lu·cre (lo͞o’kər)
n. Money or profits.
[Middle English, from Latin lucrum; see lau-.]
Word History: In the 1520s, William Tyndale made an influential translation of the New Testament from Greek into English. Many of Tyndale's English renderings of Greek phrases were considered so apt that the translators of the King James Version of the Bible reused them eighty years later, thus ensuring their familiarity to speakers of Modern English. Among the familiar phrases that Tyndale apparently coined in his translation are the powers that be (Romans 13:1) and filthy lucre (Titus 1:7,11). This last expression occurs as part of the translation of Greek phrases like aiskhrou kerdous kharin "for the sake (kharin) of shameful (aiskhrou) gain (kerdous)." When translating these words, Tyndale was probably guided by the Vulgate, the Latin translation of the Old and New Testaments that had been the standard edition of the Bible in Western Europe during the Middle Ages. In the Vulgate, the passage was rendered with the Latin words turpis lucrī grātiā, "for the sake (grātiā) of shameful (turpis) gain (lucrī)." It was only natural that Tyndale, working in the early Reformation, would remember the wording of the familiar Latin translation. As a result, he rendered the phrase as because of filthy lucre, using the English word lucre, which comes from Latin lucrum, "material gain, profit,"—the same Latin word that appears in the form lucrī in the Vulgate. But we cannot attribute the modern pejorative connotations of lucre wholly to Tyndale's influence. In Latin itself, lucrum could be used to mean "avarice." When the Latin word was borrowed into Middle English as lucre, it was often used in the simple neutral sense "material gain, profit." Already in the 1300s, however, lucre began to appear in contexts favoring the development of pejorative overtones, such as in Chaucer's phrase from the Prioress's Tale: foule usure and lucre of vileynye ("foul usury and lucre of villainy").

Word Histories. 2014.


Look at other dictionaries:

  • lucre — [ lykr ] n. m. • v. 1460; lat. lucrum 1 ♦ Vx Gain, profit (⇒ lucratif). 2 ♦ Mod. et péj. Profit plus ou moins licite dont on est avide. ⇒ gain, profit. Le goût, l amour, l appât du lucre. ● lucre nom masculin (latin lucrum) …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Lucre — Lucre, from the Lat. lucrum, meaning gain in terms of money or wealth.Often it is used in a negative manner, as in the phrase “not given to filthy lucre.” from the Bible bibleverse|1|Timothy|3:3|AV. From this, the term the filthy became slang for …   Wikipedia

  • Lucre — Lu cre, n. [F. lucre, L. lucrum.] Gain in money or goods; profit; riches; often in an ill sense. [1913 Webster] The lust of lucre and the dread of death. Pope. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • lucre — LUCRE. s. m. Gain, profit, qui se tire de l industrie, d un negoce, d un travail mercenaire, de l exercice d une Charge, d un employ. Il travaille pour le lucre. il ne considere pas en cela le lucre, il ne considere que l honneur …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • lucre — lu‧cre [ˈluːkə ǁ ər] noun [uncountable] informal JOURNALISM money: • She finally gets her chance at earning some filthy lucre …   Financial and business terms

  • lucre — (n.) late 14c., from L. lucrum gain, advantage, profit; wealth, riches, from PIE root *lau gain, profit (Cf. Gk. apo lanein to enjoy, Goth. launs, Ger. lohn wages, reward, and possibly Skt. lotam, lotram booty ). Filthy lucre (Tit. i:11) is… …   Etymology dictionary

  • lucre — [lo͞o′kər] n. [ME < L lucrum, gain, riches < IE base * lāu , to capture > Sans lṓtram, booty, OE lean, OHG lon, reward] riches; money: now chiefly in a humorously derogatory sense, as in filthy lucre (cf. 1 Tim. 3:3) …   English World dictionary

  • lucre — index boom (prosperity) Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • lucre — [n] money, profits capital, cash, earnings, funds, gain, gate*, gravy*, income, proceeds, receipts, resources, revenue, riches, take*, wealth; concepts 332,340,344,693 …   New thesaurus

  • lucre — ► NOUN literary ▪ money, especially when gained dishonourably. ORIGIN Latin lucrum …   English terms dictionary

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