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[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.
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Examples from the Web for louse
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The girl's mother in Warsaw sent the "louse soldier" the food, and he relayed it to Berlin.

    Germany in War Time Mary Ethel McAuley
  • Said the other: "I will become a louse, so as to be able to stay always in her bosom."

    Aino Folk-Tales Basil Hall Chamberlain
  • The woman has a black eye, and he is a louse—he gave her a black eye, but we must consider why did he give her a black eye.

    Warren Commission (1 of 26): Hearings Vol. I (of 15) The President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy
  • The man might be a louse, but he was also a fighting machine of first order, still.

    Police Your Planet Lester del Rey
  • There's always stuff in the way to louse up a good flight plan.

    Eight Keys to Eden Mark Irvin Clifton
  • "I too know it wasn't a louse," he answered, looking strangely at her.

    Crime and Punishment Fyodor Dostoevsky
  • Blouse—blouse—take off the 'b' 'n' she spells l-o-u-s-e, louse!

British Dictionary definitions for 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
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Word Origin and History for louse

"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
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louse in Medicine

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.
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Slang definitions & phrases for louse



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.
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