2], Book Six, Chapter 1:
      ‘If they die,’ he said, ‘the cell shall be their tomb. They were put there to die, and be lost. The cell is leprous. Do you understand?’
    • 1882, Oscar Wilde, “The English Renaissance of Art”, in Essays and Lectures[3], 4th edition, London: Methuen & Co., published 1913:
      Nor shall the art which you and I need be merely a purple robe woven by a slave and thrown over the whitened body of some leprous king to adorn or to conceal the sin of his luxury, but rather shall it be the noble and beautiful expression of a people’s noble and beautiful life.
  2. Similar to leprosy or its symptoms.
    Synonym: lazarlike
  3. Having the appearance of the skin of one infected with leprosy; flaking, peeling, scabby, scurfy.
    • 1961, V. S. Naipaul, A House for Mr Biswas, Vintage International, published 2001, Prologue:
      And why, except that it had moved everywhere with them and they regarded it as one of their possessions, had they kept the hatrack, its glass now leprous, most of its hooks broken, its woodwork ugly with painting-over?
    • 1974 April 8, “Drab Cab Goes Fab”, in Time:
      With little room to maneuver or park private cars, New Yorkers are more desperately dependent on taxis than any other city dwellers in the world. And the thousands of cabs that they ride are among the world's sleaziest: cigarette butts and paper coffee cups on the floor, dirty windows, leprous upholstery, chewed gum and sticky candy wrappers on ripped seats, and jagged metal protrusions on the doors waiting to savage the clothing of entering or departing passengers.
  4. (figuratively, archaic) Immoral, or corrupted or tainted in some manner; also, ostracized, shunned.
  5. (alchemy, historical) Of gold or other metals: contaminated with other substances; impure.
  6. (botany, archaic) Synonym of leprose (covered with thin scurfy scales, scaly-looking)
  7. (obsolete) Causing leprosy or a disease resembling it.

Usage notes[edit]

Generally, the adjective leprous is used when speaking of people afflicted with the disease, its symptoms, or its transmission and leprotic is preferred when speaking of the disease itself.


Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]



  1. ^ leprǒus, adj.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007; “lepre, adj.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  2. ^ leprous, adj. and n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, December 2012; leprous, adj.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.


Old French[edit]


leprous m (oblique and nominative feminine singular leprouse)

  1. leprous; having leprosy



leprous m

  1. a leper


  • English: leprous
  • French: lépreux