Appendix III: Word Wise




lachrymal – to do with the secretion of tears.
lachrymose – causing tears, tearful.


lacklustre – (UK)
lackluster – (US)


largesse – (recommended)
largess – (variant)


launderette – (correct)
laundrette – (disputed)


lava – from volcanoes.
larva – 
(plural larvae ) immature insect.


lay – set down, prepare.
lie – recline, rest
lie – deliberately speak an untruth.

These are probably the most notorious verbs in the English language, but the following table explains their uses.            



   Present tense              Past tense        Past  participle             Present participle

                to lay
    (to set out, prepare)


   I lay the table


    I laid the table yesterday   


   I have (had, will have) 
         laid the table


  I am (was, will be, will have been)
             laying the table

                 to lie

       (to recline, rest)


 I lie on the bed


      I lay (not laid) in bed
         all day yesterday


   I have (had, will have)
          lain in bed


    I am (was, will be, will have 
          been) lying in bed

                 to lie

           (to speak


          I lie


          I lied yesterday


      I have (had, will
          have) lied


        I am (was, will be, will
             have been) lying



lea – (literary) a field.
lee – the sheltered side of something.


lead, led.

Unlike read and spread, lead changes its spelling in the past tense: I lead the way (present tense); I led the way (past tense). The heavy metal is
spelt lead.


leaned, leant.

(See burned, burnt.)

leaped, leapt.

(See burned burnt.)


learned, learnt.

(See burned burnt.)


legitimate, legitimatise, legitimise.

As verbs for ‘make lawful’, ‘justify’ or ‘approve’, legitimate (the oldest) is still serviceable: She felt strongly that the government should legitimate the
use of cannabis
. The ungainly legitimatise has fallen into disuse, but the most common of the three now is legitimise: She felt strongly that the
government should legitimise the use of cannabis


lend, lent, loan.

In British English, the verbs are lend, lent and lending. Loan functions only as a noun. Please lend me your car (present tense); He lent me his car
(past tense); He had lent (not had loaned) me his car once before (past participle); I was grateful for the loan (noun). Only in American English is
loan a legitimate verb: Please loan me your car.


leukaemia – (UK)
leukemia – (US)


libel – a published defamatory falsehood.
slander – a spoken defamatory falsehood.


licence – (n.) James Bond had a licence to kill.
license – (v.) James Bond was licensed to kill.

American English uses license in both capacities.


licorice – (US)
liquorice – (UK)


lighted – (obsolete) He lighted a match.
lit – (current) He lit a match.

Lighted still has currency as an adjective: He found his way with a lighted match.


lightening – becoming lighter.
lightning – thunder and.


likeable – (recommended)
likable – (variant)

(See also entries on knowledgeable, movable, rateable, sizeable, unmistakable and unshakeable.)


like, such as.

Such as is formally preferred when indicating that a phenomenon is an instance of a kind: Footballers such as Ryan Giggs are among my favourites.
The alternative, Footballers like Ryan Giggs are among my favourites, seems to imply that Giggs himself is not a favourite.


liquefy – (correct)
liquify – (disputed)

Liquify appears in The Concise Oxford1 as an alternative spelling but is declared incorrect by Burchfield.2


liquor – (US colloquial) any alcoholic drink
liqueur – a sweet alcoholic drink, often taken as a digestif.


lira – (singular)
lire – (plural)



An ironic understatement in which a point is emphasised by the negation of its opposite: not bad (good); not a few (many); not surprising (obvious);
not unlikely (probable).

(See also hyperbole.)


loath – (recommended)
loth – (variant)


loc. cit. – (loco citato) ‘located in the passage already cited’.

(See abbreviations.)



The Oxford Compendium Concise Dictionary, 9th Edition, OUP, 1995.
R. W. Burchfield (ed.), The New Fowler’s Modern English Usage, Third Revised Edition, OUP, 1998.



























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