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  1. foam or froth made by a detergent, especially soap, when stirred or rubbed in water, as by a brush used in shaving or by hands in washing.
  2. foam or froth formed in profuse sweating, as on a horse.
  3. Informal. a state of excitement, agitation, nervous tension, or the like: He was in a lather over my delay.
verb (used without object)
  1. to form a lather: a soap that lathers well.
  2. to become covered with lather, as a horse.
verb (used with object)
  1. to apply lather to; cover with lather: He lathered his face before shaving.
  2. Informal. to beat or whip.

Origin of lather1

before 950; Middle English; Old English lēathor soap; cognate with Old Norse lauthr (Icelandic löthur) lather, foam
Related formslath·er·er, nounun·lath·ered, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for lathered

Historical Examples

  • She answered every blow on her lathered hindquarters with an angry hump.

    The Biography of a Prairie Girl

    Eleanor Gates

  • I got all lathered up all right, holding myself by force in the chair.

    Inside John Barth

    William W. Stuart

  • More than once I lathered my face with mineral water out of a bottle.

    An African Adventure

    Isaac F. Marcosson

  • I scrubbed and lathered till my nose was red and shining beautifully.

    Miss Primrose</p>

    Roy Rolfe Gilson

  • Our horses lathered and dried and lathered again in the morning sun.

    The Hive</p>

    Will Levington Comfort

British Dictionary definitions for lathered


  1. foam or froth formed by the action of soap or a detergent in water
  2. foam formed by other liquid, such as the sweat of a horse
  3. informal a state of agitation or excitement
  1. to coat or become coated with lather
  2. (intr) to form a lather
Derived Formslathery, adjective

Word Origin

Old English lēathor soap; related to Old Norse lauthr foam
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for lathered



Old English lauþr "foam, washing soda," from Proto-Germanic *lauþran (cf. Old Norse lauðr "washing soap, foam"), from PIE *loutro- (cf. Gaulish lautron, Old Irish loathar "bathing tub," Greek louein "to bathe," Latin lavere "to wash"), which is from root *leu(e)- "to wash" + instrumentative suffix *-tro-. The modern noun might be a 16c. redevelopment from the verb. Meaning "violent perspiration" (especially of horses) is from 1650s. Meaning "state of agitation" (such as induces sweating) is from 1839.



Old English laþran, from Proto-Germanic *lauþrjan (cf. Old Norse leyðra "to clean, wash;" see lather (n.)). Related: Lathered; lathering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with lathered


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

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