Webster 1913 Edition
L is the twelfth letter of the English alphabet, and a vocal consonant. It is usually called a semivowel or liquid. Its form and value are from the Greek, through the Latin, the form of the Greek letter being from the Phœnician, and the ultimate origin prob. Egyptian. Etymologically, it is most closely related to r and u; as in pilgrim, peregrine, couch (fr. collocare), aubura (fr. LL. alburnus).
At the end of monosyllables containing a single vowel, it is often doubled, as in fall, full, bell; but not after digraphs, as in foul, fool, prowl, growl, foal. In English words, the terminating syllable le is unaccented, the e is silent, and l is preceded by a voice glide, as in able, eagle, pronounced
ē′g’l. See Guide to Pronunciation, §241.
As a numeral, L stands for fifty in the English, as in the Latin language.
For 50 the Romans used the Chalcidian chi, [GREEK], which assumed the less difficult lapidary type, [GREEK], and was then easily assimilated to L.
I. Taylor (The Alphabet).
An extension at right angles to the length of a main building, giving to the ground plan a form resembling the letter
L; sometimes less properly applied to a narrower, or lower, extension in the direction of the length of the main building; a wing.
A short right-angled pipe fitting, used in connecting two pipes at right angles.
Webster 1828 Edition
L, the twelfth letter of the English alphabet, is usually denominated a semi-vowel, or a liquid. It represents an imperfect articulation, formed by placing the tip of the tongue against the gum that incloses the roots of the upper teeth; but the sides of the tongue not being in close contact with the roof of the mouth, the breath of course not being entirely intercepted, this articulation is attended with an imperfect sound. The shape of the letter is evidently borrowed from that of the oriental lamed, or lomad, nearly coinciding with the Samaritan 2.
Lhas only one sound in English, as in like, canal. At the end of monosyllables, it is often doubled, as in fall, full, tell, bell; but not after diphthongs and digraphs; foul, fool, prowl, growel, foal, &c. being written with a single l.
With some nations, l and r are commutable; as in Greek, L. lilium.
In some words, l is mute, as in half, calf, walk, talk, chalk.
In English words, the terminating syllable le is unaccented, the e is silent, and l has a feeble sound; as in able, eagle, pronounced abl, eagl.
As a number L denotes 50, and with a dash above the L, 50,000. As an abbreviation, in Latin, it stands for Lucius; and L.L.S. for a sesterce, or two librae and a half.