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[leef] /lif/
gladly; willingly:
I would as lief go south as not.
adjective, Archaic.
willing; desirous.
dear; beloved; treasured.
Origin of lief
before 900; Middle English leef, Old English lēof; cognate with Dutch lief, German lieb, Old Norse ljufr, Gothic liufs; akin to love
Related forms
liefly, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for lief
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • If they had just as lief go to Belfast as anywhere else, I'll run up there.

    Little Bobtail Oliver Optic
  • Nat would as lief shoot Hebby or anyone else who trailed you.

    Penny of Top Hill Trail Belle Kanaris Maniates
  • It seemed to me then that I would as lief be shot and have done with it.

    Carette of Sark John Oxenham
  • Nevertheless, lief, the son of Eric, did not think much of his find.

    This Giddy Globe Oliver Herford
  • If there was no one on earth dependent on me I'd as lief you'd shoot me to-morrow.

    A Wounded Name Charles King
  • I—I—by Jove, I'd as lief lose my man again as let them have a hand in taking him!

    Stingaree E. W. (Ernest William) Hornung
  • I found Mahletonkwa had just as lief trade as fight, and a bit more so.

    Lone Pine R. B. (Richard Baxter) Townshend
  • But if it turned out to be my best chum I'd just as lief thump him as not.

    Fred Fenton on the Track Allen Chapman
  • I'd as lief get wet through in the open as perish with cold in this fog-laden room.

    The Winning of the Golden Spurs Percy F. Westerman
British Dictionary definitions for lief


(rare) gladly; willingly: I'd as lief go today as tomorrow
  1. ready; glad
  2. dear; beloved
Word Origin
Old English leof; related to lufu love
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 lief

Old English leof "dear, valued, beloved, pleasant;" also as a noun, "a beloved person, friend," from Proto-Germanic *leubo- (cf. Old Norse ljutr, Old Frisian liaf, Dutch lief, Old High German liob, German lieb, Gothic liufs "dear, beloved"), from PIE root *leubh- "love" (see love (n.)). As an adverb, "dearly, willingly" from c.1250. I want and I'd love to are overworked and misused to fill the hole left in the language when I would lief faded in 17c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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