late 14c., "action of reading, that which is read," from M.L. lectura "a reading, lecture," from L. lectus, pp. of legere "to read," originally "to gather, collect, pick out, choose" (cf. election), from PIE *leg- "to pick together, gather, collect" (cf. Gk. legein "to say, tell, speak, declare," originally, in Homer, "to pick out, select, collect, enumerate;" lexis "speech, diction;" logos "word, speech, thought, account;" L. lignum "wood, firewood," lit. that which is gathered). To read is to "pick out words." Meaning "action of reading (a lesson) aloud" is from 1520s. That of "a discourse on a given subject before an audience for purposes of instruction" is from 1530s. The verb is attested from 1580s. Related: Lecturer.