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LURCH, a word with several meanings, the etymological relationships of which are obscure. The chief uses which survive are (i) in the phrase " to leave in the lurch," to abandon some one, to leave him in a position of great difficulty; (2) a stagger, sudden leaning over, originally a nautical expression of a sudden " list " made by a ship; (3) the name of a dog, the " lurcher " used by poachers, properly a cross between a sheepdog or collie and a greyhound. In (i) " lurch " is the name of a game, of which nothing is known (it is supposed to have resembled backgammon), and also of a state of the score in various games, in which the loser either scores nothing or is beaten by very heavy points. In this sense the term is practically obsolete.

It was taken from Fr. lourche, connected with many German forms, now only dialectical such as Lortsch, Lurtsch, Lorz, Lurz, all for some kind of game, but also meaning left-hand, wrong, which the New English Dictionary thinks is the origin of the word, it being first used as a term in gambling. In (2) " lurch " occurs first in the form " lee-lurches," sudden rolls a ship takes to leeward in a heavy sea, which may be a corruption of " leelatch," defined in Smyth's Sailor's Word Book as dropping to leeward of the course. In (3) " lurch " is probably another form of " lurk," to lie in wait for, watch stealthily, hence to pilfer, steal.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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