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L , l , indecl. n. or (on account of littera) f., the eleventh letter of the Latin alphabet (I and J being counted as one), in form modified from a Λ, like the Greek, but with the angle downward. In sound it was identical with Gr. lambda, Engl.
I.l. L has, according to Pliny, a threefold power: the slight sound of the second l, when doubled, as in ille, Metellus; a full sound, when it ends words or syllables, or follows a consonant in the same syllable, as in sol, silva, flavus, clarus; and a middle sound in other cases, as in lectus, Prisc. 1, 7, 38 (p. 555 P.). In transcriptions of Greek words in Latin and of Latin words in Greek letters, it always corresponds to Λ.
II. In etymology it represents,
1. Usually an original l; cf. alius, ἄλλος; lego, λέγω; leo, λέων; lavo, λούω, etc.—
2. Sometimes an r, as in lilium, λείριον; balbus, βάρβαρος; latrare, Sanscr. ra-, to bark; lateo, Sanscr. rah-, to abandon; luceo, Sanscr. ruc-, etc.; cf. also the endings in australis, corporalis, liberalis, and in stellaris, capillaris, maxillaris.—
3. Sometimes a d; cf. lacrima, δάκρυον; levir, Sanscr. dēvar, Gr. δαήρ; oleo, odor, Gr. ὄζω, ὄδωδα; uligo, udus; adeps, Sanscr lip-, to smear, Gr. ἄλειφαρ.
III. Before l an initial guttural or t is often dropped, as latus for tlatus, lis for stlis, lamentum from clamo; lac, cf. Gr. γαλακτ-; and a preceding c, d, n, r, s, or x is omitted or assimilated, as sella for sedula (sed-la), corolla for coronula (coronla), prelum for prem-lum (from premo), āla = ax-la (axilla); so, libellus for liberulus (liber), alligo for ad-ligo, ullus for unulus. In the nominative of nouns the ending s is not added after l, as in consul, vigil; and l final occurs in Latin only in such words.
IV. L stands alone,
A. As a numeral for 50.—
B. As an abbreviation, usually for Lucius; rarely for libens, locus, or libertus.
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