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[loh-es, les, luhs] /ˈloʊ ɛs, lɛs, lʌs/
a loamy deposit formed by wind, usually yellowish and calcareous, common in the Mississippi Valley and in Europe and Asia.
Origin of loess
Swiss German
1825-35; < German Löss < Swiss German lösch loose, slack (sch taken as a dial. equivalent of German s), akin to German lose loose
Related forms
loessial, loessal, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for loess
  • One of the highlights of the day was finding a cave that went a few meters back into the loess.
  • Soils can be alluvial, colluvial, loess-and it matters.
  • He yanks out the rest of the clump to reveal only more loess, no skin or meat.
  • loess is a silty wind deposit that was deposited during glacial times.
  • Where overlain by loess, this unit has a red dotted overlay pattern on the source map.
  • The reworked loess ranges from sandy to clayey loam of low to moderate density.
British Dictionary definitions for loess


/ˈləʊɪs; German lœs/
a light-coloured fine-grained accumulation of clay and silt particles that have been deposited by the wind
Derived Forms
loessial (ləʊˈɛsɪəl), loessal, adjective
Word Origin
C19: from German Löss, from Swiss German dialect lösch loose
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 loess

1833 (in Lyell), "unstratified deposit of loam," coined 1823 by German mineralogist Karl Cäsar von Leonhard (1779-1862) from German Löss "yellowish-gray soil," from Swiss German lösch (adj.) "loose" (cf. German los; see loose). Related: Loessial.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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loess in Science
  (lō'əs, lěs, lŭs)   
A very fine grained silt or clay, thought to have formed as the result of grinding by glaciers and to have been deposited by the wind. Most loess is believed to have originated during the Pleistocene Epoch from areas of land covered by glaciers and from desert surfaces.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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