[ lee-thee ]

  1. Classical Mythology. a river in Hades whose water caused forgetfulness of the past in those who drank of it.

  2. (usually lowercase) forgetfulness; oblivion.

Origin of Lethe

<Latin <Greek, special use of lḗthē forgetfulness, akin to lanthánesthai to forget

Other words from Lethe

  • Le·the·an [li-thee-uhn, lee-thee-uhn], /lɪˈθi ən, ˈli θi ən/, Lethied, adjective

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How to use Lethe in a sentence

  • O'er me, Lethean darkness, creep Unfelt as tides through dead men's bones!

    The Burning Wheel | Aldous Huxley
  • He was taunted and barked at and dogged so constantly that no Lethean waters could wash out the maddening memory.

    Under the Stars and Bars | Walter A. Clark
  • This blank tract of repulsive land, so strangely dedicated to death, had lost every hint of Lethean likeness.

    An Ambitious Woman | Edgar Fawcett
  • Had Juliet so seen her love tokens dishonoured the sooner would she have sought the lethean herbs of the good apothecary.

    The Four Million | O. Henry
  • It is not a vulgar sensuality, a Lethean torpor; the triumph of the grosser nature over the eternal principle within.

British Dictionary definitions for Lethe


/ (ˈliːθɪ) /

  1. Greek myth a river in Hades that caused forgetfulness in those who drank its waters

  2. forgetfulness

Origin of Lethe

C16: via Latin from Greek, from lēthē oblivion

Derived forms of Lethe

  • Lethean (lɪˈθiːən), adjective

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

Cultural definitions for Lethe


[ (lee-thee) ]

In classical mythology, a river flowing through Hades. The souls of the dead were forced to drink of its waters, which made them forget what they had done, said, and suffered when they were alive.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.