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See also: Lethe and Léthé



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Etymology 1[edit]

From Latin Lēthē, from Ancient Greek Λήθη (Lḗthē, forgetfulness).


lethe (usually uncountable, plural lethes)

  1. Forgetfulness of the past; oblivion.
  2. Dissimulation
    • c. 1606–1607, William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Anthonie and Cleopatra”, 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 II, scene vii], page 351:
      Till that the conquering Wine hath ſteep't our ſenſe, / In ſoft and delicate Lethe.
    • 1980, Joseph J. Kockelmans, On Heidegger and Language, Northwestern University Press (→ISBN), p. 241:
      What does it mean to say that the stream of silence originates in lethe? It means, above all, that the stream has its source (Quelle) in that which has not yet been said and which must remain unsaid: the "unsaid."

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

Possibly influenced by Latin lētum (killing).


lethe (usually uncountable, plural lethes)

  1. (obsolete, rare) Death.


Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
(See the entry for lethe in
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.)


Middle English[edit]


lethe (plural lethes)

  1. Alternative form of lyth

Old Irish[edit]



  1. Alternative spelling of leithe


Old Irish mutation
Radical Lenition Nasalization
also llethe after a proclitic
pronounced with /l(ʲ)-/
Note: Some of these forms may be hypothetical. Not every
possible mutated form of every word actually occurs.