"I'd as lief be in the tightening coils of a boa constrictor as be held by that man," declared Miss Jezebel.
"I thank you for your company; but, good faith, I had as / lief have been myself alone." — William Shakespeare, As You Like It, 1599
Did You Know?
Lief began as lēof in Old English and has since appeared in many literary classics, first as an adjective and then as an adverb. It got its big break in the epic poem Beowulf as an adjective meaning "dear" or "beloved." The adverb first appeared in the 13th century, and in 1390, it was used in John Gower's collection of love stories, Confessio Amantis. Since that time, it has graced the pages of works by William Makepeace Thackeray, Alfred Lord Tennyson, and D. H. Lawrence, among others. Today, the adjective is considered to be archaic and the adverb is used much less frequently than in days of yore. It still pops up now and then, however, in the phrases "had as lief," "would as lief," "had liefer," and "would liefer."
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Test Your Vocabulary
Fill in the blanks to complete an archaic adverb meaning "in the near future" or "soon": _ re _ on _.VIEW THE ANSWER
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