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one of a set of objects, as straws or pebbles, drawn or thrown from a container to decide a question or choice by chance.
the casting or drawing of such objects as a method of deciding something:
to choose a person by lot.
the decision or choice made by such a method.
allotted share or portion:
to receive one’s lot of an inheritance.
the portion in life assigned by fate or Providence; one’s fate, fortune, or destiny:
Her lot had not been a happy one.
a distinct portion or piece of land:
a building lot.
a piece of land forming a part of a district, city, or other community.
South Midland and Southern U.S. a farmyard or barnyard.
a piece of land having the use specified by the attributive noun or adjective:
a parking lot; a used-car lot.
Movies. a motion-picture studio and its surrounding property.
a distinct portion or parcel of anything, as of merchandise:
The furniture was to be auctioned off in 20 lots.
a number of things or persons collectively:
There’s one more, and that’s the lot.
kind of person; sort:
He’s a bad lot.
Often, lots. a great many or a great deal:
a lot of books; lots of money.
Chiefly British. a tax or duty.
to divide or distribute by lot (sometimes followed by out):
to lot furniture for sale; to lot out apples by the basketful.
to assign to one as his or her lot; allot.
to divide into lots, as land.
Obsolete. to cast or draw lots for.
to draw lots.
Often, lots. a great deal; greatly:
Thanks a lot for the ride. I care lots about my family.
cast (in) one’s lot with, to ally oneself with; share the life and fortunes of:
She had cast her lot with the bohemian crowd.
draw / cast lots, to settle a question by the use of lots:
They drew lots to see who would go first.
the nephew of Abraham. His wife was changed into a pillar of salt for looking back during their flight from Sodom. Gen. 13:1–12, 19.
a river in S France, flowing W to the Garonne. 300 miles (480 km) long.
a department in S France. 2018 sq. mi. (5225 sq. km).
Capital: Cahors.
(in prescriptions) a lotion.
Contemporary Examples

I mean I know the word “genius” is thrown around a lot, but he really is a comic genius.
Tony Hale Talks Return of ‘Veep,’ ‘Arrested Development’ & Being Weird Kevin Fallon April 10, 2013

I mean, to relate it to Tarantino, I knew there was a lot out there.
How I Write: Jonathan Lethem Noah Charney September 24, 2013

But they carried with them a lot of the positive stuff that they learned at the prison and it helped maintain who they are.
What’s Next for ‘Walking Dead’? Showrunner Scott Gimple On Season 5 and What Mary’s Grill Really Means Melissa Leon March 31, 2014

Ramis made a lot of funny movies, including Animal House, Ghostbusters, Caddyshack, and Analyze This.
Harold Ramis’s ‘Groundhog Day’ Is About as Perfect as a Movie Gets Malcolm Jones February 24, 2014

“I joined for fairly altruistic reasons, like a lot of people in our generation,” Feehan said.
Medal of Honor Awardee Embodies the best of his Generation Matt Gallagher October 15, 2013

Historical Examples

I bought a lot, thinking some one might get hurt at the ball game.
Frank Roscoe’s Secret Allen Chapman

Not a blamed thing but a lot of stubs in a check-book, and a little fat.
The Spenders Harry Leon Wilson

And there was a lot of talk and laughin’ and they began to dance.
Mitch Miller Edgar Lee Masters

Two millions isn’t so much here, you know, and she must have spent a lot of hers.
The Spenders Harry Leon Wilson

She said it smilingly, as if she welcomed her lot as a predestined old maid.
The Belovd Vagabond William J. Locke

(functioning as singular or pl) preceded by a. a great number or quantity: a lot to do, a lot of people, a lot of trouble
a collection of objects, items, or people: a nice lot of youngsters
portion in life; destiny; fortune: it falls to my lot to be poor
any object, such as a straw or slip of paper, drawn from others at random to make a selection or choice (esp in the phrase draw or cast lots)
the use of lots in making a selection or choice (esp in the phrase by lot)
an assigned or apportioned share
an item or set of items for sale in an auction
(mainly US & Canadian) an area of land: a parking lot
(US & Canadian) a piece of land with fixed boundaries
(mainly US & Canadian) a film studio and the site on which it is located
a bad lot, an unpleasant or disreputable person
cast in one’s lot with, throw in one’s lot with, to join with voluntarily and share the fortunes of
the lot, the entire amount or number
adverb (preceded by a) (informal)
to a considerable extent, degree, or amount; very much: to delay a lot
a great deal of the time or often: to sing madrigals a lot
verb lots, lotting, lotted
to draw lots for (something)
(transitive) to divide (land, etc) into lots
(transitive) another word for allot
a department of S central France, in Midi-Pyrénées region. Capital: Cahors. Pop: 164 413 (2003 est). Area: 5226 sq km (2038 sq miles)
a river in S France, rising in the Cévennes and flowing west into the Garonne River. Length: about 483 km (300 miles)
(Old Testament) Abraham’s nephew: he escaped the destruction of Sodom, but his wife was changed into a pillar of salt for looking back as they fled (Genesis 19)

