lest

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See also: 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]

Conjunction[edit]

lest

  1. (Can we clean up(+) this sense?) For fear that; that [] not; in order that [] not; in case.
    • 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, 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.
    He won't go outside, lest he be eaten by those ravenous eagles.
  2. That (without the negative particle); – after certain expressions denoting fear or apprehension.
    • 1868, Anthony Trollope, He Knew He Was Right XI
      ‘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.’
    • 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]

The word lest is always followed by the subjunctive mood, usually in either the present or future tense.

For example: Lest they be captured, the soldiers fled from the battlefield.

The future subjunctive would simply employ the auxiliary word should.

Synonyms[edit]

  • (for fear that): before (informal)

Translations[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ lest” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary, 2001–2018.

Anagrams[edit]


Czech[edit]

Etymology[edit]

EB1911 - Volume 01 - Page 001 - 1.svg This entry lacks etymological information. If you are familiar with the origin of this term, please add it to the page per etymology instructions. You can also discuss it at the Etymology scriptorium.

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

lest f

  1. trick, ruse
  2. stratagem

Declension[edit]

Derived terms[edit]

Anagrams[edit]


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

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]

Verb[edit]

lest

  1. past participle of lese