louse

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English[edit]

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Etymology[edit]

From Middle English lous, lows, lowse, from Old English lūs, from Proto-Germanic *lūs (compare West Frisian lûs, Dutch luis, German Low German Luus, German Laus, from Proto-Indo-European *lewH- (compare Welsh llau (lice), Tocharian B luwo, maybe Sanskrit यूका (yūkā)).

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

louse (plural lice or louses)

  1. A small parasitic wingless insect of the order Phthiraptera.
  2. (colloquial, dated, not usually used in plural form) A contemptible person; one who is deceitful or causes harm.
    • 1946, Joseph Thompson Shaw, The hard-boiled omnibus: early stories from Black Mask (page 388)
      He said: "Thanks, friend; but you're wasting your time. You better warn Crocker. If that louse makes a play for me, he'll get hit with Chicago lightning!"
    • 1949, Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend (song)
      It's then that those louses go back to their spouses. Diamonds are a girl's best friend.

Usage notes[edit]

  • When used as a term of abuse, the plural is typically louses, though lice is also possible.

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Verb[edit]

louse (third-person singular simple present louses, present participle lousing, simple past and past participle loused)

  1. To remove lice from.

Synonyms[edit]

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Middle English[edit]

Noun[edit]

louse

  1. Alternative form of lous