• synonyms


noun Chemistry.
  1. a highly concentrated, aqueous solution of potassium hydroxide or sodium hydroxide.
  2. any solution resulting from leaching, percolation, or the like.
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Origin of lye

before 900; Middle English lie, ley, Old English lēag; cognate with Dutch loog, German Lauge lye, Old Norse laug warm bath. See lave1
Can be confusedlie lye
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for lyes

Historical Examples

  • That's two lyes, Speak suddenly, for I am full of business.Din.

    The Little French Lawyer

    Francis Beaumont

  • You are a foole: She lyes, Madam, women marry husbands,To lye with other men.

    The Fatal Dowry

    Philip Massinger

  • I list not to write any lyes, but that which I write, is as true as strange.

  • Elliot reported that Clancarty ‘would stick at no lyes to bring about his schemes.’

    Pickle the Spy

    Andrew Lang

  • In the testing of lyes one which is graduated from 0° to 50° B. is usually employed.

    Soap-Making Manual

    E. G. Thomssen

British Dictionary definitions for lyes


  1. any solution obtained by leaching, such as the caustic solution obtained by leaching wood ash
  2. a concentrated solution of sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide
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Word Origin

Old English lēag; related to Middle Dutch lōghe, Old Norse laug bath, Latin lavāre to wash
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 lyes



Old English læg, leag "lye," from Proto-Germanic *laugo (cf. Middle Dutch loghe, Dutch loog, Old High German louga, German Lauge "lye"), from PIE root *leue- "to wash" (see lave). The substance was formerly used in place of soap, hence Old High German luhhen "to wash," Old Norse laug "hot bath, hot spring," Danish lørdag, Swedish lördag "Saturday," literally "washing-day." Chamber-lye in early Modern English was the name for urine used as a detergent.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

lyes in Science


  1. A strong alkaline solution or solid of potassium hydroxide or sodium hydroxide, made by allowing water to wash through wood ashes. It is used to make soap and drain and oven cleaners. Chemical formula: KOH or NaOH.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.