Definitions

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

  • adv. Readily; willingly: I would as lief go now as later.
  • adj. Archaic Beloved; dear.
  • adj. Archaic Ready or willing.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. beloved, dear, agreeable
  • adj. willing
  • adv. Readily, willingly.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Dear; beloved.
  • adj. Pleasing; agreeable; acceptable; preferable.
  • adj. Willing; disposed.
  • adv. Gladly; willingly; freely; -- now used only in the phrases, had as lief, and would as lief.
  • n. Same as lif.
  • n. A dear one; a sweetheart.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Beloved; pleasing; agreeable.
  • Inclined; disposed; willing; having a preference.
  • n. One beloved; a darling.
  • Gladly; willingly.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adv. in a willing manner

Etymologies

Middle English leve, lef, dear, willingly, from Old English lēof, dear; see leubh- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old English lēof, from Proto-Germanic *leubaz, whence Gothic 𐌻𐌹𐍆𐌿𐍃 (liufs). Cognate with Dutch lief, German lieb, Russian любовь (ljubóv’), Swedish and Norwegian Nynorsk ljuv. (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • I be lief this word is not used much anymore.

    February 25, 2010

  • "FIRST and SECOND SERVANT: What, what, what? let's partake.
    THIRD SERVANT: I would not be a Roman, of all nations; I had as lief be a condemned man."
    - William Shakespeare, 'The Tragedy of Coriolanus'.

    August 29, 2009

  • See also lieve.

    January 4, 2008