- any of an order (Anoplura) of small, flat, wingless insects with sucking mouthparts, parasitic on the skin or hair of humans and some other mammals; esp., the human body louse (Pediculus humanus corporis) and head louse (P. h. capitis)
- any of various arthropods that suck blood or juice from other animals or plants
- bird louse
- any of various other small insects, arachnids, and crustaceans that are not parasitic, as the book louse or wood louse
- Informal a person regarded as mean, contemptible, etc.
Origin of louseMiddle English lous from Old English lus (pl. lys), akin to German laus from Indo-European an unverified form l?s from source Welsh lleuen, Breton laouen
transitive verbloused, lous′ing
Archaic to delouse
Slang to botch; spoil; ruin
- pl. lice, Any of numerous small, flat-bodied, wingless biting or sucking insects of the order Phthiraptera, which live as external parasites on birds and mammals, including humans. The lice are sometimes classified together with the psocids in the order Psocodea.
- pl. lous·es, Slang A mean or despicable person.
transitive verbloused, lous·ing, lous·es Slang
To bungle. Often used with up : louse up a deal.
Origin of louseMiddle English from Old English lūs ; see lūs- in Indo-European roots.
(plural lice or louses)
(third-person singular simple present louses, present participle lousing, simple past and past participle loused)
- To remove lice from the body of a person or animal; to delouse.