This unusual name has two possible origins, the first of which is derived from the Old English pre 7th Century word "leof", meaning "dear, beloved", used as an affectionate nickname or as part of various compound names with "leof" as the first element and recorded as "leofa", masculine and "leofe", the feminine form. These are short forms of for example, "leofric, composed of "leof" and "ric", meaning "power" and Leofwine, composed of "leof" and "wine", meaning "friend". The second possible origin is topographical and was used of someone living in a densely wooded area, as in one "Robert Intheleaves", recorded in London in the 14th Century. The derivation here is from the Middle English "leaf", leaf. The modern surname can be found as "leefe", "leaf(e)", "Lief", "Leif", "life", and "Liff". The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Godwin Lief, which was dated 1198, in the "Norfolk Pipe Rolls", during the reign of King Richard 1, known as "The Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

Surnames reference. 2013.


Look at other dictionaries:

  • Lief — (l[=e]f), a. [Written also {lieve}.] [OE. leef, lef, leof, AS. le[ o]f; akin to OS. liof, OFries. liaf, D. lief, G. lieb, OHG. liob, Icel. lj?fr, Sw. ljuf, Goth. liubs, and E. love. [root]124. See {Love}, and cf. {Believe}, {Leave}, n.,… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Lief — Lief, adv. Gladly; willingly; freely; now used only in the phrases, had as lief, and would as lief; as, I had, or would, as lief go as not. [1913 Webster] All women liefest would Be sovereign of man s love. Gower. [1913 Webster] I had as lief the …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Lief — may refer to:* Jacob Lief (21st century), American humanitarian * Lief Larson (born 1975), entrepreneur, futurist and technologist * The lief that you liveee also* Leaf (disambiguation) * Leif …   Wikipedia

  • lief — (lièf) s. m. Vieux mot qui signifie l action de lever, la levée d une chose. •   J ai ouï d anciens notaires et greffiers de justice de paix, dire : le lief des scellés pour la levée des scellés, LEGOARANT . ÉTYMOLOGIE    Lever. Formation… …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

  • lief — → laufen * * * lief: ↑ laufen. * * * lief: ↑laufen …   Universal-Lexikon

  • lief — (adj.) O.E. leof dear, valued, beloved, pleasant; also as a noun, a beloved person, friend, from P.Gmc. *leubo (Cf. O.N. ljutr, O.Fris. liaf, Du. lief, O.H.G. liob, Ger. lieb, Goth. liufs dear, beloved ), from PIE root *leubh love (see …   Etymology dictionary

  • Lief — (l[=e]f), n. Same as {Lif}. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Lief — Lief, n. A dear one; a sweetheart. [Obs.] Chaucer. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • lief — [Wichtig (Rating 3200 5600)] Auch: • ging • gingst • gingen • liefst • liefen Bsp.: • Abe …   Deutsch Wörterbuch

  • lief — [lēf] adj. [ME lef < OE leof, beloved, dear, akin to Ger lieb < IE base * leubh > LOVE] Archaic 1. valued; dear; beloved 2. willing adv. willingly; gladly: only in would (or had) as lief …   English World dictionary

  • lief — index readily Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

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