LIST (O.E. lisle, a Teutonic word, cf. Dut. lijst, Ger. Leiste, adapted in Ital. lista and Fr. lisle), properly a border or edging. The word was thus formerly used of a geographical boundary or frontier and of the lobe of the ear. In current usage " list " is the term applied to the " selvage " of a piece of cloth, the edging, i.e. of a web left in an unfinished state or of different material from the rest of the fabric, to be torn or cut off when it is made up, or used for forming a seam. A similar edging prevents unravelling. The material, cut off and collected, is known as " list," and is used as a soft cheap material for making slippers, padding cushions, etc. Until the employment of rubber, list was used to stuff the cushions of billiard tables. The same word probably appears, in a plural form " lists," applied to the barriers or palisades enclosing a space of ground set apart for tilting (see TOURNAMENT). It is thus used of any place of contest, and the phrase " to enter the lists " is frequently used in the sense of " to challenge." The word in this application was taken directly from the 0. Fr. lisse, modern lice, in Med. Lat. liciae. This word is usually taken to be a Romanic adaptation of the Teutonic word. In medieval fortifications the lices were the palisades forming an outwork in front of the main walls of a castle or other fortified place, and the word was also used of the space enclosed between the palisades and the enceinte; this was used for exercising troops, etc. From a trans'erence of " list," meaning edge or border, to a "strip" of paper, parchment, etc., containing a " list " of names, numbers, etc., comes the use of the word for an enumeration of a series of names of persons or things arranged in order for some specific purpose. [t is the most general word for such an enumeration, other words, such as " register," " schedule," " inventory," " catalogue," having usually some particular connotation. The chief early use of list in this meaning was of the roll containing the names of soldiers; hence to " list a soldier " meant to enter a recruit's name for service, in modern usage " to enlist " him. There are numerous particular applications of " list," as in " civil list " (q.v.), " active or retired list " in the navy or army. The term " free list " is used of an enumeration of such commodities as may at a particular time be exempt from the revenue laws imposing an import duty.
The verb " to list," most commonly found in the imperative, meaning " hark ! " is another form of " listen," and is to be referred, as to its ultimate origin, to an Indo-European root klu-, seen in Gr. xXieic, to hear, xXtos, glory, renown, and in the English " loud." The same root is seen in Welsh dust and Irish cluas, err. Another lusten, Ger. lusten, to take pleasure in, and is also found in the English doublet " lust," now always used in the sense of an evil or more particularly sexual desire. It is probably an application of this word, in the sense of " inclination," that has given rise to the nautical term " list," for the turning over of a ship on to its side.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)