Phono-semantic compound (形聲): semantic 亻 + phonetic 老 (OC *ruːʔ).
Found in certain southern dialects (chiefly Cantonese) as the colloquial word for “man” (for example, in the term 肥佬). Probably related to Zhuang raeuz ~ laeuz (“we; also a demonym: Rau peoples”), a widespread Tai word meaning “we; people” (Proto-Tai *rawᴬ).
Guangdong Xinyu  has the following passage:
- People in Guangzhou call “common people” lau or leu (derogatory).
Also compare Proto-Hmong *ʔljuwᴮ (“male”) (White Hmong lau (“male”)), Proto-Katuic *-law (“man”), as well as Lao ລາວ (lāo, “Lao < people”), Thai ลาว (laao).
- (Standard Cantonese, Guangzhou)+
- Jyutping: lou2, lou5, liu4
- Yale: lóu, lóuh, lìuh
- Cantonese Pinyin: lou2, lou5, liu4
- Guangdong Romanization: lou2, lou5, liu4
- IPA (key): /lou̯³⁵/, /lou̯¹³/, /liːu̯²¹/
- lou2 - usual pronunciation;
- lou5, liu4 - only used in 仡佬.
- (chiefly Cantonese, dialectal Wu) man; person; guy; fellow; chap
- (chiefly Cantonese) vulgar person; hillbilly
― hick; villager
Mainly used as a colloquial suffix to denote “-er”.