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See more synonyms for lad on Thesaurus.com
  1. a boy or youth.
  2. Informal. a familiar or affectionate term of address for a man; chap.
  3. British Horseracing Informal. a stable boy.
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Origin of lad

1250–1300; Middle English ladde < ?; compare late Old English Ladda (nickname)
Related formslad·dish, adjectivelad·hood, noun


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

Related Words

youngster, fellow, schoolboy, boy, juvenile, buddy, son, youth, runt, child, guy, stripling, kid, half-pint

Examples from the Web for lad

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Aye, lad, and the plain things are always the hardest things to do.

  • I tell you, lad, that I am all undone, like a fretted bow-string.

    The White Company

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • Yet, it was capable of meaning much concerning the nature of the lad.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • But a sudden unaccustomed gust of affection swirled in the breast of the lad.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • Wit, lad, is a catching thing, like the itch or the sweating sickness.

    The White Company

    Arthur Conan Doyle

British Dictionary definitions for lad


  1. a boy or young man
  2. informal a familiar form of address for any male
  3. a lively or dashing man or youth (esp in the phrase a bit of a lad)
  4. a young man whose behaviour is characteristic of male adolescents, esp in being rowdy, macho, or immature
  5. British a boy or man who looks after horses
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Word Origin

C13 ladde; perhaps of Scandinavian origin
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 lad


c.1300, ladde "foot soldier," also "young male servant" (attested as a surname from late 12c.), possibly from a Scandinavian language (cf. Norwegian -ladd, in compounds for "young man"), but of obscure origin in any case. OED hazards a guess on Middle English ladde, plural of the past participle of lead (v.), thus "one who is led" (by a lord). Liberman derives it from Old Norse ladd "hose; woolen stocking." "The development must have been from 'stocking,' 'foolish youth' to 'youngster of inferior status' and (with an ameliorated meaning) to 'young fellow.'" He adds, "Words for socks, stockings, and shoes seem to have been current as terms of abuse for and nicknames of fools." Meaning "boy, youth, young man" is from mid-15c. Scottish form laddie, a term of endearment, attested from 1540s.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper