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 earlier research had shown, they found a major split among lice species that live on apes and on monkeys and other primates.’
    • ‘Control of poultry lice requires treating the birds since lice remain on the bird throughout its life.’
    • ‘Presumably mineral oil is acting like petroleum jelly to smother the live lice and loosen nits.’
    • ‘You only treat for head lice if you find live lice in the hair.’
    • ‘Villagers also cited skin, lice, and saliva as carriers of the disease.’
    • ‘Only the presence of live lice can confirm diagnosis of active infection.’
    • ‘Beds were made from straw, which of course is a home for insects of all kinds, particularly fleas, lice, and tics.’
    • ‘Some germs rely on insects - such as mosquitoes, fleas, lice or ticks - to move from host to host.’
    • ‘Head lice are insects that live on the scalp and neck.’
    • ‘Before treatment, live lice must be identified under a magnifying glass, which is best done when the hair is wet.’
    • ‘Petroleum jelly, mayonnaise and mineral oil seem to smother live lice.’
    • ‘As a result of their cramped conditions, diseases such as eye cataracts and parasitic sea lice are rife, the group claims.’
    • ‘The main effect of feather lice on their bird hosts is feather damage.’
    • ‘Head lice are small, wingless insects that can get on the hair and scalp of humans.’
    • ‘Treatment should be repeated after seven to 10 days if live lice are present.’
    • ‘Head lice are insects living on the human scalp and feeding on blood.’
    • ‘A strong solution of it can even remove lice or other skin parasites.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I haven't seen a live louse on her head since last Wednesday.’
    1. 1.1 Used in names of small invertebrates that parasitize aquatic animals or infest plants, e.g. fish louse.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
  • 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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘His characters were cads, letches, and leering louses, but they effectively tapped a bit of that inappropriate urge in us all.’
    scoundrel, villain, rogue, rascal, brute, animal, weasel, snake, monster, ogre, wretch, devil, good-for-nothing, reprobate, wrongdoer, evil-doer
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verb

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

    ‘he loused up my promotion chances’
    • ‘The thing that I really heard was ‘Let's not louse it up with a lot of psychobabble.’’
    • ‘They then took this cleaner to their design team who loused it up for probably for more money!’
    • ‘The assumption, as is often the case with this cretaceous era of computer software, is that someone else has loused it up for them.’
    • ‘Let's not louse it up by letting someone else take over and make the rules for us.’
    • ‘Too bad they loused it up with predictable plot elements and assorted screwball humor.’
    • ‘Your summer has been a colossal mess, but other folks have been lousing things up, too.’
    • ‘Without had evidence in front of me, I'm inclined to believe older browsers like that would louse it up.’
    • ‘But then she had to go and louse it up by acting like a damn pop star.’
    • ‘The film really tries to delve into the Romulus / Remus iconography of brotherhood, but louses it up tremendously.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘They take perfectly good water and louse it up with kiwi and strawberry.’
    • ‘However, the mechanic loused it up, but tried to convince me that that was as good as those engines could get.’
    • ‘Rebecca has an unerring ear for the ways mismatched people relate, an open heart for the ways they louse things up.’
    • ‘If he loused it up in any way, everybody would laugh and they would do it over again.’
    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
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  • 2archaic Remove lice from.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’

Origin

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

Pronunciation

louse

/lous//laʊs/