Try Our Apps


Supposedly vs. Supposably


[lahys] /laɪs/
plural of louse.


[n. lous; v. lous, louz] /n. laʊs; v. laʊs, laʊz/
noun, plural lice
[lahys] /laɪs/ (Show IPA),
for 1–3, louses for 4.
any small, wingless insect of the order Anoplura (sucking louse) parasitic on humans and other mammals and having mouthparts adapted for sucking, as Pediculus humanus (body louse or head louse) and Phthirius pubis (crab louse or pubic louse)
any insect of the order Mallophaga (bird louse, biting louse, or chewing louse) parasitic on birds and mammals, having mouthparts adapted for biting.
Slang. a contemptible person, especially an unethical one.
verb (used with object), loused, lousing.
to delouse.
Verb phrases
louse up, Slang. to spoil; botch:
Miscasting loused up the movie.
Origin of louse
before 900; 1910-15 for def 4; Middle English lous(e), luse, plural lise, lice; Old English lūs, plural lȳs; cognate with Dutch luis, German Laus, Old Norse lūs Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for lice
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • To cleanse the head from lice, rub the scalp and saturate the hair with kerosene.

    Campward Ho! Unknown
  • The sea-lion was very glad to have the lice picked out of its head.

    Aino Folk-Tales Basil Hall Chamberlain
  • They run away from them like lice from the dead, although on these the hair continues to sprout out.

    Titan: A Romance v. 1 (of 2) Jean Paul Friedrich Richter
  • The teeming cloud of insects was a pest equal to that of the lice of Egypt.

    The Wind Before the Dawn Dell H. Munger
  • It is nevertheless greatly overrun with a small kind of lice, which probably repay the injuries it inflicts elsewhere.

  • Plenty plize-money; plenty tea, lice, silk; plenty evelyting.

    Blue Jackets George Manville Fenn
British Dictionary definitions for lice


the plural of louse


noun (pl) lice (laɪs)
any wingless bloodsucking insect of the order Anoplura: includes Pediculus capitis (head louse), Pediculus corporis (body louse), and the crab louse, all of which infest man related adjective pedicular
biting louse, bird louse, any wingless insect of the order Mallophaga, such as the chicken louse: external parasites of birds and mammals with biting mouthparts
any of various similar but unrelated insects, such as the plant louse and book louse
(slang) (pl) louses. an unpleasant or mean person
verb (transitive)
to remove lice from
(foll by up) (slang) to ruin or spoil
Word Origin
Old English lūs; related to Old High German, Old Norse lūs
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for lice



"parasitic insect infecting human hair and skin," Old English lus, from Proto-Germanic *lus (cf. Old Norse lus, Middle Dutch luus, Dutch luis, Old High German lus, German Laus), from PIE *lus- "louse" (cf. Welsh lleuen "louse"). Slang meaning "obnoxious person" is from 1630s. The plural lice (Old English lys) shows effects of i-mutation. The verb meaning "to clear of lice" is from late 14c.; to louse up "ruin, botch" first attested 1934, from the literal sense (of bedding), from 1931.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
lice in Medicine

lice (līs)
Plural of louse.

louse (lous)
n. pl. lice (līs)
Any of numerous small, flat-bodied, wingless biting or sucking insects of the orders Mallophaga or Anoplura, many of which are external parasites on humans.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cite This Source
Slang definitions & phrases for lice



An obnoxious and despicable person, esp one who is devious and undependable; bastard, crumb: We kicked the dirty louse out when he said that (1633+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
Cite This Source
lice in the Bible

(Heb. kinnim), the creatures employed in the third plague sent upon Egypt (Ex. 8:16-18). They were miraculously produced from the dust of the land. "The entomologists Kirby and Spence place these minute but disgusting insects in the very front rank of those which inflict injury upon man. A terrible list of examples they have collected of the ravages of this and closely allied parasitic pests." The plague of lice is referred to in Ps. 105:31. Some have supposed that the word denotes not lice properly, but gnats. Others, with greater probability, take it to mean the "tick" which is much larger than lice.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for lice

Many English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for lice

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for lice