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[leth -er] /ˈlɛð ər/
the skin of an animal, with the hair removed, prepared for use by tanning or a similar process designed to preserve it against decay and make it pliable or supple when dry.
an article made of this material.
pertaining to, made of, or resembling leather:
leather processing; leather upholstery.
Slang. catering to or patronized by customers who typically wear leather clothing, often as a means of signaling interest in or preference for sadomasochistic sexual activity.
verb (used with object)
to cover or furnish with leather.
Informal. to beat with a leather strap.
Origin of leather
before 1000; Middle English lether, Old English lether- (in compounds); cognate with Dutch, German leder, Old Norse lethr, MIr lethar skin, leather, Welsh lledr, Middle Breton lezr leather
Related forms
underleather, noun
unleathered, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for leather


  1. a material consisting of the skin of an animal made smooth and flexible by tanning, removing the hair, etc
  2. (as modifier): leather goods, related adjectives coriaceous leathern
(pl) leather clothes, esp as worn by motorcyclists
the flap of a dog's ear
verb (transitive)
to cover with leather
to whip with or as if with a leather strap
Word Origin
Old English lether- (in compound words); related to Old High German leder, Old Norse lethr-
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 leather

Old English leðer (in compounds only) "hide, skin, leather," from Proto-Germanic *lethran (cf. Old Norse leðr, Old Frisian lether, Old Saxon lethar, Middle Dutch, Dutch leder, Old High German ledar, German leder), from PIE *letro- "leather" (cf. Old Irish lethar, Welsh lledr, Breton lezr). As an adjective from early 14c.; it acquired a secondary sense of "sado-masochistic" 1980s, having achieved that status in homosexual jargon in the 1970s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for leather



: jokes about the heroine's harmless male roommate, leather men, etc/becomes part of the leather-bar homosexual underworld/the sex clubs and leather bars of the gay ghetto


  1. The clothing and trappings of overt sadomasochism (1980s+)
  2. A kind of male homosexual behavior, costume, etc, based on exaggerated masculinity as symbolized esp by black-leather-clad motorcycle gangs (1970s+ Homosexuals)

Related Terms

heavy leather, hell-for-leather

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with leather


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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