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[lep-er] /ˈlɛp ər/
a person who has leprosy.
a person who has been rejected or ostracized for unacceptable behavior, opinions, character, or the like; anathema; outcast.
Origin of leper
1350-1400; Middle English lepre leprosy < Latin lepra < Greek lépra, noun use of feminine of leprós scaly, akin to lépos scale, lépein to peel Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for leper
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The leper himself would never have dreamed of his touching him.

    Weighed and Wanting George MacDonald
  • Cass, the teller, certainly shunned him as he would a leper.

    Thoroughbreds W. A. Fraser
  • Money is a disease that he spreads when he walks, like the scales that fall from a leper.

  • No; he must himself warn Dom Diego that he was a leper—a pariah.

  • Ay, but the fault was theirs who drove him to it, leaving him only a leper's life.

  • When you look at yourself in the glass you see the typical appearance of the leper.

    The Moon and Sixpence W. Somerset Maugham
  • It seemed as if she was regarding me almost with horror, as if I were a sort of a leper.

    The Trail of '98

    Robert W. Service
  • "I thought we had done with the leper," cried Flambeau, and spat on the road.

British Dictionary definitions for leper


a person who has leprosy
(derogatory) a person who is ignored or despised
Usage note
Rather than talking about a leper or lepers, it is better to talk about a person with leprosy and people with leprosy
Word Origin
C14: via Late Latin from Greek lepra, noun use of lepros scaly, from lepein to peel
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 leper

"one afflicted with leprosy," late 14c., from Late Latin lepra, from Greek lepra "leprosy," from fem. of lepros (adj.) "scaly," from leops "a scale," related to lepein "to peel," from lopos "a peel," from PIE root *lep- "to peel, scale" (see leaf (n.)). Originally the word for the disease itself (mid-13c.); because of the -er ending it came to mean "person with leprosy," so leprosy was coined 16c. from adjective leprous.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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leper in Medicine

leper lep·er (lěp'ər)
One who has leprosy.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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