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[leer] /lɪər/
verb (used without object)
to look with a sideways or oblique glance, especially suggestive of lascivious interest or sly and malicious intention:
I can't concentrate with you leering at me.
a lascivious or sly look.
Origin of leer1
1520-30; perhaps v. use of obsolete leer cheek (Middle English leor, Old English hlēor; cognate with Old Norse hlȳr (plural))
Related forms
leeringly, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for leering
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Suddenly she thrust the severed head she carried into the face of Kwaiba, leering horribly at him the while.

    The Yotsuya Kwaidan or O'Iwa Inari James S. De Benneville
  • He spun round in his amazement and met the leering face of Ayoub.

    The Sea-Hawk Raphael Sabatini
  • There was no leering and hideous grinning at us, however, as the rider's head had been blown clean away by a Boer shell.

  • I have stirred up ghosts of the past—leering ghosts, and I hate them.

    Possessed Cleveland Moffett
  • The two girls were safe for the hour, and must endure the leering of four tipsy scoundrels.

    The Day of Wrath Louis Tracy
  • Look how he keeps on licking his lips and leering at us now and then.

    In the Mahdi's Grasp George Manville Fenn
British Dictionary definitions for leering


(intransitive) to give an oblique, sneering, or suggestive look or grin
such a look
Derived Forms
leering, adjective, noun
leeringly, adverb
Word Origin
C16: perhaps verbal use of obsolete leer cheek, from Old English hlēor
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for leering



"to look obliquely" (now usually implying "with a lustful or malicious intent"), 1520s, probably from Middle English noun ler "cheek," from Old English hleor "the cheek, the face," from Proto-Germanic *khleuzas "near the ear," from *kleuso- "ear," from PIE root *kleu- "to hear" (see listen). The notion is probably of "looking askance" (cf. figurative development of cheek). Related: Leered; leering.


1590s, from leer (v).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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