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[loh-es, les, luhs] /ˈloʊ ɛs, lɛs, lʌs/
a loamy deposit formed by wind, usually yellowish and calcareous, common in the Mississippi Valley and in Europe and Asia.
Origin of loess
Swiss German
1825-35; < German Löss < Swiss German lösch loose, slack (sch taken as a dial. equivalent of German s), akin to German lose loose
Related forms
loessial, loessal, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for loess
Historical Examples
  • The 'loess' conditions of climate seem to be coincident with the earliest Acheulean stations in Germany, such as Sablon.

    Men of the Old Stone Age Henry Fairfield Osborn
  • By accenting the height of the ridges the loess also adds to the scenery of the county.

    History of Linn County Iowa Luther A. Brewer
  • A disadvantage of the loess lies in the readiness with which it washes.

    History of Linn County Iowa Luther A. Brewer
  • In Europe and in the Americas, accumulations of loess are generally from 20 to 30 meters thick.

    Deserts A. S. Walker
  • At this time some excavations were being made in the loess in Rock Island, when some rains fell in the late fall.

    Fossil Ice Crystals Johan August Udden
  • Many thousands of square miles of northern China are covered with loess.

    Geology William J. Miller
  • In all these features it presents a precise counterpart to the loess of the Mississippi.

  • Wherever the rainfall is considerable these loess deposits have proved to have a high agricultural value.

    Outlines of the Earth's History Nathaniel Southgate Shaler
  • Many of the main roads over the loess are altered by the rains.

    Across China on Foot Edwin Dingle
  • They were a peaceful folk settling by preference, though not exclusively, in the loess districts, as at Grosgartach.

British Dictionary definitions for loess


/ˈləʊɪs; German lœs/
a light-coloured fine-grained accumulation of clay and silt particles that have been deposited by the wind
Derived Forms
loessial (ləʊˈɛsɪəl), loessal, adjective
Word Origin
C19: from German Löss, from Swiss German dialect lösch loose
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 loess

1833 (in Lyell), "unstratified deposit of loam," coined 1823 by German mineralogist Karl Cäsar von Leonhard (1779-1862) from German Löss "yellowish-gray soil," from Swiss German lösch (adj.) "loose" (cf. German los; see loose). Related: Loessial.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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loess in Science
  (lō'əs, lěs, lŭs)   
A very fine grained silt or clay, thought to have formed as the result of grinding by glaciers and to have been deposited by the wind. Most loess is believed to have originated during the Pleistocene Epoch from areas of land covered by glaciers and from desert surfaces.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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