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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
▪ He paused, afraid lest he say too much.
▪ She pulled away from the window lest anyone see them.
The Collaborative International Dictionary

Lest \Lest\, conj. [OE. leste, fr. AS. [eth][=y] l[=ae]s [eth][=e] the less that, where [eth][=y] is the instrumental case of the definite article, and [eth][=e] is an indeclinable relative particle, that, who, which. See The, Less, a.]

  1. For fear that; that . . . not; in order that . . . not.

    Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty.
    --Prov. xx. 13.

    Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.
    --1 Cor. x. 1

  2. 2. That (without the negative particle); -- after certain expressions denoting fear or apprehension.

    I feared Lest I might anger thee.


Lest \Lest\ (l[e^]st), v. i. To listen. [Obs.]
--Chaucer. Spenser.


Lest \Lest\, a. Last; least. [Obs.]


Lest \Lest\, n. [See List to choose.] Lust; desire; pleasure. [Obs.]

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

c.1200, contracted from Middle English phrase les te "less that," from Old English phrase þy læs þe "whereby less that," from þy, instrumental case of demonstrative article þæt "that" + læs (see less) + þe "the." The þy was dropped and the remaining two words contracted into leste.


conj. For fear that; that . . . not; in order that . . . not; in case.

  1. adv. for fear that; "she tiptoed lest her mother should hear her"

  2. that (after verbs explicitly expressing fear etc.); "he worried lest he should be late"


. Lešť is a village and municipality of the Zvolen District in the Banská Bystrica Region of Slovakia.

Category:Villages and municipalities in Zvolen District

Usage examples of "lest".

This acknowledgment lies hidden in all evil, however the evil may be veiled by good and truth, which are borrowed raiment, or like wreaths of perishable flowers, put around the evil lest it appear in its nakedness.

And, lest the expense or trouble of a journey to court should discourage suitors, and make them acquiesce in the decision of the inferior judicatures, itinerant judges were afterwards established, who made their circuits throughout the kingdom, and tried all causes that were brought before them.

And though he dared not to take any steps towards his further grandeur, lest he should expose himself to the jealousy of so penetrating a prince as Henry, he still hoped that, by accumulating riches and power, and by acquiring popularity, he might in time be able to open his way to the throne.

He immediately wrote to Martha, warning her that he thought Fleischl-Marxow may have become addicted to cocaine and that she should be very careful when taking the sample he had sent her lest she did the same.

Tell me whether you are a man or an angel, for I fear lest I sin in adoring you.

He kept the aerator as low as possible, to make himself breathe great gasps that hurt his chest, but it made him dizzy, and he had to increase the oxygenation lest he faint.

He was in constant fear lest Zorzi should say something which might betray the meetings at the house of the Agnus Dei, and had often regretted that he had not been put quietly out of the way, instead of being admitted to the society.

I reluctantly infer from the war that we may not remain a nation made up solely of agriculturalists, lest in a future conflict the United States overwhelm us with their numbers and their industries.

There was some ground to hope in the first six months of the marriage, but since he has had the gout so badly there seems reason to fear lest his amorous ecstasies should have a fatal termination.

In the meantime, fearing lest Giovanni might think of sending him out at any moment, he waited till Pasquale had brought him water in the morning, and then raised the stone, as he had done before, took the box out of the earth and hid it in the cool end of the annealing oven, while he replaced the slab.

John guessed that the Anointed did, indeed, equate physical strength with ambition and power, and allowed no big strong men into positions of power lest they one day overthrow him.

Judge has in no way dealt unjustly by the appellant nor given him cause to appeal, but that the appellant is afraid lest justice should proceed against him according to his crimes.

I do not willingly enter into arithmetical explanations with an artist like you, who fears to enter my study lest she should imbibe disagreeable or anti-poetic impressions and sensations.

The very notion of power must be scrutinized lest in this ascription we be really making power identical with Essential Act, and even with Act not yet achieved.

But the Saxon was imperious, the Romans were impatient, the festival of the coronation was disturbed by the secret conflict of prerogative and freedom, and Otho commanded his sword-bearer not to stir from his person, lest he should be assaulted and murdered at the foot of the altar.