la See foreign particles.

Labor Day The first Monday in September.

Laborers’ International Union of North America The shortened form Laborers’ union is acceptable in all references.

Headquarters is in Washington.

Labor Party Not labour, even if British.

Labrador The mainland portion of the Canadian province of Newfoundland.

Use Newfoundland in datelines after the name of a community. Specify in the text that it is in Labrador.

Ladies’ Home Journal

lady Do not use as a synonym for woman. Lady may be used when it is a courtesy title or when a specific reference to fine manners is appropriate without patronizing overtones.

See nobility.

lager (beer)

lake Capitalize as part of a proper name: Lake Erie, Canandaigua Lake, the Finger Lakes.

Lowercase in plural uses: lakes Erie and Ontario; Canandaigua and Seneca lakes.


lame duck (n.) lame-duck (adj.)

Land-Rover With a hyphen. A trademark for a brand of all-terrain vehicle.

languages Capitalize the proper names of languages and dialects: Aramaic, Cajun, English, Gullah, Persian, Serbo-Croatian, Yiddish.

lanolin Formerly a trademark, now a generic term.

larceny See the burglary, larceny, robbery, theft entry.

last Avoid the use of last as a synonym for latest if it might imply finality. The last time it rained, I forgot my umbrella, is acceptable. But: The last announcement was made at noon today may leave the reader wondering whether the announcement was the final announcement, or whether others are to follow.

The word last is not necessary to convey the notion of most recent when the name of a month or day is used:

Preferred: It happened Wednesday. It happened in April. Correct, but redundant: It happened last Wednesday.

But: It happened last week. It happened last month.

Lastex A trademark for a type of elastic yarn.

Last Supper

late Do not use it to describe someone’s actions while alive.

Wrong: Only the late senator opposed this bill. (The senator was not dead at that time.)

latex A resin-based substance used in making elastic materials and paints.

Latin America See Western Hemisphere.

Latin Rite See Roman Catholic Church.

latitude and longitude Latitude, the distance north or south of the equator, is designated by parallels. Longitude, the distance east or west of Greenwich, England, is designated by meridians.

Use these forms to express degrees of latitude and longitude: New York City lies at 40 degrees 45 minutes north latitude and 74 degrees 0 minutes west longitude; New York City lies south of the 41st parallel north and along the 74th meridian west.

Latter Day Saints, Latter-day Saints See Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Laundromat A trademark for a coin-operated laundry.

Law Enforcement Assistance Administration LEAA is acceptable on second reference.

laws Capitalize legislative acts but not bills: the Taft-Hartley Act, the Kennedy bill.


lawyer A generic term for all members of the bar.

An attorney is someone legally appointed or empowered to act for another, usually, but not always, a lawyer. An attorney at law is a lawyer.

A barrister is an English lawyer who is specially trained and appears exclusively as a trial lawyer in higher courts. He is retained by a solicitor, not directly by the client. There is no equivalent term in the United States.

Counselor, when used in a legal sense, means a person who conducts a case in court, usually, but not always, a lawyer. A counselor at law is a lawyer. Counsel frequently is used collectively for a group of counselors.

A solicitor in England is a lawyer who performs legal services for the public. A solicitor appears in lower courts but does not have the right to appear in higher courts, which are reserved to barristers.

A solicitor in the United States is a lawyer employed by a governmental body. Solicitor is generally a job description, but in some agencies it is a formal title.

Solicitor general is the formal title for a chief law officer (where there is no attorney general) or for the chief assistant to the law officer (when there is an attorney general). Capitalize when used before a name.

Do not use lawyer as a formal title.

See the attorney, lawyer entry and titles.

lay, lie The action word is lay. It takes a direct object. Laid is the form for its past tense and its past participle. Its present participle is laying.

Lie indicates a state of reclining along a horizontal plane. It does not take a direct object. Its past tense is lay. Its past participle is lain. Its present participle is lying.

When lie means to make an untrue statement, the verb forms are lie, lied, lying.

Some examples:


Right: I will lay the book on the table. The prosecutor tried to lay the blame on him.

Wrong: He lays on the beach all day. I will lay down.

Right: He lies on the beach all day. I will lie down.


Right: I laid the book on the table. The prosecutor has laid the blame on him.

