Printable Version
Pronunciation: lay-zee Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Not eager to work, in fact, eager to avoid work or any other type of exertion, indolent. 2. Sluggish, slothful, slow-moving, as a lazy river. 3. Encouraging idleness or sluggishness, as a lazy summer day.

Notes: Today's Good Word is a common word, especially around this time of the year in North America. Because of the heat, summer is the time of vacations and time off from work. This word comes with an adverb, lazily, and a noun, laziness. The comparatives are lazier and laziest. A person characterized by laziness is a lazybones. Almost as soon as lazy turned up in the 16th century, a verb, laze, appeared, as to laze around the house all day.

In Play: Lazy is used most often in the first sense: "Will Doolittle is too lazy to mow his lawn, so you can barely see his house from the street." However, even diligent folks deserve a patch of laziness in these lazy, hazy days of summer: "Major Slaughter likes to drift lazily around the bay in his catamaran on weekends."

Word History: Today's Good Word was spelled laysy in the 1540s, which makes its history pretty obvious. It was either formed from lay, as tipsy was created from tip, or was heavily influenced by lay. The word is how you would characterize a layabout, making this speculation even stronger. The languages surrounding English all have words sounding like lazy, such as French lassé "tired" and German lassig "lazy, weary, tired". These might have been influential in shaping lazy, too. This word comes from the same source as Russian legu "I lie (down)", and German legen "lay". The English word fellow contains lineage from this word, too. How? Fellow comes from Old English feolaga "business partner", based on fe "money, property" (today's fee) + laga "a laying down". You had to lay down money or other assets even back then to become a business partner. (Albert Skiles is not at all lazy when it comes to suggesting excellent Good Words like today's. He submits scads of them.)

Dr. Goodword,

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