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[les-uh n] /ˈlɛs ən/
a section into which a course of study is divided, especially a single, continuous session of formal instruction in a subject:
The manual was broken down into 50 lessons.
a part of a book, an exercise, etc., that is assigned to a student for study:
The lesson for today is on page 22. He worked assiduously at his music lesson.
something to be learned or studied:
the lessons of the past.
a useful piece of practical wisdom acquired by experience or study:
That accident certainly taught him a lesson in careful driving.
something from which a person learns or should learn; an instructive example:
Her faith should serve as a lesson to all of us.
a reproof or punishment intended to teach one better ways.
a portion of Scripture or other sacred writing read or appointed to be read at a divine service; lection; pericope.
verb (used with object)
to teach; instruct; give a lesson to.
to admonish or reprove.
Origin of lesson
1175-1225; Middle English lesso(u)n < Old French leçon < Latin lēctiōn- (stem of lēctiō) lection
Can be confused
lessen, lesson. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for lesson
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • It may be that Sir John will live; if so I hope that he may profit by this lesson.

    The Sea-Hawk Raphael Sabatini
  • You'd better not tell him so, or he might give you a lesson in politeness.

    Brave and Bold Horatio Alger
  • Yes, it will serve him right,” replied Mrs Seagrave; “and be a lesson to him.

    Masterman Ready Captain Frederick Marryat
  • He had learned his lesson of experience, and profited thereby.

    A Night Out Edward Peple
  • Stella, I have learned this one lesson, that I am not in it, for it is He that is doing it all.

    A California Girl Edward Eldridge
British Dictionary definitions for lesson


  1. a unit, or single period of instruction in a subject; class: an hour-long music lesson
  2. the content of such a unit
material assigned for individual study
something from which useful knowledge or principles can be learned; example
the principles, knowledge, etc, gained
a reprimand or punishment intended to correct
a portion of Scripture appointed to be read at divine service
(transitive) (rare) to censure or punish
Word Origin
C13: from Old French leçon, from Latin lēctiō, from legere to read
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 lesson

early 13c., "a reading aloud from the Bible," also "something to be learned by a student," from Old French leçon, from Latin lectionem (nominative lectio) "a reading," noun of action from past participle stem of legere "to read" (see lecture (n.)). Transferred sense of "an occurrence from which something can be learned" is from 1580s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with lesson
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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