Definition: Oblique, not straight-forward. Dubious, shifty, disreputable.
Pronunciation: \ˈlüsh\ [loosh]
Origin: From the Old French louche meaning ‘cross-eyed’ or ‘squinting’ which descended from the Latinlusca, meaning ‘one-eyed’. Louche first appeared in print in the English language in the early 1800’s. In modern French louche has much the same definition and connotation as it does in its current English form.
Why this word?
It’s an adjective that looks like a noun, and one might be tempted to use it as such. But calling someone a ‘louche’ isn’t going to get you that job promotion, and depending on what that person thought they heard you say, it might result in you having a drink poured over your head. Safest to stick to its intended purpose and use it as a modifier.
Speaking of drinks, louche may also be used as a verb pertaining to alcoholic beverages meaning “to become cloudy when mixed with water”. This is also known as the Ouzo Effect (which would make a great name for a Greek punk-rock band) and is caused by the presence of anethole, which is an organic compound found in anise and fennel. This won’t be on the quiz…
Given that this word started out as a term to describe one’s eyes, it backs up my stringent habit of refusing to buy anything from a person in sunglasses – except maybe sunglasses.
How would ‘louche’ be used in a sentence?
“The used car lot was run by a thin, well-tanned, and louche man who introduced himself as Chet.”
“When added to water, the absinthe will louche into a cloudy pale green adding to the mystique of the fabled liquor.”