Definitions

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

  • n. The liquid obtained by leaching wood ashes.
  • n. See potassium hydroxide.
  • n. See sodium hydroxide.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A strong caustic alkaline solution of potassium or sodium salts, obtained by leaching wood ashes. It is much used in making soap as well as its use in biodiesel.
  • v. Obsolete spelling of lie.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A strong caustic alkaline solution of potassium salts, obtained by leaching wood ashes. It is much used in making soap, etc.
  • n. Sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide, or a concentrated aqueous solution of either compound.
  • n. A short side line, connected with the main line; a turn-out; a siding.
  • n. A falsehood.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • An obsolete spelling of lie.
  • n. An obsolete spelling of lie.
  • n. Water impregnated with alkaline salt imbibed from the ashes of wood by the process of leaching; also, some solution of an alkali, as potash, which is itself the product of leached lye concreted by evaporation.
  • n. A variant of lay.
  • n. An obsolete variant of lee.
  • n. In a general sense, water charged with soluble solid matter by contact with a mixture of solid substances, partly soluble, partly insoluble.

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

  • n. a strong solution of sodium or potassium hydroxide

Etymologies

Middle English lie, from Old English lēag; see leu(ə)- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old English lēag, from Proto-Germanic *laugō, from Proto-Indo-European *leu(ə)- (“to wash”). (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • ...from the ashes of the burned scraps of the whale, a potent lye is readily made; and whenever any adhesiveness from the back of the whale remains clinging to the side, that lye quickly exterminates it.

    - Melville, Moby-Dick, ch. 98

    July 29, 2008