louse / lous
Noun (plural lice for definitions 1 and 2; plural louses for definition 3)
1. any of a number of small wingless parasitic insects that live on the skin of mammals and birds
Sir, there is no settling the point of precedency between a louse and a flea.
Samuel Johnson, 1709 – 1784
2. a small insect that feeds by sucking sap from plants or by feeding on other organic matter, fungus, algae, or lichen
A louse in the cabbage is better than no meat at all.
Pennsylvania Dutch Proverb
3. a contemptible or awful person
When are the world’s political parties going to get appropriate symbols: snake, louse, jackal, … trash can, clown face, … dollar bill with bat wings on it?
P. J. O’Rourke, 1947 –
1. (slang) to spoil or ruin something
A single prop that does not look real to an audience can louse you up.
Desi Arnaz, 1917 – 1986
2. (archaic) to remove lice from; to delouse
Louse no vermin such as fleas, lice, ticks, etc. in the sight of others; if it be upon the clothes of your companions, put it off privately, and if it be upon your own clothes return thanks to him who puts it off.
Paraphrased from George Washington’s ‘’Rules for Civility”