L The twelfth letter of the English alphabet, usually denominated a semi-vowel, or a liquid. Its shape is evidently borrowed from that of the Oriental lamed, or lomad, nearly coinciding with the Samaritan. L has only one sound in English, as in like, canal. At the end of monosyllables, it is often doubled, as in fall, full, tell, bell; but not after diphthongs and digraphs, as in foul, fool, prowl, growl, foal. In English words, the terminating syllable le is unaccented, the e is silent, and l forms a syllable by itself, as in able, eagle, pronounced abl, eegl. — Webster, 1882
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The following is an incomplete list of the remaining indexed main headings. Once a completed entry has been uploaded, it will be removed from the list below and added to the links above. Subheadings, reference locators, and cross-referenced subentries are not included in this list. Always consult the completed entry for referenced source of definition used below.
lace – A fabric of fine thread or linen, silk, or cotton, interwoven in a net, and often ornamented with figures; a delicate tissue of thread; – worn as an ornament by ladies.
Ladies’ Aid Society / aid society – Originally a women’s organization founded during the Civil War to make and send clothing and bandages for soldier; during the Little House years meant any of various women’s societies engaged in raising money for church purposes.
ladle – An instrument used in lading or dipping; a cup with a long handle, used for throwing or dipping out liquids from a vessel.
Lady – Part of Almanzo’s team of Morgan horses, with Prince.
Lake City, Minnesota – Town in Wabasha County and Goodhue County, Minnesota, first platted in 1853. It lies on the west side of Lake Pepin.
lake – A large and extensive collection of water contained in a cavity or hollow of the earth. It is larger than a pond.
lamb – A young sheep.
lamp – 1. A light-producing vessel, instrument, or apparatus; a vessel used for the combustion of liquid inflammable bodies, for the purpose of producing light. 2. Whatever resembles a light giving vessel, as a source of light or cheerfulness.
land agent / land office – In the Little House books, the register and receiver (agents) in one of multiple locations (land office) in a state or territory under the jurisdiction of a commissioner of the General Land Office, which, as an agency of the federal government, oversaw the surveying, platting and sale of the public lands.
Jonas Lane – Fictional Burke Township teacher.
lard – The fat of swine, after being melted and separated from the flesh.
larkspur – A plant with showy flowers, usually of a vivid blue color. It belongs to the genus Delphinium, and is a native of the temperate parts of the world.
last – A mold or form of the human foot, made of wood, on which shoes are formed.
latch – A small piece of iron or wood used to fasten a door.
Laura take them off again – Line adapted from “Polly Put the Kettle On” to include Mary and Laura Ingalls.
lawn, fabric – A sort of fine linen or cambric.
Lazy John – Laborer, perhaps fictional, who did work for James Wilder.
Lazy, lousy, Lizy Jane / Lazy, lousey, Liza Jane – Part of unflattering verse about Eliza Jane Wilder.
lead – A metal of a dull white color, with a cast of blue. It is the least elastic and sonorous of all the metals, and at the same time it is soft and easily fusible. Its specific gravity when pure is 11.445. It is found native in small masses, but generally mineralized by sulphur, and sometimes by other substances. A lead pencil contains a small cylinder of black lead or plumbago.
lean-to / leanto – A building whose rafters pitch or lean against another building or against a wall.
leather – The skin of an animal dressed and prepared for use.
leech – A cotyloid worm (Hirudo [or Sanguisuga] medicinalis), largely used for the local abstraction of blood. It is of a flattened form when elongated, thickest at the posterior end, has two suckers, and ten eyes arranged in a horse-shoe form above the anterior sucker, and is of an olive-green color variously marked. It is found throughout Europe and Northern Africa. It has a triangular mouth in the anterior sucker, in each angle of which is placed a half-moon plate, set about the free rim with transverse teeth. By the retraction of these jaws a stellate incision is made, through which the leech sucks blood till it is gorged, and then drops off; – called also blood-sucker.
legging – A cover for the leg, like a long gaiter; a garment that incloses the leg.
leghorn – Breed of chicken originating in Italy and exported to the United States in 1828.
lemon – An oval or roundish fruit resembling the orange, and containing an intensely acid pulp. It is produced by a tropical tree of the genus Citrus, the common fruit known in commerce being that of the species C. limonum. There are many varieties of the fruit, some of which are sweet.
Lena – Laura’s cousin, Lena Waldgovel, daughter of Docia and August Waldvogel.
lesson – Any thing read or recited to a teacher by a pupil or learner; such as a portion of a book as a pupil is required to learn at one time. That which is learned or taught by an express effort; a precept; a doctrine.
“Let the Lower Lights Be Burning” – 1871 Phillip Bliss hymn.
lettuce – A composite plant of the genus Lactuca (L. sativa), the leaves of which are used as salad. The genus also yields a milky juice, from which lactucarium (sometimes used as a substitute for opium) is obtained. The wild lettuce of the United States is L. elongate.
level – Not having one part higher than another; not ascending or descending; even; flat; smooth; as, a level plain or field; level ground.
lever – A bar of metal, wood, or other substance, used to exert a pressure, or sustain a weight, at one point of its length by receiving a force or power at a second point, and turning at a third on a fixed point called a fulcrum. To lift or move with a lever.
