c. 1200, contracted from Middle English les te (“less that”), from Old English þy læs þe (“whereby less that”), from þy (instrumental case of demonstrative article þæt “that”) + læs (“less”) + þe (“the”). The þy was dropped and the remaining two words contracted into leste.
- For fear that; that not; in order that not; in case.
- Synonym: before (informal)
- He won’t go outside, lest he be eaten by those ravenous eagles.
- 1610–1611, William Shakespeare, “The Tempest”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act IV, scene i], page 15, column 2:
- I thought to haue told thee of it, but I fear'd / Leaſt I might anger thee.
- 1959, Anthony Burgess, Beds in the East (The Malayan Trilogy), published 1972, page 565:
- And then Robert Loo came out swiftly with the half-filled jar lest more be said.
- 2013 July 27, “Lunacy?”, in The Economist, volume 408, number 8846:
- Lest any astrologer reading this result get cocky, Dr Cajochen does not believe that what he has found is directly influenced by the Moon through, say, some tidal effect. What he thinks he has discovered is an additional hand on the body’s clock-face.
- After certain expressions denoting fear or apprehension: that without the negative particle.
- 1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 4, in The Celebrity:
- Mr. Cooke at once began a tirade against the residents of Asquith for permitting a sandy and generally disgraceful condition of the roads. So roundly did he vituperate the inn management in particular, and with such a loud flow of words, that I trembled lest he should be heard on the veranda.
The word lest is usually followed by a verb in the subjunctive mood in either the present or future tense.
For example: Lest they be captured, the soldiers fled from the battlefield.
- Let him attend the ceremony which commemorates the achievements of his ancestors, lest he forget.
In the future tense, when it is differentiated from the present, it usually goes with should.
- Let us get to the station early, lest we should miss our connection.
- lest in Příruční slovník jazyka českého, 1935–1957
- lest in Slovník spisovného jazyka českého, 1960–1971, 1989
- second- and third-person singular present indicative of lessen
- (archaic) plural imperative of lessen
lest m (plural lests)
- “lest” in Trésor de la langue française informatisé (The Digitized Treasury of the French Language).
- (train, file): röð
- (railway train): járnbrautarlest
- (cargo hold): lestarrúm, vörurúm
- (ton): tonn
- (cargo, burden): byrði, farmur
- bílalest (“convoy of cars”)
- hraðlest (“high speed train”)
- járnbrautarlest (“railroad train”)
- neðanjarðarlest (“underground train”)
- rúmlest (“register ton”)
- skipalest (“convoy of ships”)
- smálest (“metric ton”)
- ulfaldalest (“convoy of camels”)
- lesta (“to load, to fill with cargo”)
- past of