L is for Lake

Lac Temiskamingue
Some old friends on a walk emerge onto the shore of Lake Temiskaming for a view of Devil’s Rock.

History and significance

The letter L is a consonant and is spelled ell or el. L is derived from the Greek lambda and Semitic lamedh. The original letter lamedh was a picture of an ox goad or a stick for driving oxen.

L is for Latin

Words of Latin derivation account for 29% of words in the Oxford English Dictionary and 15% of words in business usage. Many of these words came into the English language during the time that the Roman Empire dominated England, others came in from the influence of the Roman Catholic Church. Latin and Latinized Greek came to be used to create binomial names for plants and animals under the Linnaean system of nomenclature. Some Latin words have entered English via French or Italian. Latin reveals itself in English most often as a prefix or suffix.

lactate, lactose [from Latin, lac, for “milk”]

levity, relieve [from Latin, levis, for “light”]

liberal, liberty [from Latin, liber, for “free”]

lunar, lunatic [from Latin, luna, for “moon”]

lupine [from Latin, lupus, for “wolf”]

Canis lupus (timber wolf)

L is for linguistics

Linguistics is the study of the structure of languages and the nature of human speech.

Special reading assignment

  1. Canada is lucky to have so many lakes as a source of fresh water for drinking and for recreation. Originally, these lakes and the connecting rivers acted as routes for exploration of the country.
  2. Lake Temiskaming, a part of the Ottawa River, is located in a rift valley. The cliffs at Devil’s Rock rise over 90 metres (300 feet) above the lake, which has a depth of 216 metres (over 700 feet). Be sure to wear your life jacket.

L is for Lion


These lions are strolling through their compound at the Toronto Zoo.
These lions are strolling through their compound at the Toronto Zoo.

Prefixes and Suffixes with L


Certain words derived from French use the prefixes, la— or le—, but many words beginning with L are from Latin. 

la— from the French for “the”.


le— from the French for “the”.

Le Havre [city]

lee— the sheltered side of something, from Old English and German.

leeward, leeway

log— or logo— about a word or speech, from Latin.


lun— related to the moon, crescent-shaped, from Latin.

lunar, lunatic

Compound words may be created with common words, such as lock, long, look, low, etc., which act like prefixes.


lock stitch



long division






low gear



lent creates an adjective similar to —ful, meaning more of the same.

repellent, violent, virulent

less creates an adjective or adverb from a noun or a verb to indicate a lack or freedom from something.

childless, fearless, sugarless

restless, sleepless, tireless

let something little; a diminutive.

booklet, piglet, owlet

like creates an adjective from a noun to indicate similarity. Use a hyphen for words ending in —l and for unusual combinations.

childlike, ladylike, saintlike, warlike

bowl-like, shell-like

pavement-like, umbrella-like

ling something little; a diminutive.

sapling, yearling

lith denotes a kind of stone or rock.

megalith, monolith, otolith

lithic creates an adjective from a noun ending in —lith.

palaeolithic [UK], paleolithic [US]

logic, —logical creates an adjective from a noun ending in —logy.


biological, theological

logist creates a noun indicating a person working in a profession studying something that ends in —ogy.

mammalogist, microbiologist,  zoologist

logue, —log creates a noun indicating talk. [The —log ending is US English.]

dialogue, prologue

dialog [US]

logue, —log creates a noun indicating the compilation of something.

catalogue, travelogue

catalog [US]

logy about how something is spoken or expressed; discourse.

neology, phraseology

logy, —ology a study, discipline, or science.


biology, dermatology

long describes something of great duration or breadth, or a success.

along, belong, furlong, oblong

ly creates an adverb from an adjective to indicate the manner or the degree of something.

exactly, honestly, slowly

ly creates an adjective from a noun to indicate the quality of something.

dryly, girly, manly

ly creates an adjective from a noun to denote that something occurs at intervals of time.

annually, daily, hourly, yearly

lysis creates a noun denoting a cutting up, disintegration or decomposition. The plural of these words is generally —lyses.

analysis, hydrolysis

lytic creates an adjective for words ending in —lysis.

analytic, electrolytic


  1. Use the suffixes and prefixes to make simple words longer and then use them in a sentence. Do you know the meaning of each word? If not, go to the dictionary.

Special reading assignment

  1. Ladies in London like Latin lovers.
  2. The lion, an African cat species and a popular zoo animal, might eat a South American llama, if given a chance.

L is for Lilies

Lilium sp.
This orange garden variety is similar to the wild wood lily.

Two verbs, to lie and to lay

The two verbs, to lie and to lay have different related meanings, although they are often used incorrectly, mostly because children are told never to lie.

To lie, aside from meaning to tell an untruth (“He lied about…”), is an intransitive verb, which means that it never takes a direct object. This verb involves only the subject.

I lie down. I laid down. I have lain down under the stars.

Please, lie here on the blanket.

To lay is a transitive verb and must have a direct object, although the object may be only understood, rather than stated. A direct object generally answers the question “What?”. That is, you have to lay something down.

What did you lay down there?

I lay the pen down. I laid it here. I have laid it down.

Please lay the blanket on the grass.

Most verbs may be used as both transitive and intransitive. That is why you need a certain self-discipline to distinguish between lie and lay. Most times it doesn’t matter to anyone, but other times it may.


Some L words





lying, laying







Fun L words









  1. Create sentences using the verbs, to lie and to lay. Remember that you have to lay something down.
  2. Read the lists of L words and create a sentence for each. Make sure that you know the meaning of each word.


Special reading assignment

  1. The lady lay all the lemons in a line; only a little lime was lost. Did the lady lie about the lime?


  1. “Now I lay me down to sleep.”

— From a children’s bedtime prayer, circa 1711.