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[lep-er] /ˈlɛp ər/
a person who has leprosy.
a person who has been rejected or ostracized for unacceptable behavior, opinions, character, or the like; anathema; outcast.
Origin of leper
1350-1400; Middle English lepre leprosy < Latin lepra < Greek lépra, noun use of feminine of leprós scaly, akin to lépos scale, lépein to peel Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for leper
  • In his own heroic way, he refused to be the great celebrity leper.
  • Quite simply it is a leper that western corporations are desperate to keep away from in case their image is infected.
  • Researchers say that the ancient leper provides clues to how the disease spread through the human population.
  • She speaks wistfully of a long-abandoned plan to work in a leper colony, and before the end of the novel she gets her wish.
  • However the word leper carries a pejorative connotation and should no longer be used in medical texts.
British Dictionary definitions for leper


a person who has leprosy
(derogatory) a person who is ignored or despised
Usage note
Rather than talking about a leper or lepers, it is better to talk about a person with leprosy and people with leprosy
Word Origin
C14: via Late Latin from Greek lepra, noun use of lepros scaly, from lepein to peel
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 leper

"one afflicted with leprosy," late 14c., from Late Latin lepra, from Greek lepra "leprosy," from fem. of lepros (adj.) "scaly," from leops "a scale," related to lepein "to peel," from lopos "a peel," from PIE root *lep- "to peel, scale" (see leaf (n.)). Originally the word for the disease itself (mid-13c.); because of the -er ending it came to mean "person with leprosy," so leprosy was coined 16c. from adjective leprous.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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leper in Medicine

leper lep·er (lěp'ər)
One who has leprosy.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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