from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A narrow strip, especially of wood.
  • noun A border or selvage of cloth.
  • noun A stripe or band of color.
  • noun An arena for jousting tournaments or other contests.
  • noun A place of combat.
  • noun An area of controversy.
  • noun A ridge thrown up between two furrows by a lister in plowing.
  • noun Obsolete A boundary; a border.
  • transitive verb To cover, line, or edge with list.
  • transitive verb To cut a thin strip from the edge of.
  • transitive verb To furrow or plant (land) with a lister.
  • noun An inclination to one side, as of a ship; a tilt.
  • intransitive & transitive verb To lean or cause to lean to the side.
  • intransitive verb To be pleasing to; suit.
  • intransitive verb To be disposed; choose.
  • noun A desire or inclination.
  • noun A series of names, words, or other items written, printed, or imagined one after the other.
  • noun A considerable number; a long series.
  • intransitive verb To make a list of; itemize.
  • intransitive verb To enter in a list; register.
  • intransitive verb To put (oneself) in a specific category.
  • intransitive verb Archaic To recruit.
  • intransitive verb To have a stated list price.
  • intransitive verb Archaic To enlist in the armed forces.
  • intransitive & transitive verb To listen or listen to.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun Desire; wish; choice; inclination.
  • noun Pleasure; lust.
  • noun Nautical, a careening or leaning to one side: as, the ship has a list to port.
  • To put into a list or catalogue; register; enroll.
  • Specifically To register the name of as a soldier; muster into the public service as a soldier; enlist: in this sense partly by apheresis from enlist.
  • To enter for taxation, as property of any kind, upon the assessment-roll or a tax-book.
  • To enter the public service by enrolling one's name; enlist: in this use partly by apheresis from enlist.
  • To inclose for a tournament, or for any contest: used especially in the past participle.
  • To border; edge. See list, n., 1.
  • To sew or put together, as strips of cloth, so as to make a variegated display of color, or to form a border.
  • To cover with list, or with lists or strips of cloth: as, to list a door; hence, to mark as if with list; streak.
  • In carpentry, to take off the edge of, as a board; shape by chopping preparatory to finishing, as a block or stave.
  • To ridge with raised borders of earth, as rows of Indian corn, by throwing up a furrow on each side with a double-moldboard plow.
  • In cotton-culture, to prepare for the crop (as land) by making a bed with the hoe, and alternating beds with alleys.
  • noun One of the barriers inclosing the field of combat at a tournament; usually, in the plural (rarely in the singular), the space or field thus inclosed: now mostly used figuratively: as, to enter the lists in behalf of one's principles.
  • noun The flank.
  • To please; be agreeable to; gratify; suit: originally impersonal, with indirect object of the person.
  • Nautical, to cause to incline or lean to one side; cause to careen or heel over, as a ship by force of a side wind or by unequal stowage of cargo, etc.
  • To be disposed or inclined; wish; choose; like; please: with a personal subject: absolute, or followed by an infinitive with to.
  • Nautical, to incline to one side or careen: as, the ship listed to starboard.
  • To attend; give heed; harken; listen.
  • To listen or harken to.


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

[Middle English, from Old English līste.]

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

[Origin unknown.]

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

[Middle English listen, to desire, please, from Old English lystan; see las- in Indo-European roots.]

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

[French liste, from Old French, from Old Italian lista, of Germanic origin.]

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

[Middle English listen, from Old English hlystan; see kleu- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Possibly from tilting on lists in jousts.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English liste, from Old English list ("art, cleverness, cunning, experience, skill, craft"), from Proto-Germanic *listiz (“craft, art”), from Proto-Indo-European *leys-, *leyǝs- (“track, furrow, trace, trail”). Cognate with Scots list ("art, skill, craft, cunning"), Eastern Frisian list ("cunning, knowledge"), Dutch list ("ruse, strategem, guile, artifice, sleight"), Low German list ("wisdom, prudence, cunning, artifice"), German List ("cunning, ruse, trick, guile, ploy"), Swedish list ("cunning, art, trick, ruse, wile, guile, stealth"), Icelandic list ("art"). Related to lore, lere, learn.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old English līste "hem, edge, strip", from Proto-Germanic *līstōn. Cognate with Dutch lijst, German Leiste, Icelandic lista/listi.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From listen

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Old English lystan, from Proto-Germanic *lustijanan, from Proto-Germanic *lustuz (“pleasure”). Akin to Old Norse lysta (whence cognate with Danish and Norwegian lyste), Old High German lusten (German gelüsten and obsolete lüsten).


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  • Make an exhaustive list of everything you might do and do the last thing on the list

    from Oblique Strategies, Brian Eno

    October 19, 2007

  • I bought a book of Eno's diaries from a woman on the sidewalk a couple of weeks back. I'm dipping into them in parallel with Kafka's diaries and the combination is hilarious.

    Edit: on topic, I like the sense of "to lean over", e.g. of a ship or even better, the imperative for "listen" c.f. Hamlet.

    October 19, 2007

  • I love this list of lists.

    August 26, 2008

  • Love that website. :-)

    August 26, 2008

  • Vikram Seth, in his virtuosic novel in verse The Golden Gate, at one point refers to unsophisticated people mingling with others who have more refined tastes: "Thus the young yahoos coexist / With those who list to list to Liszt." The first "list" is being used in the archaic sense of "have an inclination for" (which seems similar to the nautical sense of the word, though my Oxford American doesn't connect the two meanings).

    August 26, 2008

  • I wasn't familiar with "list" in the sense of "a strip of cloth" until now:

    "Speaking of Rabelaisian lists, A said, the list (using the word in its sartorial sense) with the most historical and mythical weight here is the one the Citizen is wearing, in its epic-parodic transposition.

    The row of stones hanging from his belt, B recalled, on which are carved the figures of numerous heroes and historical characters."

    The House of Ulysses by Julián Ríos, translated by Nick Caistor, p 164

    December 26, 2010

  • Wikipedia's List of lists of lists

    February 3, 2012