Right: He lay on the beach all day. He has lain on the beach all day. I lay down. I have lain down.


Right: I am laying the book on the table. The prosecutor is laying the blame on him.

Right: He is lying on the beach. I am lying down.

Leaning Tower of Pisa

leatherneck Lowercase this nickname for a member of the U.S. Marine Corps. It is derived from the leather lining that was formerly part of the collar on the Marine uniform.

lectern, podium, pulpit, rostrum A speaker stands behind a lectern, on a podium or rostrum, or in the pulpit.

lecturer A formal title in the Christian Science Church. An occupational description in other uses.

lectures Capitalize and use quotation marks for their formal titles, as described in composition titles.

left hand (n.) left-handed (adj.) left-hander (n.)

leftist, ultra-leftist In general, avoid these terms in favor of a more precise description of an individual’s political philosophy.

As popularly used today, particularly abroad, leftist often applies to someone who is merely liberal or believes in a form of democratic socialism.

Ultra-leftist suggests an individual who subscribes to a communist view or one holding that liberal or socialist change cannot come within the present form of government.

See radical and the rightist, ultra-rightist entry.

left wing (n.) But: left-wing (adj.), left-winger (n.).

legal holiday See the holidays and holy days entry.


legion, legionnaire See American Legion and French Foreign legion.

Legionnaires’ disease The disease takes its name from an outbreak at the Pennsylvania American Legion convention held at the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel in Philadelphia in July 1976. Thirty-four people died — 29 Legionnaires or family members and five other people who had been near the hotel. The disease was diagnosed for the first time after 221 people contracted the illness in Philadelphia.

The bacterium believed to be responsible is found in soil and grows in water, such as air-conditioning ducts, storage tanks and rivers.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta estimates that 25,000 people a year in the United States get the disease, whose pneumo-nialike symptoms begin two-to-three days after exposure.

legislative titles

FIRST REFERENCE FORM: Use Rep., Reps., Sen. and Sens. as formal titles before one or more names in regular text. Spell out and capitalize these titles before one or more names in a direct quotation. Spell out and lowercase representative and senator in other uses.

Spell out other legislative titles in all uses. Capitalize formal titles such as assemblyman, assemblywoman, city councilor, delegate, etc., when they are used before a name. Lowercase in other uses.

Add U.S. or state before a title only if necessary to avoid confusion: U.S. Sen. Nancy Kassebaum spoke with state Sen. Hugh Carter.

FIRST REFERENCE PRACTICE: The use of a title such as Rep. or Sen. in first reference is normal in most stories. It is not mandatory, however, provided an individual’s title is given later in the story.

Deletion of the title on first reference is frequently appropriate, for example, when an individual has become well known: Barry Goldwater endorsed President Ford today. The Arizona senator said he believes the president deserves another term.

SECOND REFERENCE: Do not use legislative titles before a name on second reference unless they are part of a direct quotation.

CONGRESSMAN, CONGRESSWOMAN: Rep. and U.S. Rep. are the preferred first-reference forms when a formal title is used before the name of a U.S. House member. The words congressman or congresswoman, in lowercase, may be used in subsequent references that do not use an individual’s name, just as senator is used in references to members of the Senate.

Congressman and congresswoman should appear as capitalized formal titles before a name only in direct quotation.

ORGANIZATIONAL TITLES: Capitalize titles for formal, organizational offices within a legislative body when they are used before a name: Speaker Thomas P. O’Neill, Majority Leader Robert C. Byrd, Minority Leader John J. Rhodes, Democratic Whip James C. Wright, Chairman John J. Sparkman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, President Pro Tem John C. Stennis.

See party affiliation and titles.

legislature Capitalize when pre-ceded by the name of a state: the Kansas Legislature.

Retain capitalization when the state name is dropped but the reference is specifically to that state’s legislature:

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Both houses of the Legislature adjourned today.

Capitalize legislature in subsequent specific references and in such constructions as: the 100th Legislature, the state Legislature.

Although the word legislature is not part of the formal, proper name for the lawmaking bodies in many states, it commonly is used that way and should be treated as such in any story that does not use the formal name.

If a given context or local practice calls for the use of a formal name such as Missouri General Assembly, retain the capital letters if the name of the state can be dropped, but lowercase the word assembly if it stands alone. Lowercase legislature if a story uses it in a subsequent reference to a body identified as a general assembly.

