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[leef] /lif/
gladly; willingly:
I would as lief go south as not.
adjective, Archaic.
willing; desirous.
dear; beloved; treasured.
Origin of lief
before 900; Middle English leef, Old English lēof; cognate with Dutch lief, German lieb, Old Norse ljufr, Gothic liufs; akin to love
Related forms
liefly, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for liefer
Historical Examples
  • If these be taken from me, I am poor indeed, and I'd liefer die than live in shame.

    Sir Henry Morgan, Buccaneer Cyrus Townsend Brady
  • "I'd liefer haul out the pinnace," replied Alden with a grimace.

    Standish of Standish

    Jane G. Austin
  • liefer I would die than live a life of shame, and therefore slay me!

    King Arthur's Knights

    Henry Gilbert
  • I wonder you wouldn't have him liefer than go into one of them hospitals.

    Miss Mackenzie

    Anthony Trollope
  • He said he had liefer go; and the king said: "Then am I the more content."

  • I reck'n he'd liefer claw on to your throat, lad, nor ony o' oors.

    Bob, Son of Battle Alfred Ollivant
  • I had liefer have been alone, but I could scarce tell him so.

    A Daughter of Raasay William MacLeod Raine
  • But I'd liefer sweep th' streets, if paupers had na' got hold on that work.

    North and South Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell
  • We had liefer go our way to place which seeks not such high pay.

  • For I had liefer my friend had this money, than those insatiable thieves.

    Against War Erasmus
British Dictionary definitions for liefer


(rare) gladly; willingly: I'd as lief go today as tomorrow
  1. ready; glad
  2. dear; beloved
Word Origin
Old English leof; related to lufu love
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 liefer



Old English leof "dear, valued, beloved, pleasant;" also as a noun, "a beloved person, friend," from Proto-Germanic *leubo- (cf. Old Norse ljutr, Old Frisian liaf, Dutch lief, Old High German liob, German lieb, Gothic liufs "dear, beloved"), from PIE root *leubh- "love" (see love (n.)). As an adverb, "dearly, willingly" from c.1250. I want and I'd love to are overworked and misused to fill the hole left in the language when I would lief faded in 17c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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