General English


  • noun a salad vegetable (Lactuca sativa) which comes in a variety of forms and leaf textures. The commonest are cos lettuce, cabbage lettuce, crisphead and loose-leaved lettuces. Cabbage lettuces have roundish heads, while cos lettuces have longer leaves and are more upright.


  • The most common salad vegetable, which is occasionally braised or stir-fried. It is an annual low-growing plant, Lactuca sativa, varying from a 10 to 30 cm spread, usually green-leaved but some varieties are red or brown. They may be loose-leafed, curly or form tight compact heads. The principal types are cos (romaine), semi-cos, butterhead, crisphead and loose leaf. Typical named varieties are Webb, Great Lakes, Little Gem, sugar Cos, Oak leaf, Lollo rosso and Lollo biondo.


  • noun money. Another term like long green, cabbage, etc. that makes the connection between green banknotes and succulent vegetation. The word was probably first heard in raffish use in the USA, where banknotes of all denominations are, and were, predominantly green.
  • noun the female genitals, from the supposed resemblance


  • noun a green salad plant

Origin & History of “lettuce”

The lettuce was named for the milky white sap that exudes from its stalk when cut. The Latin for milk is lac (source of English lactation (17th c.) and lactose (19th c.)), and so the lettuce was christened lactūca. this passed into English via laituës, the plural of Old French laituë.