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verb (used without object)
  1. to look with a sideways or oblique glance, especially suggestive of lascivious interest or sly and malicious intention: I can't concentrate with you leering at me.
  1. a lascivious or sly look.

Origin of leer1

1520–30; perhaps v. use of obsolete leer cheek (Middle English leor, Old English hlēor; cognate with Old Norse hlȳr (plural))
Related formsleer·ing·ly, adverb


  1. lehr.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for leers

Historical Examples

  • What do I care for public opinion, for gossip, for their leers and whispers?

    The Winning Clue</p>

    James Hay, Jr.

  • It was so unlike Glenerne and the leers about the aquarium corner.

    Gray youth

    Oliver Onions

  • She leans forward and leers up into the face of her Prodigal.

    Dangerous Ground

    Lawrence L. Lynch

  • The buccaneers sprang at the terrified women and priests, some with weapons out, others with leers and outstretched arms.

    Sir Henry Morgan, Buccaneer

    Cyrus Townsend Brady

  • He shrugs his shoulders, opens his eyes, leers, and—there is the complete manufactured article.

British Dictionary definitions for leers


  1. (intr) to give an oblique, sneering, or suggestive look or grin
  1. such a look
Derived Formsleering, adjective, nounleeringly, adverb

Word Origin

C16: perhaps verbal use of obsolete leer cheek, from Old English hlēor
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 leers



1590s, from leer (v).



"to look obliquely" (now usually implying "with a lustful or malicious intent"), 1520s, probably from Middle English noun ler "cheek," from Old English hleor "the cheek, the face," from Proto-Germanic *khleuzas "near the ear," from *kleuso- "ear," from PIE root *kleu- "to hear" (see listen). The notion is probably of "looking askance" (cf. figurative development of cheek). Related: Leered; leering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

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