Leste adj. [lɛst(ə)] – nimble, agile, sprightly, light; risqué (joke); offhand (remark).

This is a word I discovered last night while browsing a French dictionary. It is thought to come from an old Germanic word liste. A related adverb is lestement, which means nimbly, agilely, in a sprightly manner, lightly or offhandedly.

It’s related to the Spanish word listo, which has a number of meanings, including “ready, prepared, clever, sharp-witted, able, nimble”. It’s also related to the Portuguese word lesto, which means “quick, deft, nimble, swift, fleet, light footed, rapid, ready, clever, dexterous or skillful”. Other related words include the German listig (cunning, devious, shrewd) and leicht (easily, effortlessly, gently), which is related to the English word light(ly).

Light (not heavy) comes from the Old English leoht, from Proto-Germanic *lingkhtaz, from the Proto-Indo-European *le(n)gwh- (light, easy, agile, nimble), which is the root of leste, and also of lever [Source]

This entry was posted in English, French, German, Language, Portuguese, Spanish, Words and phrases.

9 Responses to Leste

  1. Yenlit says:

    Probably also related to English words: lithe, lithesome and lissom?

  2. Jurčík says:

    Proto-Indo-European not Proto-Indo-Europeam 🙂
    Don’t forget publish the PIE phrases, informations etc. I sent 🙂

  3. Simon says:

    Yenlit – lithe, lithesome and lissom come from the Old English liðe (soft, mild, gentle, meek), from the Proto-Germanic *linthijaz, from Proto-Indo-European *lent- (flexible) [source].

  4. Christopher Miller says:

    And it is directly related to Occitan lèst which means ready, early or agile.

    But Jurčik, isn’t Proto-Indo-Europeam just the accusative/oblique case form? In which case, as object of a preposition, it should be all right, no?

  5. Jurčík says:

    ???In English there don’t exist cases???

  6. Yenlit says:

    Who, whose, whom?

  7. Yenlit says:

    It’s present in Italian as well ‘lesto’ – agile, svelte and in the regional dialects/languages:
    Napulitano – liésto
    Sardinian – lestu, lestrulinu
    Calabrese – lestu
    Romagnolo – lèst

  8. Christopher Miller says:

    To Jurčik again–

    Perhaps I should have added a ;-D after the comment I made to youm earlier.

  9. Could there also be a connection to the English word listless?

%d bloggers like this: