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Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English lōth (loath; averse, hateful), from Old English lāð, lāþ (evil; loathsome), or Old Norse leið, leiðr (uncomfortable; tired)[1] from Proto-Germanic *laiþaz (loath; hostile; sad, sorry), ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *h₂leyt- (to do something abhorrent or hateful).

The word is cognate with Danish led (disgusting, loathsome; nasty), Dutch leed (sad; (Belgium) angry), French laid (ugly; morally corrupt), Icelandic leiður (annoyed, vexed; sad; (archaic or poetic) annoying, wearisome), Italian laido (filthy, foul; obscene), Old Frisian leed, Old High German leid (Middle High German leit, modern German leid (uncomfortable), Leid (grief, sorrow, woe; affliction, suffering; harm, injury; wrong)), Old Saxon lêð, lēth (evil person or thing), Swedish led (bored; tired; (archaic) disgusting, loathsome; evil).[2]


loath (comparative loather, superlative loathest)

  1. Averse, disinclined; reluctant, unwilling.
    I was loath to return to the office without the Henderson file.
  2. (obsolete) Angry, hostile.
  3. (obsolete) Loathsome, unpleasant.
Usage notes[edit]
  • The spelling loath is about four times as common as loth in Britain, and about fifty times as common in the United States.
  • The word should not be confused with the related verb loathe.
Alternative forms[edit]
Derived terms[edit]
Related terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]


loath (third-person singular simple present loaths, present participle loathing, simple past and past participle loathed)

  1. Obsolete spelling of loathe
    • 1576, George Whetstone, “The Castle of Delight: []”, in The Rocke of Regard, [], London: [] [H. Middleton] for Robert Waley, →OCLC; republished in J[ohn] P[ayne] Collier, editor, The Rocke of Regard, [] (Illustrations of Early English Poetry; vol. 2, no. 2), London: Privately printed, [1867?], →OCLC, page 20:
      To Scriptures read they muſt their leaſure frame, / Then loath they will both luſt and wanton love; []
    • 1736, Andrew Gray, “Sermon VI. Acts xxvi. 18. []”, in Great and Precious Promises: or, Some Sermons Concerning the Promises, and the Right Application thereof. [], Glasgow: Printed by William Duncan, [], →OCLC, page 115:
      [] O Hypocrites! ye hope for Enjoyment of Chriſt, but be perſwaded of it, Chriſt ſhall eternally loath you, and ye ſhall eternally loath Chriſt: []


  1. ^ lōth, adj.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007, retrieved 10 December 2018.
  2. ^ loath, loth, adj.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, 1903; “loath”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.