\ˈlōth, ˈlōt͟h \
variants: or less commonly \ ˈlōth , ˈlōt͟h \ or loathe \ ˈlōt͟h , ˈlōth \

Definition of loath 

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

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Other Words from loath

loathness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for loath


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


disposed, inclined

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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

In the past, the Trump administration has been loath to discuss security issues between the U.S. and China, reflecting a reluctance on the part of the U.S. government to publicly confront China on those issues. Jeremy Page, WSJ, "American Military Aircraft Targeted By Lasers in Pacific Ocean, U.S. Officials Say," 21 June 2018 But because the Kremlin is typically loath to be seen as bending to political pressure from demonstrators, it was widely assumed that the governor’s position was at least temporarily secure. Matthew Bodner, Washington Post, "In fallout from Russia mall fire, a longtime governor in Siberia resigns," 1 Apr. 2018 Regulators are generally loath to reveal their views about whether a potential transaction is legal while seeking information from the parties. Andrew Scurria, WSJ, "How Regulators Averted a Debacle in Credit-Default Swaps," 8 July 2018 But such legislation usually dies in the State Senate, where Republicans are often loath to appear soft on crime. Vivian Wang And Jesse Mckinley, New York Times, "9 Key Issues Await Albany in Final Week of Budget Negotiations," 25 Mar. 2018 Players are notoriously cloistered during the World Cup and are especially loath to speak about their fitness secrets, so the contents of their bottles are not known. New York Times, "That Spitting Thing at the World Cup? It’s Probably ‘Carb Rinsing’," 11 July 2018 While most DJs, then and now, were loath to mingle in this fashion, Biondi did so with relish, endearing himself to packs of teens who became devoted listeners. Rick Kogan, chicagotribune.com, "She used to listen to Chicago radio's Dick Biondi under her pillow; now she's making a movie," 5 July 2018 Despite their firm convictions, and their deep-seated opposition to HUAC, quite a few of the actors were loath to be branded Communist sympathizers. Noah Isenberg, The New Republic, "Making the Movies Un-American," 3 July 2018 Both men are tempestuous leaders, who are loath to concede a political fight. Azam Ahmed And Paulina Villegas, BostonGlobe.com, "Leftist Andrés Manuel López Obrador will be Mexico’s next president," 2 July 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.

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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

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loasa family





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Last Updated

22 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for loath

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

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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.

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Comments on loath

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full of whispering sounds

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