Definition of louse in US English:

louse

noun

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

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

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

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

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    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’
    • ‘But then she had to go and louse it up by acting like a damn pop star.’
    • ‘Your summer has been a colossal mess, but other folks have been lousing things up, too.’
    • ‘They take perfectly good water and louse it up with kiwi and strawberry.’
    • ‘Sorry for being such a dope but this is my first dedicated server and I prefer not to louse it up right off!’
    • ‘The brain trust decided to ‘fix’ it after that one year and loused it up royally.’
    • ‘The film really tries to delve into the Romulus / Remus iconography of brotherhood, but louses it up tremendously.’
    • ‘However, the mechanic loused it up, but tried to convince me that that was as good as those engines could get.’
    • ‘Too bad they loused it up with predictable plot elements and assorted screwball humor.’
    • ‘If he loused it up in any way, everybody would laugh and they would do it over again.’
    • ‘They then took this cleaner to their design team who loused it up for probably for more money!’
    • ‘The thing that I really heard was ‘Let's not louse it up with a lot of psychobabble.’’
    • ‘Without had evidence in front of me, I'm inclined to believe older browsers like that would louse it up.’
    • ‘Let's not louse it up by letting someone else take over and make the rules for us.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Rebecca has an unerring ear for the ways mismatched people relate, an open heart for the ways they louse things up.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The assumption, as is often the case with this cretaceous era of computer software, is that someone else has loused it up for them.’
    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

/lous//laʊs/