1. a. A big, clumsy, stupid fellow; esp. one who lives in idleness; a lout. Also in phr. to play the lubber. In early quots. frequently applied to a monk (cf. ABBEY-LUBBER). Obs. exc. arch. or dial.
1362 LANGL. P. Pl. A. Prol. 52 Grete lobres [MS. H. (c1400) loburs] and longe at lo weore to swynke Cloeden hem in Copes. 1515 BARCLAY Egloges III. (1570) Cijb/2 Some be forgetfull,..Some craftles fooles, some proude and negligent, If thou chaunge some better for to haue, Thou voydest a lubber and hast agayne a knaue. 1530 [see LUBBER v.]. c1530 LD. BERNERS Arth. Lyt. Bryt. liv. (1814) 198 Two greate lubbers brought after hym the heed of the monster, in a great basket. a1533 FRITH Disput. Purgat. Aviij, That we shuld no lenger..be dyspoyled and robbed of a syght of sturdie lubbarres. a1568 R. ASCHAM Scholem. II. (Arb.) 88 They went to the Grammer schole, little children: they came from thence great lubbers: alwayes learning, and litle profiting. 1590 NASHE 1st Pt. Pasquils Apol. Wks. (Grosart) I. 241 Will he neuer leaue to play the lubber? what a lazie lowtish kind of argument is this. 1605 SHAKES. Lear I. iv. 101 If you will measure your lubbers length againe, tarry. 1671 J. WEBSTER Metallogr. i. 18 Idle Lubbers that dare not adventure from the air of their Countries. 1750 GRAY Long Story (end), And so God save our noble King, And guard us from long-winded Lubbers. 1812 Sporting Mag. XL. 159 The sparks which flew from the pipe of a lubber who was blowing smoke and fire about at the door of the Angel. 1871 B. TAYLOR Faust (1875) I. xix. 172 Now is the lubber tame! 1888 Berksh. Gloss., Lubber, or Lubber-yead, one very stupid indeed.
transf. c1826 HOOD in A. A. Watts Life A. Watts (1884) II. 25 It..is but a hulking lubber of a paper.
b. esp. A sailor's term for: A clumsy seaman; an unseamanlike fellow. (Cf. LAND-LUBBER.)
1579 GOSSON Sch. Abuse 33b, To lye wallowing like Lubbers in the Ship of the common wealth, crying Lord, Lord, when wee see the vessel toyle. 1748 SMOLLETT Rod. Rand. xxiv, He swore woundily at the lieutenant, and called him..swab and lubber. 1769 FALCONER Dict. Marine (1780) Ccij, Afraid..of being stigmatized with the opprobrious epithet of lubber. 1824 SCOTT Redgauntlet ch. iii, The cowardly lubbers have all made sail. 1890 BESANT Armorel of Lyonesse I. 39 Two lubbers! They ought not to be trusted with a boat.
c. An inferior servant, drudge, scullion. Obs.
1538 ELYOT Dict., Mediastinus, a drudge or lubber, which doth in the howse all maner of vyle seruice, as swepe or clense the house, carie wodde to the kytchen, and other like drudgery. 1706 PHILLIPS (ed. Kersey), Lubber, a mean Servant, that does all base Services in a House; a Drudge.
2. a. attrib. and appositive passing into adj. (In lubber lips perh. a different word; cf. blubber-lip.)
c1530 Hickscorner 421 (Manly), Thou lubber Imagynacyon. 1599 PORTER Angry Wom. Abington G, Sow vp your lubber lips. 1673 DRYDEN Amboyna Epil. 14 Venetians do not more uncouthly ride, Than did their Lubber-State Mankind bestride. 1730-46 THOMSON Autumn 562 Astride The lubber Power in filthy triumph sits. 1832 S. FERGUSON Forging Anchor 57 The kraken's back,..a lubber anchorage for sudden shallow'd miles. 1874 TENNYSON Vivien 117 Then narrow court and lubber King, farewell! 1875 BROWNING Inn Album i. 7 Lubber prose o'ersprawls, And straddling stops the path from left to right. 1891 HALL CAINE Scapegoat xxvii, His thick lubber lips working visibly.
b. Special comb.: lubber-grasshopper, a name for two large-bodied clumsy insects of the U.S.; (a) Brachystola magna, of the western plains; (b) Romalea microptera, of the Gulf States; lubber-head, a stupid person, a blockhead; hence lubber-headed adj. (E.D.D.); lubber-lift v. (see quot. 1905); lubber's line, mark, point Naut., a vertical line inside a compass-case, indicating the direction of the ship's head; lubber-wort, the (imaginary) herb that produces laziness; also, a lubber. Also LUBBER FIEND, LUBBERLAND, LUBBER'S HOLE.
1877 Field & Forest II. 160 The ‘*Lubber’ grasshopper [is the] large grasshopper Romalia microptera. 1885 Riverside Nat. Hist. (1888) II. 194 The ‘Lubber Grasshopper’, or the Clumsy Locust, of the plains, Brachystola magna,..is..confined to the central portion of North America. 1962 METCALF & FLINT Destructive & Useful Insects (ed. 4) xii. 577 Large and small, lubberly grasshoppers often invade cotton from near-by waste lands and defoliate the plants... Lubber grasshoppers, differential grasshoppers.
1847 HALLIWELL, *Lubber-head, a stupid fellow. 1849 Sidonia Sorc. II. 286 If..the thoughtless lubberhead, had not let the ring fall.
1797 Spirit of Farmer's Museum (1801) 85 Our Democrats begin to muster, Rolling around an anxious eye, Some ‘*lubber lifting’ power to spy. 1905 Terms Forestry & Logging (U.S. Dept. Agric. Bureau Forestry) 42 Lubber lift, to raise the end of a log by means of a pry, and through the use of weight instead of strength.
1858 Merc. Marine Mag. V. 34 The *lubber's line of a compass.
1884 KNIGHT Dict. Mech. Suppl., *Lubber's Mark (Nautical).
1840 RAPER Pract. Navig. §142. 42 Care is taken to place the box so that *lubber's point in the bowl, and the centre of the card, are in a line fore and aft, or parallel to the keel. But as lubber's point deviates a little from its proper position when the ship is heeled over, seamen do not implicitly depend upon it, as indeed the name implies. 1881 CLARK RUSSELL Sailor's Sweeth. III. iv. 156, I..set the two compasses down with the lubber's points exactly parallel.
1547 BOORDE Brev. Health cli. (1557) 55b, Whyles they do take theyr medecine [for the ‘fever lurden’] put no *Lubber-worte into theyr potage. 1575 LANEHAM Let. (1871) 23 A loouely loober woorts, freklfaced, red headed, cleen trust in his dooblet.