\ ˈlest How to pronounce lest (audio) \

Definition of lest

: for fear that often used after an expression denoting fear or apprehensionworried lest she should be latehesitant to speak out lest he be fired

First Known Use of lest

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for lest

Middle English les the, leste, from Old English thȳ lǣs the, from thȳ (instrumental of thæt that) + lǣs + the, relative particle

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Time Traveler for lest

Time Traveler

The first known use of lest was before the 12th century

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Cite this Entry

“Lest.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lest. Accessed 15 December 2019.

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How to pronounce lest (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of lest

formal + literary
: for fear that
used when you are saying something in order to prevent something from happening
\ ˈlest How to pronounce lest (audio) \

Kids Definition of lest

: for fear that “I have to be sharp and clever, lest I go hungry.”— E. B. White, Charlotte's Web

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More from Merriam-Webster on lest

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with lest

Spanish Central: Translation of lest

Nglish: Translation of lest for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of lest for Arabic Speakers

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