\ ˈlōth How to pronounce loath (audio) , ˈlōt͟h How to pronounce loath (audio) \
variants: or less commonly \ ˈlōth How to pronounce loth (audio) , ˈlōt͟h \ or loathe \ ˈlōt͟h How to pronounce loathe (audio) , ˈlōth \

Definition of loath

: unwilling to do something contrary to one's ways of thinking : reluctant She was loath to admit her mistakes.

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from loath

loathness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for loath


cagey (also cagy), disinclined, dubious, hesitant, indisposed, reluctant, reticent


disposed, inclined

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Choose the Right Synonym for loath

disinclined, hesitant, reluctant, loath, averse mean lacking the will or desire to do something indicated. disinclined implies lack of taste for or inclination. disinclined to move again disinclined for reading hesitant implies a holding back especially through fear or uncertainty. hesitant about asking for a date reluctant implies a holding back through unwillingness. a reluctant witness loath implies hesitancy because of conflict with one's opinions, predilections, or liking. seems loath to trust anyone averse implies a holding back from or avoiding because of distaste or repugnance. averse to hard work not averse to an occasional drink

Loath vs. Loathe

Many usage commentators point out that the spelling of loath the adjective is distinct from loathe, the verb that means "to dislike greatly." Merriam-Webster dictionaries record loathe (along with loth) as a variant spelling for the adjective, at the same time indicating that the spelling with an e is not as common as the form without it. Both words hark back to Old English, and the e ending in each has come and gone over the centuries - but if you want to avoid the ire of those who like to keep the language tidy, stick with loath for the adjective and loathe for the verb.

Examples of loath in a Sentence

She was loath to admit her mistakes. I was loath to accept his claim of having climbed Mount Everest.

Recent Examples on the Web

Bresnik and others maintain that much of the issue is that coaches, players and parents are loath to sacrifice strong junior results by playing a longer game. Christopher Clarey, New York Times, "Sometimes in Tennis, One Hand is Still Better Than Two," 30 June 2018 Republicans are loath to repeat the undertaking that consumed much of 2017. Lisa Mascaro, The Seattle Times, "Senate GOP wary in Trump’s revived health care battle," 1 Apr. 2019 By all accounts, Dr. Kaloyeros was loath to take orders from anybody. Vivian Wang, New York Times, "Culture of Fear and Ambition Distorted Cuomo’s Economic Projects," 5 July 2018 Most French journalists are loath to defend RT, and many share Macron’s suspicions about the motives of organizations financed by the Kremlin. James Mcauley, Washington Post, "France weighs a law to rein in ‘fake news,’ raising fears for freedom of speech," 10 Jan. 2018 Filmmaker Gotham Chopra was granted sweeping access to Brady in an array of intimate settings that the inscrutable signal-caller would normally be loath to allow. Mark Leibovich, New York Times, "Tom Brady Gave a Filmmaker Unusual Access to His Private Life," 9 Jan. 2018 Was the pope, someone who faced accusations of supporting a violent regime as a cardinal in Argentina, loath to give into public pressure? Jason Horowitz, New York Times, "Pope Francis, After Criticism, Sends Sex Crimes Investigator to Chile," 30 Jan. 2018 For Microsoft the deal helps grow its cloud-computing business, which lags behind Amazon’s but has found willing customers like Kroger and Walmart, which are loath to line the pockets of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. Dina Bass, The Seattle Times, "Kroger, Microsoft test futuristic grocery store in Redmond. Amazon, take note.," 7 Jan. 2019 Perhaps most importantly, the introduction of Stories seemed to galvanize a new spirit of experimentation at Instagram, which had generally been loath to tamper with its original photos-plus-filters format. Casey Newton, The Verge, "Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom on winning the Stories war," 2 Aug. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'loath.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of loath

12th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for loath

Middle English loth loathsome, from Old English lāth; akin to Old High German leid loathsome, Old Irish lius loathing

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about loath

Listen to Our Podcast about loath

Dictionary Entries near loath



loasa family





Statistics for loath

Last Updated

18 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for loath

The first known use of loath was in the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for loath



English Language Learners Definition of loath

: not wanting or willing to do something


variants: also loth \ ˈlōth , ˈlōt͟h \

Kids Definition of loath

: not willing He was loath to admit mistakes.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on loath

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with loath

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for loath

Spanish Central: Translation of loath

Nglish: Translation of loath for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of loath for Arabic Speakers

Comments on loath

What made you want to look up loath? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


incapable of being surmounted or overcome

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Finance Words Quiz

  • a-piggy-bank
  • The etymology of mortgage is related most closely to which two words?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!