<botany> A composite plant of the genus Lactuca (L. Sativa), the leaves of which are used as salad. Plants of this genus yield a milky juice, from which lactucarium is obtained. The commonest wild lettuce of the United States is L. Canadensis. Hare's lettuce, Lamb's lettuce. See Hare, and Lamb. Lettuce opium. See Lactucarium. Sea lettuce, certain papery green seaweeds of the genus Ulva.

Origin: OE. Letuce, prob. Through Old French from some Late Latin derivative of L. Lactuca lettuce, which, according to Varro, is fr. Lac, lactis, milk, on account of the milky white juice which flows from it when it is cut: cf. F. Laitue. Cf. Lacteal, Lactucic.

(01 Mar 1998)