- 1obsolete a : pleasure, delight
- 2: usu. intense or unbridled sexual desire : lasciviousness
- 3a : an intense longing : craving <a lust to succeed>
- b : enthusiasm, eagerness <admired his lust for life>
The word lust is phonetically similar to the ancient Roman "lustrum", which literally meant "five years". This was the cycle time for the ritual expiation of "sins" called the lustration as practiced in ancient Greek and Roman cultures. Sexual intercourse was one of a list of sins requiring lustration.
The Seven Deadly Sins, written during the 5th century is a similar list of sins requiring expiation or forgiveness. These doctrines forbade even thoughts and desires for fornicatio (fornication) and luxuria (luxury). However, the northern European usage of the verb still meant simply "to please, delight;" or "pleasure". A related form "lusty", originally meant "joyful, merry" or "full of healthy vigor".
The word "lust" moved closer to its present meaning in the 16th century with its use in the Protestant Reformation's early non-Latin Bible translations. This is despite the fact that the original Koine Greek Bible has no single word that is uniquely translated as heterosexual lust.