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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Lye \Lye\, n. A falsehood. [Obs.] See Lie.


Lye \Lye\, n. (Railroad) A short side line, connected with the main line; a turn-out; a siding. [Eng.]


Lye \Lye\, n. [Written also lie and ley.] [AS. le['a]h; akin to D. loog, OHG. louga, G. lauge; cf. Icel. laug a bath, a hot spring.]

  1. A strong caustic alkaline solution of potassium salts, obtained by leaching wood ashes. It is much used in making soap, etc.

  2. (Chem.) Sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide, or a concentrated aqueous solution of either compound.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

Old English læg, leag "lye," from Proto-Germanic *laugo (cognates: Middle Dutch loghe, Dutch loog, Old High German louga, German Lauge "lye"), from PIE root *leue- "to wash" (see lave). The substance was formerly used in place of soap, hence Old High German luhhen "to wash," Old Norse laug "hot bath, hot spring," Danish lørdag, Swedish lördag "Saturday," literally "washing-day." Chamber-lye in early Modern English was the name for urine used as a detergent.


Etymology 1 n. 1 An alkaline liquid made by leaching ashes (usually wood ashes). 2 Potassium or sodium hydroxide. vb. (obsolete spelling of lie English) Etymology 2

n. (context UK railways English) A short side line, connected with the main line; a turn-out; a siding.


n. a strong solution of sodium or potassium hydroxide


A lye is a liquid obtained by leaching ashes (containing largely potassium carbonate or "potash"), or a strong alkali which is highly soluble in water producing caustic basic solutions. "Lye" is commonly the alternative name of sodium hydroxide (NaOH) or historically potassium hydroxide (KOH).

Today, sodium hydroxide is commercially manufactured using a membrane cell chloralkali process. It is one of the highest-volume industrial chemicals with worldwide annual production of 45 million tons in 1998. It is supplied in various forms such as flakes, pellets, microbeads, coarse powder or a solution.

Lye (disambiguation)

Lye is a caustic chemical.

Lye may also refer to:

  • Lye, West Midlands, a small town in England
  • Lye, Indre, a commune of the Indre département in France
  • Lye railway station, in England whose National Rail station code is also LYE
  • RAF Lyneham, a Royal Air Force station in Wiltshire, England whose IATA code is LYE
  • Lye, a character in Catheryne Valente's " Fairyland series"


  • Edward Lye, a scholar
  • Graham Lye, Australian rugby league footballer
  • Len Lye, a New Zealand-born artist

Usage examples of "lye".

His soap had hardly stiffened afore it ran right back to lye and grease agin.

Chemicals, but it did not consume much space: the salt, the agar, a small box of lye, six ounces of absolute alcohol and four of formalin.

In the end she promised a great reward to my keeper for the custody of me one night, who for gaine of a little money accorded to her desire, and when I had supped in a Parler with my Master, we departed away and went into our Chamber, where we found the faire Matron, who had tarried a great space for our comming : I am not able to recite unto you how all things were prepared : there were foure Eunuches that lay on a bed of downe on the ground with Boulsters accordingly for us to lye on, the Coverlet was of cloth of Gold, and the pillowes soft and tender, whereon the delicate Matron had accustomed to lay her head.

Young Graig Lye, cousin to Bludd-slain Banron, buckled his sword harness so ferociously he struck sparks.

Howbeit for all their lyes and cavellations, they were carryed backe unto the towne, and put in prison by the Inhabitants, who taking the cup of gold, and the goddesse which I bare, did put and consecrate them amongst the treasure of the temple.

A group of new-sworn yearmen, Perches and Murdocks and Lyes, was sitting against the stairwall disassembling their gear belts and scabbards for cleaning.

Well, said he, since my life lyes in my learning, I will learn for my life, which he did so well, that he got in that twelve month their language, so perfect as he understood, and could speak most of it, in which time he understood all that I have delivered to the Reader, and besides understood that they had many Gods, and Goddesses.

After that I hadde receaved my dispache and leave fram your Majestie wherby you did of your Royall goodnes geave and graunt unto mee to be cheefe commaundere of al the warlyke foarces furneshed and sent by you into Daemonlond, hit may please your Majestie I did with haiste carry mine armie and all wepons municions vittualls and othere provicions accordingly toward those partes of Daemonlonde that lye coasted against the estern seas.

The wheeles, aboue the naues and axeltrees, were closed within the Chariot, and the sides thereof vnder the Harpies feete, bent somewhat vpward and growing lesser, turned rounde downward, wherevnto the furniture or trace to drawe it by, were fastned: and where the axeltree was, there vpon the side of the bottom of the Charriot, ouer the naue of the wheele, there came downe a prepention ioyning to the Plynth, twise so long as deepe, of two foliatures, one extending one way and the other an other way: and vpon the middle thereof and lowest part, was a Rose of fiue leaues, in the seede whereof, the ende of the axeltree did lye.

He had become entirely distracted by the text before him, which happened to be taxidermy, while the copy-cat continued to extrude copies of the crewel lye recipe.

The first is unsanctioned government intervention, which means nobody can know anything because anybody who does, official and otherwise, could end up in Leavenworth or in a lye pit.

The water that drips out contains sodium hydroxide, lye, which is a stronger cleanser.

Neyther did it refuse or make resistance to anye sharpe and newe assaulte of loue, which in my stroken and sore wounded heart woulde lye festering and feeding of himselfe.

The cabin smelt of hot food and lye soap, with a clean, faint tang of juniper overlaying the smoke of reed candles and the muskier scents of human occupation.

Left behind the empty lots filled with malt liquor bottles, left behind the storefront tabernacles, the faded, weather-battered posters for Red Devil lye, which black men had used to conk their hair straight in the Malcolm X era, left behind the teenage rapper wannabees and bucket percussion ensembles in Marcus Garvey Park, the stands selling toys and sandals and bling and kente-cloth wall hangings.