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[lad] /læd/
a boy or youth.
Informal. a familiar or affectionate term of address for a man; chap.
British Horseracing Informal. a stable boy.
Origin of lad
late Old English
1250-1300; Middle English ladde < ?; compare late Old English Ladda (nickname)
Related forms
laddish, adjective
ladhood, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for lad
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Aye, lad, and the plain things are always the hardest things to do.

    Way of the Lawless Max Brand
  • I tell you, lad, that I am all undone, like a fretted bow-string.

    The White Company Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Yet, it was capable of meaning much concerning the nature of the lad.

    Within the Law Marvin Dana
  • But a sudden unaccustomed gust of affection swirled in the breast of the lad.

    Within the Law Marvin Dana
  • Wit, lad, is a catching thing, like the itch or the sweating sickness.

    The White Company Arthur Conan Doyle
British Dictionary definitions for lad


a boy or young man
(informal) a familiar form of address for any male
a lively or dashing man or youth (esp in the phrase a bit of a lad)
a young man whose behaviour is characteristic of male adolescents, esp in being rowdy, macho, or immature
(Brit) a boy or man who looks after horses
Word Origin
C13 ladde; perhaps of Scandinavian origin
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 lad

c.1300, ladde "foot soldier," also "young male servant" (attested as a surname from late 12c.), possibly from a Scandinavian language (cf. Norwegian -ladd, in compounds for "young man"), but of obscure origin in any case. OED hazards a guess on Middle English ladde, plural of the past participle of lead (v.), thus "one who is led" (by a lord). Liberman derives it from Old Norse ladd "hose; woolen stocking." "The development must have been from 'stocking,' 'foolish youth' to 'youngster of inferior status' and (with an ameliorated meaning) to 'young fellow.'" He adds, "Words for socks, stockings, and shoes seem to have been current as terms of abuse for and nicknames of fools." Meaning "boy, youth, young man" is from mid-15c. Scottish form laddie, a term of endearment, attested from 1540s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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