From Middle English lewed, lewd, leued (unlearned, lay, lascivious), from Old English lǣwede (unlearned, ignorant, lay), of obscure origin; most likely a derivative of the past participle of lǣwan (to reveal, betray) in the sense of "exposed as being unlearned" or "easily betrayed, clueless", from Proto-Germanic *lēwijaną (to betray), from *lēwą (an opportunity, cause), from Proto-Indo-European *lēw- (to leave). Or, according to the OED, from Vulgar Latin *laigo-, from Late Latin laicus (of the people).

Cognate with Old High German gilāen, firlāen (to betray), Gothic 𐌲𐌰𐌻𐌴𐍅𐌾𐌰𐌽 (galēwjan, to give over, betray), Gothic 𐌻𐌴𐍅 (lēw, an opportunity, cause).


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ljuːd/
    • (file)
  • (US) IPA(key): /lud/
  • enPR: lo͞od


lewd (comparative lewder, superlative lewdest)

  1. Lascivious, sexually promiscuous, rude.
  2. (obsolete) Lay; not clerical.
    • 1599, John Davies, Nosce Teipsum
      So these great clerks their little wisdom show / To mock the lewd, as learn'd in this as they.
  3. (obsolete) Uneducated.
  4. (obsolete) Vulgar, common; typical of the lower orders.
  5. (obsolete) Base, vile, reprehensible.

Derived termsEdit



lewd (third-person singular simple present lewds, present participle lewding, simple past and past participle lewded)

  1. To get high on quaalude.
    • 1968, Tom Wolfe, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test:
      Babbs, after many days of glumming in his Purina Chow redoubt, strolls over, lewding out, “Hi, Je-e-e-ed!” to Kesey's three-year-old son.
    • 1973, Yardbird Reader - Volumes 1-3, page 186:
      I was just lewding around, fucking furiously, drinking and doping and daring the devil.
    • 1996, Exquisite Corpse - Issues 56-61, page 54:
      Once lewded-out. I sampled the bourbon, then somebody suggested I take five more hits.
  2. To express lust; to behave in a lewd manner.
    • 2011, Cooper, The Queen's Assassin, page 189:
      "Well then,” dropping her bathrobe, lewding her lips, “how 'bout some lovee?”
    • 2016, George Saoulidis, The Girl Who Twisted Fate's Arm:
      Now, the men could just have been watching the unusual APC running on the road, or just lewding at the women.
    • 2019, Aldious Waite, Grape Juice Enlightenment: Immortal Mind, page 14:
      Each one lusting and lewding themselves - fighting against the spirit of change.



Middle EnglishEdit



  1. Alternative form of lewed