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[lath -er] /ˈlæð ər/
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.
foam or froth formed in profuse sweating, as on a horse.
Informal. a state of excitement, agitation, nervous tension, or the like:
He was in a lather over my delay.
verb (used without object)
to form a lather:
a soap that lathers well.
to become covered with lather, as a horse.
verb (used with object)
to apply lather to; cover with lather:
He lathered his face before shaving.
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 forms
latherer, noun
unlathered, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for lathered
Historical Examples
  • Their father seized the opportunity, and lathered them both.

    The Bushman Edward Wilson Landor
  • She answered every blow on her lathered hindquarters with an angry hump.

  • Casually, as she spoke, she glanced down across the horses' lathered sides and up into Barton's crimson face.

    Little Eve Edgarton Eleanor Hallowell Abbott
  • I scrubbed and lathered till my nose was red and shining beautifully.

    Miss Primrose Roy Rolfe Gilson
  • He turned a lathered face toward Collie whose abrupt227 entrance had all but caused the foreman to sacrifice his left ear.

    Overland Red Henry Herbert Knibbs
  • Our horses lathered and dried and lathered again in the morning sun.

    The Hive Will Levington Comfort
  • They washed the clothes on flat boards, and beat them when lathered with a flat wooden sort of paddle.

  • He lathered his face, stropped the razor on his belt, and fell to work.

  • The last of the rented livery rigs passed him, the lathered horse barely able to pluck a jog out of his stiff legs.

    Back Home Irvin S. Cobb
  • Like a streak of lathered lightening Billy went for his clothes.

    The Palace of Darkened Windows Mary Hastings Bradley
British Dictionary definitions for lathered


/ˈlɑːðə; ˈlæ-/
foam or froth formed by the action of soap or a detergent in water
foam formed by other liquid, such as the sweat of a horse
(informal) a state of agitation or excitement
to coat or become coated with lather
(intransitive) to form a lather
Derived Forms
lathery, 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
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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.



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
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Slang definitions & phrases for lathered



To hit; strike: He lathered the ball out of the park

Related Terms

in a lather

[1797+; fr the notion that frothy washing lather is produced by vigorous agitation or beating]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with lathered


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