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noun (used with a singular or plural verb)
  1. an enclosed arena for a tilting contest.
  2. the barriers enclosing this arena.
  3. any place or scene of combat, competition, controversy, etc.
  1. enter the lists, to involve oneself in a conflict or contest: to enter the lists against the protective tariff.

Origin of lists

1350–1400; Middle English listes, plural of liste list2


  1. a series of names or other items written or printed together in a meaningful grouping or sequence so as to constitute a record: a list of members.
  2. list price.
  3. Computers. a series of records in a file.
  4. a complete record of stocks handled by a stock exchange.
  5. all of the books of a publisher that are available for sale.
  6. Digital Technology. listserv: Please unsubscribe me from the list.
verb (used with object)
  1. to set down together in a list; make a list of: to list the membership of a club.
  2. to enter in a list, directory, catalog, etc.: to list him among the members.
  3. to place on a list of persons to be watched, excluded, restricted, etc.
  4. Computers. to print or display in a list: Let's list the whole program and see where the bug is.
  5. to register (a security) on a stock exchange so that it may be traded there.
  6. Archaic. enlist.
verb (used without object)
  1. to be offered for sale, as in a catalog, at a specified price: This radio lists at $49.95.
  2. Archaic. enlist.

Origin of list1

1595–1605; special use of list2 (roll of names, perhaps orig. of contestants in the lists); compare French liste < Italian lista roll of names, earlier, band, strip (e.g., of paper), border < Old High German (German Leiste)


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1. register. List, catalog, inventory, roll, schedule imply a definite arrangement of items. List denotes a series of names, items, or figures arranged in a row or rows: a list of groceries. Catalog adds the idea of alphabetical or other orderly arrangement, and, often, descriptive particulars and details: a library catalog. An inventory is a detailed descriptive list of property, stock, goods, or the like made for legal or business purposes: a store inventory. A roll is a list of names of members of some defined group often used to ascertain their presence or absence: a class roll. A schedule is a methodical (especially official) list, often indicating the time or sequence of certain events: a train schedule. 7. record, catalog. 8. enroll.


  1. a border or bordering strip, usually of cloth.
  2. a selvage.
  3. selvages collectively.
  4. a strip of cloth or other material.
  5. a strip or band of any kind.
  6. a stripe of color.
  7. a division of the hair or beard.
  8. one of the ridges or furrows of earth made by a lister.
  9. a strip of material, as bark or sapwood, to be trimmed from a board.
  10. fillet(def 6a).
  1. made of selvages or strips of cloth.
verb (used with object)
  1. to produce furrows and ridges on (land) with a lister.
  2. to prepare (ground) for planting by making ridges and furrows.
  3. to cut away a narrow strip of wood from the edge of (a stave, plank, etc.).
  4. Obsolete. to apply a border or edge to.

Origin of list2

before 900; Middle English lista, Old English līst border; cognate with Dutch lijst, German Leiste (Old High German līsta)


  1. a careening, or leaning to one side, as of a ship.
verb (used without object)
  1. (of a ship or boat) to incline to one side; careen: The ship listed to starboard.
verb (used with object)
  1. to cause (a vessel) to incline to one side: The shifting of the cargo listed the ship to starboard.

Origin of list3

First recorded in 1620–30; origin uncertain


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2, 3. tilt, slant, heel.


verb (used with object)
  1. to please.
  2. to like or desire.
verb (used without object)
  1. to like; wish; choose.

Origin of list4

before 900; Middle English listen, lusten, Old English (ge)lystan to please; cognate with German gelüsten, Old Norse lysta to desire, akin to Gothic lustōn to desire. See lust


verb (used without object)
  1. to listen.
verb (used with object)
  1. to listen to.

Origin of list5

before 900; Middle English listen, Old English hlystan to listen, hear, derivative of hlyst ear; cognate with Swedish lysta; akin to Old Norse hlusta to listen. See listen
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for lists

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • The holders of the lists occupied the end which was nearest to the city gate.

    The White Company

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • "Your lists, unruly one," said the teacher—one of Napoleon's chief persecutors.

  • At the ends of the lists the squires caught the horses by the bridles and turned them.

