General English


  • adjective for a large period of time


  • adjective (now used only in combination) occupying or indicating a fielding position close or relatively close to the boundary. Although formerly used to describe positions all round the ground (
    See long field, long slip
    ) the term ‘long’ has now been largely superseded by ‘deep’ and survives only in the terms long-off, long-on, and long leg.


  • adjective having many words or pages


  • adjective tedious, time-consuming, oppressive. The word has long been generalised in youth slang since to 2000 to denote anything distasteful.


  • used to describe a desirable lingering flavour on the palate after the wine has been swallowed

Origin & History of “long”

Long goes back to a prehistoric Germanic *langgaz, which also produced German, Dutch, and Danish lang and Swedish lång. It is presumably related to Latin longus ‘long’ (source of French long, Italian lungo, and Romanian lung) but quite how has not been established. The derived verb long is of equal antiquity, and originally meant simply ‘grow long’; the current sense ‘yearn’ developed via ‘seem long’. Derived forms, more or less heavily disguised, include belong, Lent, linger, lunge, and purloin (15th c.), etymologically ‘take a long way away’, hence ‘remove’.