: not reputable or decent

Did you know?

Louche ultimately comes from the Latin word luscus, meaning "blind in one eye" or "having poor sight." This Latin term gave rise to the French louche, meaning "squinting" or "cross-eyed." The French gave their term a figurative sense as well, taking that squinty look to mean "shady" or "devious." English speakers didn't see the need for the sight-impaired uses when they borrowed the term in the 19th century, but they kept the figurative one. The word is still quite visible today and is used to describe both people and things of questionable repute.

Examples of louche in a Sentence

it was a seedy neighborhood of louche nightclubs
Recent Examples on the Web Here, the anxieties of the past all hang together in louche reconciliation. Christina Catherine Martinez, Los Angeles Times, 30 Jan. 2023 So an ocean of booze (with its attendant narcotics, violence and human trafficking) flows every evening on the louche fringes of Soho. Dallas News, 22 Sep. 2022 Berlin, where painters and photographers like Christian Schad and Otto Dix made a virtue of hard surfaces and louche life. Jason Farago, New York Times, 8 Sep. 2022 Wryly titled Happiness Not Included, Soft Cell’s new set mirrors the mix of darkly sardonic lyrics and electro-minimalist music that made their 1981 debut album, Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret, a louche classic. Jim Farber, Vulture, 5 May 2022 The American sportswear portion of the proposition comes alive in pieces like an oversized double sleeved striped button down, a louche pair of painter jeans, or a track jacket reimagined in Italian denim. José Criales-Unzueta, Vogue, 21 Oct. 2022 For those who would have liked to imagine Rimbaud as a reporter, the louche French poet Michaux might make the perfect guide to the East in the thirties. Cnt Editors, Condé Nast Traveler, 16 June 2022 The louche duke and his band of bullies, the soulless assassin Sparafucile and his grim sister Maddalena, even the soppily self-sacrificing Gilda, all see Rigoletto as a sad figure practically asking to be crushed. Vulture, 21 Jan. 2022 Wearing what can best be described as discoball coords, Rih delivered a masterclass in the louche way to do December dressing. Alice Newbold, Glamour, 2 Dec. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'louche.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


French, literally, cross-eyed, squint-eyed, from Latin luscus blind in one eye

First Known Use

1819, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of louche was in 1819


Dictionary Entries Near louche

Cite this Entry

“Louche.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/louche. Accessed 23 Sep. 2023.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!