Leaflet, owlet, starlet…

I was writing earlier about small books, booklets, and I used the word pamphlet, and also leaflet… and I began to wonder about the suffix ‘-let’, meaning a small something. The more I thought about it, the more examples I thought of, bracelet, anklet, doublet, gauntlet, hamlet… but not all the words ending in ‘-let’ were actually things which were small, because their origins were different.

But the actual word ‘let’ is interesting in itself, as a noun, as a verb,


  • to allow or permit
  • to allow to pass, go, or come
  • to grant the occupancy or use of something
  • to contract or assign for performance
  • to cause to,  make
  • used in the imperative as a request,command, warning, or suggestion
  • to  rent or lease
  • let down
  1. to disappoint,fail
  2. to betray
  3. to desert
  4. to slacken or abate
  5. to allow to descend slowly, lower
  • let in
  1. to admit.
  2. to involve
  3. to insert into the surface of something
  • let in on
  1. to share a secret with
  2. to allow to participate in.
  • let off
  1. to release by exploding.
  2. to free from duty, responsibility or excuse.
  3. to allow, to go with little or no punishment, to pardon
  • let on,
  1. to reveal  true feelings:
  2. to pretend
  • let out,
  1. to divulge, to make known.
  2. to release from confinement, restraint, etc.
  3. to enlarge (a garment).
  4. to terminate, to be finished, to end
  5. to make
  • let up
  1. to slacken, to diminish, to abate
  2. to cease, to stop
  • let up on
  1. to treat less severely, to be more lenient
Then there are the idioms…
  • let alone
  • let be
  • let go
  • let someone have it

Needless to say, as with so many little words which are really interesting, ‘let’ is of Old English origin!


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