Definition of louse in English:

louse

Syllabification: louse

noun

Pronunciation: /lous
 
/
  • 1 (plural lice /līs/) A small, wingless, parasitic insect that lives on the skin of mammals and birds.
    • (sucking louse) an insect with piercing mouthparts, found only on mammals (order Anoplura or Siphunculata). See also body louse, head louse (biting louse) an insect with a large head and jaws, found chiefly on birds (order Mallophaga).
    More example sentences
    • Head lice are insects living on the human scalp and feeding on blood.
    • Head lice are insects that live on the scalp and neck.
    • Presumably mineral oil is acting like petroleum jelly to smother the live lice and loosen nits.
  • 1.1Used in names of small invertebrates that parasitize aquatic animals or infest plants, e.g., fish louse.
    More example sentences
    • Sea spiders and sea lice have a cavity of body fluid as salty as the sea itself.
    • They are also hosts to a number of blood parasites and feather lice.
    • Sea trout numbers collapsed in 1989 with many sea trout caught in the net heavily infested with sea lice.
  • 2 (plural louses) informal A contemptible or unpleasant person.
    More example sentences
    • Since his original plan of using leftover roach motels now seems impractical, Jack must devise a better means of sending these unlicensed louses back to where they belong.
    • His characters were cads, letches, and leering louses, but they effectively tapped a bit of that inappropriate urge in us all.
    • All of these characters - if we can indeed call them that - are despicable louses that lie, cheat, and backstab each other in the name of comedy and TV ratings.

verb

[with object] Back to top  
  • 1 (louse something up) • informal Spoil or ruin something: he loused up my promotion chances
    More example sentences
    • Your summer has been a colossal mess, but other folks have been lousing things up, too.
    • Rebecca has an unerring ear for the ways mismatched people relate, an open heart for the ways they louse things up.
    • They then took this cleaner to their design team who loused it up for probably for more money!
  • 2 archaic Remove lice from.
    More example sentences
    • They were lousing each other; and it surprised us that they did not discontinue their work + as we entered.
    • When the girl and the lion first appear in the tale we are told that she is lousing him, which illustrates the bond between them.
    • The grandmother began lousing him again and soon he was asleep and snoring loud enough to rattle the windows.

Origin

Old English lūs, (plural) lȳs, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch luis, German Laus.

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