louse, lousy

Most of us use the word lousy, meaning “bad, poor,” without thought as to where the word comes from. But unlike many words, the etymology of lousy is rather obvious and the metaphor underlying its current meaning is clear.

The word comes from louse and the original meaning was “infested with lice.” Louse, in turn, is from the Old English lus, and has cognates throughout the Germanic languages. 

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