Old English hlot “object (anything from dice to straw, but often a chip of wood with a name inscribed on it) used to determine someone’s share,” also “what falls to a person by lot,” from Proto-Germanic *khlutom (cf. Old Norse hlutr “lot, share,” Old Frisian hlot “lot,” Old Saxon hlot, Middle Dutch, Dutch lot, Old High German hluz “share of land,” German Los; Old English hleotan “to cast lots, to foretell”), of unknown origin. The object was placed with others in a receptacle, which was shaken, the winner being the one that fell out first. Hence, to cast lots. In some cases the lots were drawn by hand. The word was adopted from Germanic into the Romanic languages (cf. lottery, lotto). Meaning “choice resulting from the casting of lots” first attested c.1200.

Sense of “plot of land” is first recorded 1630s (distribution of the best property in new settlements often determined by casting lots), that of “group, collection” is 1725, from notion of auction lots. The generalized sense of “great many” is first attested in 1812. To cast (one’s) lot with another is to agree to share winnings.

Related Terms

all over the lot
left occipitotransverse (position)

(Heb. goral, a “pebble”), a small stone used in casting lots (Num. 33:54; Jonah 1:7). The lot was always resorted to by the Hebrews with strictest reference to the interposition of God, and as a method of ascertaining the divine will (Prov. 16:33), and in serious cases of doubt (Esther 3:7). Thus the lot was used at the division of the land of Canaan among the serveral tribes (Num. 26:55; 34:13), at the detection of Achan (Josh. 7:14, 18), the election of Saul to be king (1 Sam. 10:20, 21), the distribution of the priestly offices of the temple service (1 Chr. 24:3, 5, 19; Luke 1:9), and over the two goats at the feast of Atonement (Lev. 16:8). Matthias, who was “numbered with the eleven” (Acts 1:24-26), was chosen by lot. This word also denotes a portion or an inheritance (Josh. 15:1; Ps. 125:3; Isa. 17:4), and a destiny, as assigned by God (Ps. 16:5; Dan. 12:13). Lot, (Heb. lot), a covering; veil, the son of Haran, and nephew of Abraham (Gen. 11:27). On the death of his father, he was left in charge of his grandfather Terah (31), after whose death he accompanied his uncle Abraham into Canaan (12:5), thence into Egypt (10), and back again to Canaan (13:1). After this he separated from him and settled in Sodom (13:5-13). There his righteous soul was “vexed” from day to day (2 Pet. 2:7), and he had great cause to regret this act. Not many years after the separation he was taken captive by Chedorlaomer, and was rescued by Abraham (Gen. 14). At length, when the judgment of God descended on the guilty cities of the plain (Gen. 19:1-20), Lot was miraculously delivered. When fleeing from the doomed city his wife “looked back from behind him, and became a pillar of salt.” There is to this day a peculiar crag at the south end of the Dead Sea, near Kumran, which the Arabs call Bint Sheik Lot, i.e., Lot’s wife. It is “a tall, isolated needle of rock, which really does bear a curious resemblance to an Arab woman with a child upon her shoulder.” From the words of warning in Luke 17:32, “Remember Lot’s wife,” it would seem as if she had gone back, or tarried so long behind in the desire to save some of her goods, that she became involved in the destruction which fell on the city, and became a stiffened corpse, fixed for a time in the saline incrustations. She became “a pillar of salt”, i.e., as some think, of asphalt. (See SALT.) Lot and his daughters sought refuge first in Zoar, and then, fearing to remain there longer, retired to a cave in the neighbouring mountains (Gen. 19:30). Lot has recently been connected with the people called on the Egyptian monuments Rotanu or Lotanu, who is supposed to have been the hero of the Edomite tribe Lotan.


a lot
carry (a lot of) weight
cast one’s lot with
fat chance (lot)
have (a lot) going for one
have a lot on one’s plate
leave a lot to be desired
quite a bit (lot)
think a lot of


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