[les-uh n]


verb (used with object)

to teach; instruct; give a lesson to.
to admonish or reprove.

Origin of lesson

1175–1225; Middle English lesso(u)n < Old French leçon < Latin lēctiōn- (stem of lēctiō) lection
Can be confusedlessen lesson
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

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British Dictionary definitions for lesson



  1. a unit, or single period of instruction in a subject; classan hour-long music lesson
  2. the content of such a unit
material assigned for individual study
something from which useful knowledge or principles can be learned; example
the principles, knowledge, etc, gained
a reprimand or punishment intended to correct
a portion of Scripture appointed to be read at divine service


(tr) rare to censure or punish

Word Origin for lesson

C13: from Old French leçon, from Latin lēctiō, from legere to read
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 lesson

early 13c., "a reading aloud from the Bible," also "something to be learned by a student," from Old French leçon, from Latin lectionem (nominative lectio) "a reading," noun of action from past participle stem of legere "to read" (see lecture (n.)). Transferred sense of "an occurrence from which something can be learned" is from 1580s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with lesson


see learn one's lesson; teach a lesson.

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