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  1. a den or resting place of a wild animal: The cougar retired to its lair.
  2. a secluded or hidden place, especially a secret retreat or base of operations; a hideout or hideaway: a pirate's lair.
  3. British. a place in which to lie or rest; a bed.
verb (used with object)
  1. to place in a lair.
  2. to serve as a lair for.
verb (used without object)
  1. to go to, lie in, or have a lair.

Origin of lair1

before 900; Middle English leir, Old English leger; cognate with Dutch, Old High German leger bed, camp; akin to lie2


  1. British Dialect. mud; mire.
verb (used without object)
  1. Scot. to sink or stick in mud or mire.

Origin of lair2

1250–1300; v. use of Middle English lair clay, mire < Old Norse leir clay, loam


noun Chiefly Scot.
  1. lore; learning.

Origin of lair3

Middle English (north and Scots) lare, Old English lār lore1


noun Australian Informal.
  1. a man who dresses garishly and is crude or vulgar; showoff.

Origin of lair4

First recorded in 1930–35; back formation from lairy
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for lair

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • It is used by their prickers and huntsmen when the beast hath not fled, but is still in its lair.

    The White Company

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • Saying no word, out of his lair he came with that terrible sword of his aloft.

    Fair Margaret

    H. Rider Haggard

  • The Huron arose, and shook himself like a lion quitting his lair.

    The Last of the Mohicans

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • Nothing would do, but to go up into his lair, and drag him out.

    Welsh Fairy Tales

    William Elliott Griffis

  • It tried hard to crawl into its lair, or slip into the lake.

    Welsh Fairy Tales

    William Elliott Griffis

British Dictionary definitions for lair


  1. the resting place of a wild animal
  2. informal a place of seclusion or hiding
  3. an enclosure or shed for farm animals
  4. Scot the ground for a grave in a cemetery
  1. (intr) (esp of a wild animal) to retreat to or rest in a lair
  2. (tr) to drive or place (an animal) in a lair

Word Origin

Old English leger; related to lie ² and Old High German leger bed


noun, verb
  1. a Scot word for mire

Word Origin

from Old Norse leir mud


  1. a flashy man who shows off
  1. (intr; foll by up or around) to behave or dress like a lair

Word Origin

perhaps from leer
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

Word Origin and History for lair


Old English leger "bed, couch, grave; act or place of lying down," from Proto-Germanic *legraz (cf. Old Norse legr "grave," also "nuptials" ("a lying down"); Old Frisian leger "situation," Old Saxon legar "bed," Middle Dutch legher "act or place of lying down," Dutch leger "bed, camp," Old High German legar "bed, a lying down," German Lager "bed, lair, camp, storehouse," Gothic ligrs "place of lying"), from PIE *legh- "to lie, lay" (see lie (v.2)). Meaning "animal's den" is from early 15c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper