verb (used without object)

to look with a sideways or oblique glance, especially suggestive of lascivious interest or sly and malicious intention: I can't concentrate with you leering at me.


a lascivious or sly look.

Origin of leer

1520–30; perhaps v. use of obsolete leer cheek (Middle English leor, Old English hlēor; cognate with Old Norse hlȳr (plural))
Related formsleer·ing·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for leering

stare, eye, smirk, goggle, wink, gloat, ogle, sneer, squint, eyeball

Examples from the Web for leering

Contemporary Examples of leering

Historical Examples of leering

  • His fist shot out, caught the leering guard flush on his chin.

    Slaves of Mercury

    Nat Schachner

  • He turned his back after leering terribly as he looked at Gervaise.


    Emile Zola

  • He spun round in his amazement and met the leering face of Ayoub.

    The Sea-Hawk

    Raphael Sabatini

  • I have stirred up ghosts of the past—leering ghosts, and I hate them.


    Cleveland Moffett

  • But now the brute came back, cautiously, crouching and leering.

British Dictionary definitions for leering



(intr) to give an oblique, sneering, or suggestive look or grin


such a look
Derived Formsleering, adjective, nounleeringly, adverb

Word Origin for leer

C16: perhaps verbal use of obsolete leer cheek, from Old English hlēor
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 leering



1590s, from leer (v).



"to look obliquely" (now usually implying "with a lustful or malicious intent"), 1520s, probably from Middle English noun ler "cheek," from Old English hleor "the cheek, the face," from Proto-Germanic *khleuzas "near the ear," from *kleuso- "ear," from PIE root *kleu- "to hear" (see listen). The notion is probably of "looking askance" (cf. figurative development of cheek). Related: Leered; leering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper