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See also: froþ



From Middle English froth, frooth, froþ, likely a borrowing from Old Norse froða, from Proto-Germanic *fruþǭ; Old English āfrēoþan (to foam, froth) is from same Germanic root. Verb attested from late 14th century.[1] Cf Swedish fradga.



froth (countable and uncountable, plural froths)

  1. foam
    • 1749, [John Cleland], “(Please specify the letter or volume)”, in Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure [Fanny Hill], London: [] G. Fenton [i.e., Fenton and Ralph Griffiths] [], →OCLC:
      He replaced her again breadthwise on the couch, unable to sit up, with her thighs open, between which I could observe a kind of white liquid, like froth, hanging about the outward lips of that recently opened wound, which now glowed with a deeper red.
    • 1907, Clayton Beadle, Chapters on Papermaking, page 71:
      Froth or scum at the paper machine consists largely of clay, rosin, and starch.
    • 1922, Hugh Lofting, “8”, in The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle:
      Shortly after we started, while still off the lower end of the island, we sighted a steep point on the coast where the sea was in a great state of turmoil, white with soapy froth.
    Froth is a very important feature of many types of coffee.
  2. (figuratively) unimportant or insubstantial talk, events, or actions; drivel
    • 1692, Ezekiel Hopkins, An Exposition on the Ten Commandments, page 185:
      But is it possible for those who speak of God promiscuously and at random, is it possible that they should utter his Name with reverence, when all the rest of the Discourse is nothing but Froth and Levity?
    • 1807, Thomas Holcroft, The Vindictive Man: A Comedy, in Five Acts, page 21:
      They are equally useless and equally ridiculous, but the coquet is the most pernicious: his mind is a vacuum, and hers a plenum; froth itself is too ponderous for the one, and nothing but froth is crammed into the other.
    • 1832 April, “A Tête à Tête with Mr. Tait”, in Tait's Edinburgh magazine, number 1, page 10:
      The want of a good book is not felt till a good book is published—then all the world is dying to read it; but if the public, looking for good books, finds nothing but froth, froth, trash, trash, flummery, and mummery—things that have been said a thousand times before said a thousand times worse than ever—thoughts from those who think not, and who cannot think what thinking is—tales from those who have not heads—observations from those who observe not,—it grows disgusted, and rejects reading altogether.
    • 2002, Clive Reading, Strategic Business Planning, page 149:
      The efficiency goal forces management to consider the real business over many years and not just the froth business that lasts a few years.
    • 2010, Anna Gavalda, Consolation, page 369:
      Their new standards, their environmental regulations, their laws, their estimates, their rates, their interest, their conclustions, their judicial appeals, their reminders and their claims, their hypocritical legal decisions to save a planet that had already been bled dry – froth, froth, nothing but froth.
    Thousands of African children die each day: why do the newspapers continue to discuss unnecessary showbiz froth?
  3. The idle rich;
    • 1871, Sir Edward Robert Sullivan, The Froth and the Dregs, page 112:
      That it offers the best imaginable field for the economical employment of the least useful of our population, viz. "the froth and the dregs,” those of both extremes of the social scale who prefer adventure, excitement, action, idleness if you will, to steady plodding business ways.
    • 1899 September, James L. Ford, “The Froth of New York Society”, in Munsey's Magazine, volume 21, number 6, page 954:
      I do not think that there were in the boxes or the lower part of the house a score of persons who were not identified, in one way or another, with this froth of New York society.
    • 1908, Lionel Arthur Tollemache, Old and Odd Memories, page 104:
      Voltaire says that the population of England is like her ale: at the top there is nothing but froth; at the bottom there is nothing but dregs; but between these extremes all is excellent.
    • 2016, David Skilton, The Early and Mid-Victorian Novel, page 97:
      So, as we said, he paints the froth of society; and very gay froth it is, and very pretty bubbles he can make of it; but this is not reconciling classes, or giving a philosophic representation in fection of the great organic being we call the English nation; and so far as My Novel pretends to be anything more than a well-wrought story, constructed out of the old Bulwer-Lytton materials, the pretence is fabuous and the performance does not answer to it.
  4. (business) Highly speculative investment.
    • 1966, United States Congress House Committee on Ways and Means, Legislative History of H.R. 17607, 89th Congress, page 1329:
      Efforts of this kind, spurred on to fever heat by tax incentives can only generate inflationary froth - not real hard investment.
    • 2018, Brendan Brown, The Case Against 2 Per Cent Inflation, page 179:
      In effect Friedman and Scwartz are not blaming the Fed for creating asset market inflation (and as we have seen, this concept should include the empowerment of irrational forces across asset markets including the giant carry trades) by its polices through 1927 and earlier; but they are admitting that there could have been some degree of US stock market "froth" in 1928 onwards (into 1929( (in any case, Friedman and Scwartz do not explicitly refer to the concept of asset price inflation).
    • 2019, Joe Valente, Random Notes From A World Gone Wrong, page 86:
      There are very clearly signs of late-cycle froth in financial markets, everything from equities, to corporate credit, and real estate, especially in the US and, as a result, the risk of an overdue correction rises by the day.
    • 2022, Kelly J. Frank, To the Moon Investing, page 5:
      Froth is what agitates and powers the market, and there are six catalysts that have accelerated market froth, as shown in figure I.2.

Derived terms[edit]



froth (third-person singular simple present froths, present participle frothing, simple past and past participle frothed)

  1. (transitive) To create froth in (a liquid).
    I like to froth my coffee for ten seconds exactly.
  2. (intransitive) (of a liquid) To bubble.
    • 1842, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “The Wreck of the Hesperus,” lines 21-4, [1]
      Colder and louder blew the wind,
      A gale from the Northeast,
      The snow fell hissing in the brine,
      And the billows frothed like yeast.
    • 1973, “Black Day in Brussels,” Time, 19 February, 1973, [2]
      English beer, along with European brews, is already the subject of an EEC investigation to determine whether additives like stabilizers (used to prevent frothing during shipment) should be allowed.
  3. (transitive) To spit, vent, or eject, as froth.
  4. (intransitive) (literally) To spew saliva as froth; (figuratively) to rage, vent one's anger.
    • 1958, Nikos Kazantzakis, The Odyssey: A Modern Sequel (1938), translated by Kimon Friar, London: Secker and Warburg, Book XIII,
      The clumsy suckling struck out with her still soft claws,
      opened her frothing mouth until her milk teeth shone.
    • 1962, “Riding Crime's Crest” in Time, 25 April, 1962, [3]
      As doctors tried in vain to save April's right eye, news stories frothed at her assailant. He was “fiendish” (the Examiner), “sadistic” (the News-Call Bulletin), “probably a sexual psychopath” (the Chronicle).
  5. (transitive) To cover with froth.
    A horse froths his chain.

Derived terms[edit]



  1. ^ Douglas Harper (2001–2023), “froth”, in Online Etymology Dictionary.