c. 1200, contracted from Middle English les te (“less that”), from Old English þy læs þe (“whereby less that”), from þy (instrumental case of demonstrative article þæt “that”) + læs (“less”) + þe (“the”). The þy was dropped and the remaining two words contracted into leste.
- Rhymes: -ɛst
- (Can we clean up(+) this sense?) For fear that; that […] not; in order that […] not; in case.
- 2013 July 27, “Lunacy?”, in The Economist, volume 408, number 8846:
- Lest any astrologer reading this result get cocky, Dr Cajochen does not believe that what he has found is directly influenced by the Moon through, say, some tidal effect. What he thinks he has discovered is an additional hand on the body’s clock-face.
- He won't go outside, lest he be eaten by those ravenous eagles.
- That (without the negative particle); – after certain expressions denoting fear or apprehension.
- 1868, Anthony Trollope, He Knew He Was Right XI
- ‘That you and I should be in the same house together and not able to speak to each other is in itself a misery, but this is terribly enhanced by the dread lest this state of things should be made to continue.’
- 1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 4, in The Celebrity:
- Mr. Cooke at once began a tirade against the residents of Asquith for permitting a sandy and generally disgraceful condition of the roads. So roundly did he vituperate the inn management in particular, and with such a loud flow of words, that I trembled lest he should be heard on the veranda.
The word lest is always followed by the subjunctive mood, usually in either the present or future tense.
For example: Lest they be captured, the soldiers fled from the battlefield.
The future subjunctive would simply employ the auxiliary word should.
- (for fear that): before (informal)
- second- and third-person singular present indicative of lessen
- (archaic) plural imperative of lessen
lest m (plural lests)
- “lest” in le Trésor de la langue française informatisé (The Digitized Treasury of the French Language).
- (train, file): röð
- (railway train): járnbrautarlest
- (cargo hold): lestarrúm, vörurúm
- (ton): tonn
- (cargo, burden): byrði, farmur
- bílalest (“convoy of cars”)
- hraðlest (“high speed train”)
- járnbrautarlest (“railroad train”)
- neðanjarðarlest (“underground train”)
- rúmlest (“register ton”)
- skipalest (“convoy of ships”)
- smálest (“metric ton”)
- ulfaldalest (“convoy of camels”)
- lesta (“to load, to fill with cargo”)
- past participle of