[ lap ]

noun,plural Lapps, (especially collectively) Lapp.
  1. Also called Lap·land·er [lap-lan-der, -luhn-]. /ˈlæpˌlæn dər, -lən-/. Sami (def. 1).

  2. Also called Lap·pish [lap-ish] /ˈlæp ɪʃ/ . Sami (def. 2).

Origin of Lapp

First recorded in 1855–60; origin uncertain; possibly from Old Swedish lapper “piece” (the Sami were so poor that they had to patch their clothes); or originally a term of contempt; compare Middle High German lappe “simpleton”; perhaps of Finnish origin; compare Finnish lappalainen “Lapp,”Lappi “Lapland” (meaning “northern wilderness”)

usage note For Lapp

Though Lapp, Laplander, and Lappish are still in use, the people themselves consider these terms to be offensive. They use the name Sami. The reason for the perceived offensiveness of these terms is their possible etymology from an Old Swedish word meaning “piece or patch,” alluding to the patched clothes that the impoverished Sami wore in the past. Lapland is still the acceptable name for the region inhabited by the Sami, though the Sami call it Sapmi.

Words Nearby Lapp Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use Lapp in a sentence

  • For Haakon had married Gunilda, a rich maiden of one of the richest Lapp families, and she had brought these to his tent.

  • “Myself,” answered the Lapp; and taking a spoonful of the boiling liquid he flung it in her face.

    The Science of Fairy Tales | Edwin Sidney Hartland
  • A Lapp tale presents this mysterious lapse of time as the sequel of an adventure similar to that of Ulysses with Polyphemus.

    The Science of Fairy Tales | Edwin Sidney Hartland
  • For Eva had on a ski-dress with a very small skirt, trousers, and a Lapp fur cloak.

    Fridtjof Nansen | Jacob B. Bull
  • After procuring my Lapp outfit, I thought I would try to dress myself in my new garments.

    The Land of the Long Night | Paul du Chaillu

British Dictionary definitions for Lapp


/ (læp) /

  1. a member of a nomadic people living chiefly in N Scandinavia and the Kola Peninsula of Russia

  2. the language of this people, belonging to the Finno-Ugric family

  1. of or relating to this people or their language

usage For Lapp

The indigenous people of Lapland prefer to be called Sami, although Lapp is still in widespread use

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