1
: a strong alkaline liquor rich in potassium carbonate leached from wood ashes and used especially in making soap and for washing
broadly : a strong alkaline solution (as of sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide)
2
: a solid caustic (such as sodium hydroxide)

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Like, laundry-soaked-in-lye-soap-and-beaten-over-river-rocks-and-cranked-through-a-wringer-daily-for-several-years worn down. Carolyn Hax, Washington Post, 31 Aug. 2022 One baker rolled out the dough, made from cake flour, lye water, oil and golden syrup, then broke off pieces. Momo Chang, San Francisco Chronicle, 31 Aug. 2022 Last year, a hacker broke into the network of a water-treatment plant in Oldsmar, Fla., and changed a setting to increase the amount of lye in the water to a dangerous level. Catherine Stupp, WSJ, 26 Aug. 2022 The Northwestern scientists added PFAS molecules to a solution of lye and dimethyl sulfoxide and exposed them to temperatures of up to 248 degrees Fahrenheit. Aria Bendix, NBC News, 18 Aug. 2022 Several searches turned up human teeth, a meat grinder, a knife and 26 bottles of lye, which can be used to accelerate the breakdown of bodily tissue, according to court documents. Stephanie Pagones, Fox News, 30 July 2022 Here a workman lifts a drum from a boiling lye solution which has cleaned from it grease and dust particles, Parks’ original caption for the image which provides much more information and context about the dangerous, toxic nature of the work. Chadd Scott, Forbes, 8 June 2022 Sodium hydroxide, also known as caustic soda or lye, is one of the chemicals to be stored at the location. Phil Diehl, San Diego Union-Tribune, 5 May 2022 Pretzels get their sheen and distinct texture from being dipped in a mild lye solution before being baked. The Conversation, oregonlive, 26 Apr. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'lye.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

Etymology

Middle English, from Old English lēag; akin to Old High German louga lye, Latin lavare, lavere to wash, Greek louein

First Known Use

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of lye was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near lye

Cite this Entry

“Lye.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lye. Accessed 5 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

1
: a strong alkaline liquid obtained from wood ashes and used especially in making soap and in washing
2
: any of various strong alkaline liquids
especially : sodium hydroxide
3
: a solid compound (as caustic soda) that causes chemical burns

Medical Definition

1
: a strong alkaline liquor rich in potassium carbonate leached from wood ashes and used especially in making soap and washing
broadly : a strong alkaline solution (as of sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide)
2
: a solid caustic (as sodium hydroxide)

More from Merriam-Webster on lye

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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


Words Named After People

  • name tags
  • Namesake of the leotard, Jules Léotard had what profession?
Spell It

Hear a word and type it out. How many can you get right?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