Lowercase legislature when used generically: No legislature has approved the amendment.

Use legislature in lowercase for all plural references: The Arkansas and Colorado legislatures are considering the amendment.

In 49 states the separate bodies are a senate and a house or assembly. The Nebraska Legislature is a unicameral body.

See assembly; governmental bodies; general assembly; house of representatives; and senate.

Lent The period from Ash Wednesday through Holy Saturday, the day before Easter. The 40-day Lenten period for penance, suggested by Christ’s 40 days in the desert, does not include the six Sundays between Ash Wednesday and Easter.

See Easter for the method of computing when Easter occurs.

lesbian, lesbianism Lowercase in references to homosexual women, except in names of organizations.

less See the fewer, less entry.

-less No hyphen before this suffix:

childless waterless


let up (v.) letup (n. and adj.)

Levi’s A trademark for a brand of jeans.


liberal, liberalism See the political parties and philosophies entry.

lie See the lay, lie entry.

lie in state Only people who are entitled to a state funeral may formally lie in state. In the United States, this occurs in the rotunda in the Capitol.

Those entitled to a state funeral are a president, a former president, a president-elect or any other person designated by the president.

Members of Congress may lie in state, and a number have done so. The decision is either house’s to make, although the formal process normally begins with a request from the president.

Those entitled to an official funeral, but not to lie in state, are the vice president, the chief justice, Cabinet members and other government officials when designated by the president.

lieutenant See military titles.

lieutenant governor Capitalize and abbreviate as Lt. Gov. or Lt. Govs. when used as a formal title before one or more names in regular text. Capitalize and spell out when used as a formal title before one or more names in direct quotations.

Lowercase and spell out in all other uses.

See titles.

Life Saver, Life Savers Trademarks for a brand of roll candy.


lifestyle This form, an exception to Webster’s New World, has been adopted in keeping with the spelling used by many newspapers.


lift off (v.) liftoff (n. and adj.)

light, lighted, lighting Do not use lit as the past tense form.

lightning The electrical discharge.

light-year The distance that light travels in one year at the rate of 186,282 miles per second. It works out to about 5.88 trillion miles (5,878,612,800,000 miles).

likable Not likeable.

like, as

Use like as a preposition to compare nouns and pronouns. It requires an object: Jim blocks like a pro.

The conjunction as is the correct word to introduce clauses: Jim blocks the linebacker as he should.

like- Follow with a hyphen when used as a prefix meaning similar to:

like-minded like-natured

No hyphen in words that have meanings of their own:

likelihood likewise


-like Do not precede this suffix by a hyphen unless the letter l would be tripled:

bill-like lifelike

businesslike shell-like


linage, lineage Linage is the number of lines.

Lineage is ancestry or descent.

Lincoln’s Birthday Capitalize birthday in references to the holiday.

Lincoln was born Feb. 12. His birthday is not a federal legal holiday.

line numbers Use figures and lowercase the word line in naming individual lines of a text: line 1, line 9. But: the first line, the 10th line.

linoleum Formerly a trademark, now a generic term.

Linotype A trademark for a brand of typesetting machine that casts an entire line of type in one bar or slug.

lion’s share The term comes from an Aesop fable in which the lion took all the spoils of a joint hunt.

Use it to mean the whole of something, or the best and biggest portion.

Do not use it to mean majority.

liter The basic unit of volume in the metric system. It is defined as the volume occupied by 1 kilogram of distilled water at 4 degrees Celsius. It works out to a total of 1,000 cubic centimeters (1 cubic decimeter).

It takes 1,000 milliliters to make a liter.

A liter is equal to approximately 34 fluid ounces or 1.06 liquid quarts. A liter equals .91 of a dry quart. The metric system makes no distinction between dry volume and liquid volume.

To convert to liquid quarts, multiply by 1.06 (4 liters x 1.06 equals 4.24 liquid quarts).

To convert to dry quarts, multiply by .91 (4 liters x .91 equals 3.64 dry quarts).

To convert to liquid gallons, multiply by .26 (8 liters x .26 equals 2.08 gallons).

See gallon; kilogram; metric system; quart (dry); and quart (fluid).

literally See the figuratively, literally entry.

literature See composition titles.

