lest

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See also: lèst and lesť

English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

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.[1]

Pronunciation[edit]

  • IPA(key): /lɛst/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɛst
  • (obsolete) IPA(key): /liːst/[2]

Conjunction[edit]

lest (formal, literary)

  1. For fear that; that not; in order to prevent something from happening; in case.
    Synonym: (informal) before
    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: [] 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.
    • 1967, Bob Dylan (music), “I Am a Lonesome Hobo”, in John Wesley Harding[1]:
      Stay free from petty jealousies / Live by no man's code / And hold your judgment for yourself / Lest you wind up on this road
    • 2013 July 27, “Lunacy?”, in The Economist[2], 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.
  2. (after certain expressions denoting fear or apprehension) that (without the negative particle; introduces the reason for an emotion.)
    There was danger lest the plan become known.
    I am afraid lest I revealed too much.
    • 1869 May, Anthony Trollope, “Lady Milborough as Ambassador”, in He Knew He Was Right, volume I, London: Strahan and Company, [], OCLC 1118026626, page 81:
      That you and I should be in the same house together and not able to speak to each other is in itself a misery, but this is terribly enhanced by the dread lest this state of things should be made to continue.
    • 1887, H. Rider Haggard, She: A History of Adventure[3]:
      [M]y ward, or rather my adopted son Leo Vincey and myself have recently passed through a real African adventure, of a nature so much more marvellous than the one which you describe, that to tell the truth I am almost ashamed to submit it to you lest you should disbelieve my tale.
    • 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.

Usage notes[edit]

  • This word has become archaic for many English speakers.
  • 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.

Translations[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Douglas Harper (2001–2021) , “lest”, in Online Etymology Dictionary.
  2. ^ Lest” in John Walker, A Critical Pronouncing Dictionary [] , London: Sold by G. G. J. and J. Robinſon, Paternoſter Row; and T. Cadell, in the Strand, 1791, →OCLC, page 325.

Anagrams[edit]


Czech[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Proto-Slavic *lьstь, from Gothic 𐌻𐌹𐍃𐍄𐍃 (lists), from Proto-Germanic *listiz.

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

lest f

  1. trick, ruse
  2. stratagem

Declension[edit]

Derived terms[edit]

Anagrams[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • lest in Příruční slovník jazyka českého, 1935–1957
  • lest in Slovník spisovného jazyka českého, 1960–1971, 1989

Dutch[edit]

Pronunciation[edit]

Verb[edit]

lest

  1. second- and third-person singular present indicative of lessen
  2. (archaic) plural imperative of lessen

French[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Borrowed from Dutch last (load, burden).

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

lest m (plural lests)

  1. dead weight; ballast

Derived terms[edit]

Further reading[edit]

Anagrams[edit]


German[edit]

Pronunciation[edit]

Verb[edit]

lest

  1. inflection of lesen:
    1. second-person plural present indicative
    2. second-person plural imperative

Hungarian[edit]

Etymology[edit]

les +‎ -t

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

lest

  1. accusative singular of les

Icelandic[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Middle Low German last.

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

lest f (genitive singular lestar, nominative plural lestir)

  1. train, file, row, line
  2. railway train
  3. cargo hold
  4. ton
  5. (obsolete) cargo, burden, load

Declension[edit]

Synonyms[edit]

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]

  • lesta (to load, to fill with cargo)

Norwegian Bokmål[edit]

Etymology 1[edit]

Pronunciation[edit]

Verb[edit]

lest

  1. supine of lese

Etymology 2[edit]

From Old Norse leistr, from Proto-Germanic *laistaz.

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

lest m (definite singular lesten, indefinite plural lester, definite plural lestene)

  1. a last (a tool in the shape of a human foot, for shaping or preserving the shape of shoes)
  2. (clothing) the foot-part of a stocking
Alternative forms[edit]
  • (non-standard since 2005) leist

Etymology 3[edit]

Pronunciation[edit]

Verb[edit]

lest (present tense lest, past tense lest)

  1. form removed with the spelling reform of 2005; superseded by less

References[edit]

Anagrams[edit]


Norwegian Nynorsk[edit]

Etymology 1[edit]

Norwegian Nynorsk Wikipedia has an article on:
Wikipedia nn

From Old Norse leistr m,[1] from Proto-Germanic *laistaz m (track, trace; footprint), from Proto-Indo-European *lóystos, from the root *leys- (to trace, track). Akin to English last, Swedish läst, and German Leisten.

Alternative forms[edit]

Noun[edit]

lest m (definite singular lesten, indefinite plural lestar, definite plural lestane)

  1. a last (a tool in the shape of a human foot, for shaping or preserving the shape of shoes)
  2. (clothing) the foot-part of a stocking
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

From Old Norse lest f, from either Old English hlæst,[2] Old Frisian hlest,[2] or Middle Low German last.[1] In any case, from Proto-Germanic *hlastuz and Doublet of last m.

Noun[edit]

lest m (definite singular lesten, indefinite plural lester or lestar, definite plural lestene or lestane)

  1. (historical) An old measure of volume, about 12 to 24 barrels.
  2. (historical) An old measure of weight, about half up until a full dozen skippund.
  3. (historical, nautical) An old unit of measure on the freight capacity of a ship.
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 3[edit]

See the etymology of the main entry.

Verb[edit]

lest

  1. past of låst

Etymology 4[edit]

From the verb leiste (to grow over).

Noun[edit]

lest m (definite singular lesten, indefinite plural lestar, definite plural lestane)

  1. straws and grasses that grow close to each other
  2. sprouting grasses and grains

References[edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 “lest” in The Nynorsk Dictionary.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Confer with (Norwegian Bokmål) “lest” in Det Norske Akademis ordbok (NAOB).

Anagrams[edit]


Romanian[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From French lest.

Noun[edit]

lest n (plural lesturi)

  1. ballast

Declension[edit]