Miles Lewis – Childhood friend of Almanzo Wilder.
lice – Plural of louse, a wingless, hemipterous insect having a sucking mouth, and not undergoing any metamorphosis. It is found parasitic upon mammals. The common louse is the Pediculus (humanus) capitis, found in the human hair. P. tabescentium gives rise to the disease phthisiasis, or lousy disease, which is said to have occasioned death in some cases. This insect is generally indicative of an uncleanly habit of body.
lichen – One of an order of cellular, flowerless plants, having no distinction of leaf and stem, usually of scaly, expanded, front-like forms, but sometimes imitating the forms of branches of trees. They derive their nourishment from the air, and generate by means of spores. The species are very widely distributed, and form irregular spots or patches, usually of a greenish or yellowish color, upon rocks, trees, and various bodies, to which they adhere with great tenacity. They are often improperly called rock-moss, or tree-moss.
“lick and a promise” – A hasty performance of a task, especially of cleaning something.
lie / liar – A falsehood. / A person who knwingly utters a falsehood; one who lies.
lie-abed – One given to rising late.
lilac – A shrub of the genus Syringa (S. vulgaris), a native of Persia. The common lilac is cultivated for its fragrant flowers, which are purple or white.
lily-of-the-valley – A low, stemless herb (Convallaria majalis), having a raceme nodding, fragrant flowers.
linen – Thread or cloth made of flax or hemp; – used in the plural to include cambric, shirting, sheeting, towels, table-cloths, &c.
lines – A length of cord, leather, or other material serving a particular purpose. In the Little House books, the lines typically mean the reins: a long, narrow strap attached at one end to a horse’s bit, typically used in pairs to guide or check a horse while riding or driving.
lingo – Language, speech.
Abraham Lincoln – Sixteenth president of the United States (1809-1865).
lion – A carnivorous mammal of the genus Leo, characterized by great size and strength. The body is higher and less fitted for climbing than that of the tiger, and the male has usually a thick mane on the neck, and a tail tufted at the end. It is found in Asia, and all over Africa.
liquor – Any liquid or fluid substance, as water, milk, blood, sap, juice, and the like. Especially, alcoholic or spirituous fluid, either distilled or fermented; a decoction, solution, or tincture.
lisp – To pronounce the sibilant letter s imperfectly; to give s the sound of th;- a defect common among children. To pronounce with a lisp.
livery – A livery stable. A stable where horses are kept for hire, and where stabling is provided.
Livingston’s Africa – Referring to David Livingston (1813-1873), Scottish explorer of Africa.
lizard – A four-footed reptile, having an elongate, round body, without a dorsal crest, with scales above, and with broad transverse scales below, a very long, round tail, a head covered with polygonal plates, a distinct tympanum, and a free tongue, more or less divided at the end. The lizards are found in all warm parts of the world, except Australia and the islands of the Pacific.
Lizzie – Daughter (probably fictional) of the washerwoman living near the De Smet railroad camp; she supposedly married in August or September 1879 at age thirteen.
locket – A little gold case worn as an ornament, often containing a lock of hair or a miniature.
loft – The room or space under a roof.
lofty – Characterized by pride; haughty; as lofty looks. The state of being elevated or puffed up by pride or vanity; haughtiness; arrogance.
log – A bulky piece or stick of wood or timber.
loiter – To be slow in moving; to delay; to linger; to be dilatory; to spend time idly.
longhorn – A breed of cattle known for its characteristic long horns.
looking glass / looking-glass – A glass which reflects the form of the person who looks on it; a mirror.
lookout – A careful looking or watching for any object or event. The place from which such observation is made. A person engaged in watching.
loom – A frame or machine of wood or other material, in which a weaver forms cloth out of thread.
loomed up – To loom is to appear above the surface either of sea or land, or to appear larger than the real dimensions, and indistinctly, as a distant object, a ship at sea, or a mountain; as, the ship looms large, or the land looms high.
Lottie Quiner – Laura’s cousin, the daughter of Polly and Henry Quiner.
Lotty Carpenter – Laura’s cousin, the daughter of Charles and Martha Carpenter.
Louis – Son of laborer who worked for James Wilder.
Louisa Quiner – Cousin of Laura Ingalls, the daughter of Polly and Henry Quiner.
Louizy – Friend of Carrie Ingalls in De Smet.
love – An affection of the heart excited by that which delights or commands admiration; pre-eminent kindness or devotion to another; affection, as, a mother’s love. Courtship. Fondness; satisfaction; devotion; – with of and an object; as, love of home, country, race, life, &c. The object of affection.
low – To bellow, as an ox or cow.
lowland – Land which is low with respect to the neighboring country; a low or level country.
lullaby – A song to quiet babies; that which quiets.
lumber – Timber sawed or split for use, as beams, joists, boards, planks, staves, hoops, and the like.
lumbering – To move heavily, as if burdened with bulk.
lurch – To withdraw to one side, or to a private place. To roll or pass suddenly to one side, as a ship in a heavy sea.
lye – Water impregnated with alkaline salt imbibed from the ashes of wood.
lynch-pin – A pin used to prevent the wheel of a carriage from sliding off the axle-tree.
lynx – An animal of several species of the genus Felis, and much resembling the common cat, but having longer ears and a shorter tail. The wild cat of America is the F. rufus. The lynx has a brilliant eye, and prowls about at night, and this may have given rise to the notion of its sharp sight.