Definition of louse in English:

louse

noun

  • 1Either of two small wingless parasitic insects that live on the skin of mammals and birds.

    ('sucking louse') an insect with piercing mouthparts, found only on mammals (order Anoplura or Siphunculata).See also body louse, head louse

    ('biting louse') an insect with a large head and jaws, found chiefly on birds (order Mallophaga).

    • ‘Only the presence of live lice can confirm diagnosis of active infection.’
    • ‘Head lice are insects living on the human scalp and feeding on blood.’
    • ‘There are also flies whose larvae develop only in the tracheal passages of red kangaroos and lice that live in the throat pouches of cormorants and pelicans.’
    • ‘Control of poultry lice requires treating the birds since lice remain on the bird throughout its life.’
    • ‘A strong solution of it can even remove lice or other skin parasites.’
    • ‘Before treatment, live lice must be identified under a magnifying glass, which is best done when the hair is wet.’
    • ‘Villagers also cited skin, lice, and saliva as carriers of the disease.’
    • ‘I haven't seen a live louse on her head since last Wednesday.’
    • ‘As earlier research had shown, they found a major split among lice species that live on apes and on monkeys and other primates.’
    • ‘The main effect of feather lice on their bird hosts is feather damage.’
    • ‘You only treat for head lice if you find live lice in the hair.’
    • ‘Presumably mineral oil is acting like petroleum jelly to smother the live lice and loosen nits.’
    • ‘The gold standard for diagnosing head lice is finding a live louse on the head, which can be difficult.’
    • ‘Head lice are small, wingless insects that can get on the hair and scalp of humans.’
    • ‘Beds were made from straw, which of course is a home for insects of all kinds, particularly fleas, lice, and tics.’
    • ‘Petroleum jelly, mayonnaise and mineral oil seem to smother live lice.’
    • ‘Head lice are insects that live on the scalp and neck.’
    • ‘As a result of their cramped conditions, diseases such as eye cataracts and parasitic sea lice are rife, the group claims.’
    • ‘Some germs rely on insects - such as mosquitoes, fleas, lice or ticks - to move from host to host.’
    • ‘Treatment should be repeated after seven to 10 days if live lice are present.’
    1. 1.1 Used in names of small invertebrates that parasitize aquatic animals or infest plants, e.g. fish louse.
      • ‘They are also hosts to a number of blood parasites and feather lice.’
      • ‘Stalked barnacles and whale lice often attach to the exposed teeth..’
      • ‘It is the realm of periwinkles, limpets, rock lice, and barnacles.’
      • ‘Sea spiders and sea lice have a cavity of body fluid as salty as the sea itself.’
      • ‘Sea trout numbers collapsed in 1989 with many sea trout caught in the net heavily infested with sea lice.’
  • 2informal A contemptible or unpleasant person.

    • ‘The louses are just plain nasty drivers who don't give a damn about anyone but themselves.’
    • ‘He said that, among the others using that network, there could be louses looking for their next attack target.’
    • ‘His characters were cads, letches, and leering louses, but they effectively tapped a bit of that inappropriate urge in us all.’
    • ‘All of these characters - if we can indeed call them that - are despicable louses that lie, cheat, and backstab each other in the name of comedy and TV ratings.’
    • ‘Since his original plan of using leftover roach motels now seems impractical, Jack must devise a better means of sending these unlicensed louses back to where they belong.’
    scoundrel, villain, rogue, rascal, brute, animal, weasel, snake, monster, ogre, wretch, devil, good-for-nothing, reprobate, wrongdoer, evil-doer
    View synonyms

verb

[with object]
  • 1louse something upinformal Spoil or ruin something.

    ‘he loused up my promotion chances’
    • ‘Your summer has been a colossal mess, but other folks have been lousing things up, too.’
    • ‘Let's not louse it up by letting someone else take over and make the rules for us.’
    • ‘However, the mechanic loused it up, but tried to convince me that that was as good as those engines could get.’
    • ‘The assumption, as is often the case with this cretaceous era of computer software, is that someone else has loused it up for them.’
    • ‘Without had evidence in front of me, I'm inclined to believe older browsers like that would louse it up.’
    • ‘This could have been excellent and by far the best version of the game, so it's a shame they loused it up so badly.’
    • ‘They take perfectly good water and louse it up with kiwi and strawberry.’
    • ‘And I can see why he probably said that - the event should garner some positive local press for the party and they might not want to louse it up with an incident involving police.’
    • ‘Rebecca has an unerring ear for the ways mismatched people relate, an open heart for the ways they louse things up.’
    • ‘Too bad they loused it up with predictable plot elements and assorted screwball humor.’
    • ‘The film really tries to delve into the Romulus / Remus iconography of brotherhood, but louses it up tremendously.’
    • ‘The thing that I really heard was ‘Let's not louse it up with a lot of psychobabble.’’
    • ‘If he loused it up in any way, everybody would laugh and they would do it over again.’
    • ‘But then she had to go and louse it up by acting like a damn pop star.’
    • ‘The brain trust decided to ‘fix’ it after that one year and loused it up royally.’
    • ‘Sorry for being such a dope but this is my first dedicated server and I prefer not to louse it up right off!’
    • ‘They then took this cleaner to their design team who loused it up for probably for more money!’
    wreck, ruin, spoil, disrupt, undo, upset, play havoc with, make a mess of, put an end to, end, bring to an end, put a stop to, terminate, prevent, frustrate, blight, crush, quell, quash, dash, scotch, shatter, vitiate, blast, devastate, demolish, sabotage, torpedo
    View synonyms
  • 2archaic Remove lice from.

    • ‘When the girl and the lion first appear in the tale we are told that she is lousing him, which illustrates the bond between them.’
    • ‘The grandmother began lousing him again and soon he was asleep and snoring loud enough to rattle the windows.’
    • ‘They were lousing each other; and it surprised us that they did not discontinue their work + as we entered.’

Origin

Old English lūs, (plural) lȳs, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch luis, German Laus.

Pronunciation

louse

/laʊs/