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. 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.
    • 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)

See also[edit]

Translations[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ lest” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary, 2001–2017.

Anagrams[edit]


Czech[edit]

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

lest f

  1. trick, ruse
  2. stratagem

Declension[edit]

Derived terms[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]

Borrowing from Dutch last (load, burden).

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

lest m (plural lests)

  1. dead weight; ballast

Derived terms[edit]

Anagrams[edit]

Further reading[edit]


German[edit]

Pronunciation[edit]

Verb[edit]

lest

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

Icelandic[edit]

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

lest f (genitive singular lestar, nominative plural lestir)

  1. train (line of connected cars or carriages)
  2. cargo hold (place on a ship, used for storage of cargo during a voyage)
  3. train, file (Connected sequence of people or things)

Declension[edit]


Norwegian Bokmål[edit]

Verb[edit]

lest

  1. past participle of lese