Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • conj. For fear that: tiptoed lest the guard should hear her; anxious lest he become ill.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • conj. For fear that; that . . . not; in order that . . . not; in case.
  • conj. That (without the negative particle); -- after certain expressions denoting fear or apprehension.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Last; least.
  • conj. For fear that; that … not; in order that … not.
  • conj. That (without the negative particle); -- after certain expressions denoting fear or apprehension.
  • n. Lust; desire; pleasure.
  • intransitive v. To listen.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • For fear that; that … not; so that … not: as, he fled lest (or for fear that) he should be killed; take heed lest you fall (that you fall not).
  • etc. A Middle English form of last, least, list, lust.

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old English (thȳ) lǣs the, (whereby) less that, so that not : lǣs, less; see less + the, relative conjunction.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

Examples

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  • For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
    1 Corinthians 1:17-25. Lest = in order to prevent, for fear that.

    July 4, 2011

  • lest a monster I become.

    September 16, 2007