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Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English lather, from Old English lēaþor (a kind of nitre used for soap, soda), from Proto-West Germanic *lauþr, from Proto-Germanic *lauþrą (that which is used for washing, soap), from Proto-Indo-European *lówh₃trom (that which is used for washing), from *lewh₃-, *lowh₃- (to wash, bathe). Cognate with Swedish lödder (lather, foam, froth, soap), Icelandic löður (foam, froth, a kind of niter used for soap), Old Irish lóathar (wash-basin), Ancient Greek λουτρόν (loutrón, a bath, wash-room), Latin lavō (I wash), Albanian laj (I wash), Ancient Greek λούω (loúō). More at lye.


lather (countable and uncountable, plural lathers)

  1. (countable, uncountable) The foam made by rapidly stirring soap and water.
    Synonyms: suds, soap suds
  2. (countable, uncountable) Foam from profuse sweating, as of a horse.
  3. (countable) A state of agitation.
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English *lethren, from Old English lēþrian, lȳþrian, *līeþrian (to anoint, smear, lather), from Old English lēaþor (a kind of niter used for soap, soda). See above.


lather (third-person singular simple present lathers, present participle lathering, simple past and past participle lathered)

  1. (transitive) To cover with lather.
    The young woman lathered her breasts with lavender-scented soap.
  2. (transitive) To beat or whip.
  3. (intransitive) To form lather or froth, as a horse does when profusely sweating.
    • 1997, Haruki Murakami, translated by Jay Rubin, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.; republished New York: Vintage Books, 1998, →ISBN, page 147:
      I woke Corporal Honda to see to the horse. Heavily lathered and breathing hard, it had obviously come a long way at high speed.
Derived terms[edit]