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[leys] /leɪs/
a netlike ornamental fabric made of threads by hand or machine.
a cord or string for holding or drawing together, as when passed through holes in opposite edges.
ornamental cord or braid, especially of gold or silver, used to decorate uniforms, hats, etc.
a small amount of alcoholic liquor or other substance added to food or drink.
verb (used with object), laced, lacing.
to fasten, draw together, or compress by or as if by means of a lace.
to pass (a cord, leather strip, etc.), as through holes.
to interlace or intertwine.
to adorn or trim with lace.
to add a small amount of alcoholic liquor or other substance to (food or drink):
He took his coffee laced with brandy.
to lash, beat, or thrash.
to compress the waist of (a person) by drawing tight the laces of a corset, or the like.
to mark or streak, as with color.
verb (used without object), laced, lacing.
to be fastened with a lace:
These shoes lace up the side.
to attack physically or verbally (often followed by into):
The teacher laced into his students.
Origin of lace
1175-1225; (noun) Middle English las < Old French laz, lasLatin laqueus noose; (v.) Middle English lasen < Middle French lacier, lasser, lachier (French lacer) ≪ Latin laqueāre to enclose in a noose, trap
Related forms
lacelike, adjective
lacer, noun
relace, verb, relaced, relacing.
well-laced, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for lace
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • She pretended to be a cleaner and mender of lace, but she sold a good many other things.

    The Dream Emile Zola
  • She was paying minute attention to the lace insertion of her skirt.

    The Fortune Hunter Louis Joseph Vance
  • On closing the door after her the lace bed-curtains had probably caught fire.

    My Double Life Sarah Bernhardt
  • Jennie shook out the lace fringes of her parasol; and smoothed them with some precision.

    A Woman Intervenes Robert Barr
  • I could see nothing but the pattern of the Brussels lace as she drew back.

    The Room in the Dragon Volant J. Sheridan LeFanu
British Dictionary definitions for lace


a delicate decorative fabric made from cotton, silk, etc, woven in an open web of different symmetrical patterns and figures
a cord or string drawn through holes or eyelets or around hooks to fasten a shoe or garment
ornamental braid often used on military uniforms, etc
a dash of spirits added to a beverage
to fasten (shoes, etc) with a lace
(transitive) to draw (a cord or thread) through holes, eyes, etc, as when tying shoes
(transitive) to compress the waist of (someone), as with a corset
(transitive) to add a small amount of alcohol or drugs to (food or drink)
(transitive; usually passive) and foll by with. to streak or mark with lines or colours: the sky was laced with red
(transitive) to intertwine; interlace
(transitive) (informal) to give a sound beating to
See also lace into, lace up
Derived Forms
lacelike, adjective
lacer, noun
Word Origin
C13 las, from Old French laz, from Latin laqueus noose
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for lace

early 13c., laz, "cord made of braided or interwoven strands of silk, etc.," from Old French laz "a net, noose, string, cord, snare" (Modern French lacs), from Vulgar Latin *lacium, from Latin laqueum (nominative laqueus) "noose, snare" (Italian laccio, Spanish lazo), a trapping and hunting term, probably from Italic base *laq- "to ensnare" (cf. Latin lacere "to entice"). Later also "net, noose, snare" (c.1300); "piece of cord used to draw together the edges of slits or openings in an article of clothing" (late 14c.). The "ornamental net pattern" meaning is first recorded 1550s. Sense of "cord for tying" remains in shoelace. As an adjective, lace-curtain "middle class" (or lower-class with middle-class pretensions) usually is used in reference to Irish-Americans, by 1928.


c.1200, "fasten (clothing, etc.) with laces and ties;" see lace (n.). Also "tighten (a garment) by pulling its laces" (early 14c.). To lace coffee, etc., with a dash of liquor (1670s) originally was used of sugar, and comes via the notion of "to ornament or trim." Related: Laced; lacing. Laced mutton was "an old word for a whore" [Johnson].

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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