    Fair Margaret

    H. Rider Haggard

  • Then a truce for to-day; to-morrow, with your good leave, I enter the lists.

  • He had taken these lists from the drawer of the prisoner's desk.

    A Tale of Two Cities

    Charles Dickens

British Dictionary definitions for lists


pl n
  1. history
    1. the enclosed field of combat at a tournament
    2. the barriers enclosing the field at a tournament
  2. any arena or scene of conflict, controversy, etc
  3. enter the lists to engage in a conflict, controversy, etc

Word Origin

C14: plural of list ² (border, boundary)


  1. an item-by-item record of names or things, usually written or printed one under the other
  2. computing a linearly ordered data structure
  3. be on the danger list to be in a critical medical or physical condition
  1. (tr) to make a list of
  2. (tr) to include in a list
  3. (tr) British to declare to be a listed building
  4. (tr) stock exchange to obtain an official quotation for (a security) so that it may be traded on the recognized market
  5. an archaic word for enlist
Derived Formslistable, adjective

Word Origin

C17: from French, ultimately related to list ²; compare Italian lista list of names (earlier: border, strip, as of paper), Old High German līsta border


  1. (esp of ships) to lean over or cause to lean over to one side
  1. the act or an instance of leaning to one side

Word Origin

C17: origin unknown


  1. a border or edging strip, esp of cloth
  2. a less common word for selvage
  3. a strip of bark, sapwood, etc, trimmed from a board or plank
  4. another word for fillet (def. 8)
  5. a strip, band, ridge or furrow
  6. agriculture a ridge in ploughed land formed by throwing two furrows together
verb (tr)
  1. to border with or as if with a list or lists
  2. agriculture to plough (land) so as to form lists
  3. to cut a list from (a board, plank, etc)
See also lists

Word Origin

Old English līst; related to Old High German līsta


  1. to be pleasing to (a person)
  2. (tr) to desire or choose
  1. a liking or desire

Word Origin

Old English lystan; related to Old High German lusten and Gothic lūston to desire


  1. an archaic or poetic word for listen

Word Origin

Old English hlystan; related to Old Norse hlusta
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 lists



"catalogue consisting of names in a row or series," c.1600, from Middle English liste "border, edging, stripe" (late 13c.), from Old French liste "border, band, row, group," also "strip of paper," or from Old Italian lista "border, strip of paper, list," both from a Germanic source (cf. Old High German lista "strip, border, list," Old Norse lista "border, selvage," Old English liste "border"), from Proto-Germanic *liston, from PIE *leizd- "border, band." The sense of "enumeration" is from strips of paper used as a sort of catalogue.



"tilt, lean," especially of a ship, 1880, earlier (1620s) lust, of unknown origin, perhaps an unexplained spelling variant of Middle English lysten "to please, desire, wish, like" (see list (v.4)) with a sense development from the notion of "leaning" toward what one desires (cf. incline). Related: Listed; listing. The noun in this sense is from 1630s.



"hear, hearken," now poetic or obsolete, from Old English hlystan "hear, hearken," from hlyst "hearing," from Proto-Germanic *khlustiz, from PIE *kleu- "to hear" (see listen). Related: Listed; listing.



"to put down in a list; to make a list of," 1610s, from list (n.1). Meaning "to place real estate on the market" is from 1904. Attested from c.1300 as "put an edge around," from list (n.2). Related: Listed; listing.



"to be pleased, desire" (archaic), mid-12c., lusten, listen "to please, desire," from Old English lystan "to please, cause pleasure or desire, provoke longing," from Proto-Germanic *lustijan (cf. Old Saxon lustian, Dutch lusten "to like, fancy," Old High German lusten, German lüsten, Old Norse lysta); from the root of lust (n.). Related: Listed; listing. As a noun, c.1200, from the verb. Somehow English has lost listy (adj.) "pleasant, willing (to do something); ready, quick" (mid-15c.).



"a narrow strip," Old English liste "border, hem, edge, strip," from Proto-Germanic *liston (cf. Old High German lista "strip, border, list," Old Norse lista "border, selvage,"German leiste), from PIE *leizd- "border, band" (see list (n.1)). The Germanic root also is the source of French liste, Italian lista. This was the source of archaic lists "place of combat," originally at the boundary of fields.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with lists


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