Little League, Little League Baseball The official name of the worldwide youth baseball and softball organization and its affiliated local leagues.

livable Not liveable.

livid It is not a synonym for fiery, bright, crimson, red or flaming. If a person turns livid with rage, his face becomes ashen or pale. It can mean blue, bluish gray, gray, dull white, dull purple or grayish black.

Lloyds Bank International Ltd. A prominent bank with headquarters in London.

Lloyd’s of London A prominent group of insurance companies with headquarters in London.

Lloyd’s Register of Shipping The reference source for questions about nonmilitary ships not covered in this book.

It is published by Lloyd’s Register of Shipping Trust Corp. Ltd. in London.

local Avoid the irrelevant use of the word.

Irrelevant: The injured were taken to a local hospital.

Better: The injured were taken to a hospital.

local of a union Always use a figure and capitalize local when giving the name of a union subdivision: Local 222 of The Newspaper Guild.

Lowercase local standing alone in plural uses: The local will vote Tuesday. He spoke to locals 2, 4 and 10.

Lockheed Aircraft Corp. Headquarters is in Burbank, Calif.

lodges See the fraternal organizations and service clubs entry.

London The city in England stands alone in datelines.

long distance, long-distance Always a hyphen in reference to telephone calls: We keep in touch by long-distance. He called long-distance. She took the long-distance call.

In other uses, hyphenate only when used as a compound modifier: She traveled a long distance. She made a long-distance trip.

longitude See the latitude and longitude entry.

longshoreman Capitalize longshoreman only if the intended meaning is that the individual is a member of the International Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union or the International Longshoremen’s Association.

long term, long-term Hyphenate when used as a compound modifier: We will win in the long term. He has a long-term assignment.

long time, longtime They have known each other a long time. They are longtime partners.

long ton Also known as a British ton. Equal to 2,240 pounds. See ton.

Lord’s Supper See sacraments.

Los Angeles The city in California stands alone in datelines.

Confine L.A. to quoted matter.

LOT Polish Airlines Headquarters is in Warsaw, Poland.

Louisiana Abbrev.: La. See state names.

Low Countries Belgium, Luxembourg and Netherlands.

lowercase One word (n., v., adj.) when referring to the absence of capital letters. An exception to Webster’s New World, in keeping with printers’ practice.

LSD Acceptable in all references for lysergic acid diethylamide.

Lt. Gov. See lieutenant governor.

Lucite A trademark for an acrylic plastic.

Lufthansa German Airlines A Lufthansa airliner is acceptable in any reference.

Headquarters is in Cologne, Germany.

Lutheran churches The basic unit of government in Lutheran practice is the congregation. It normally is administered by a council, headed either by the senior pastor or a lay person elected from the membership of the council. The council customarily consists of a congregation’s clergy and elected lay people.

The three major Lutheran bodies in the United States merged on Jan. 1, 1988, into a new organization, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, with about 5.3 million members in more than 11,000 congregations.

The Lutheran Church in America was the largest and most geographically spread of the three and was formed in 1962 from a merger of four bodies with Danish, Finnish, German and Swedish backgrounds. It merged with the American Lutheran Church, a mostly Midwestern group formed in 1960 through a merger of four bodies with Danish, German and Norwegian backgrounds, and the relatively small west-central Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches.

The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, founded in 1847, has 2.6 million members and is a separate and distinct body.

Lutheran teachings go back to Martin Luther, a 16th-century Roman Catholic priest whose objections to elements of Roman Catholic practice began the movement known as the Protestant Reformation.

Members of the clergy are known as ministers. Pastor applies if a minister leads a congregation.

On first reference, use the Rev. before the name of a man or woman. On second reference, use only the last name of a man; use Miss, Mrs., Ms., or no title before the last name of a woman, depending on her preference.

See religious titles.

Luxembourg Stands alone in datelines.

-ly Do not use a hyphen between adverbs ending in -ly and adjectives they modify: an easily remembered rule, a badly damaged island, a fully informed woman.

See the compound modifiers section of the hyphen entry.

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center Formerly the Manned Spacecraft Center. Located in Houston, it is the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s principal control and training center for manned spaceflight.

Johnson Space Center is acceptable in all references.

In datelines:

SPACE CENTER, Houston (AP) —

See John F. Kennedy Space Center.